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2010 MAC West Division Football Preview
Looks Wide Open!
The Mid American Conference (MAC) West division was won by the Central Michigan Chippewas in 2009. They didn't lose a single game to MAC foes and ended the year 12-2 with an 8-0 MAC record. Things look to be MUCH more competitive this year. Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Ball State all figure to rise as strong foes for the Chips and all others in the MAC. Let's take a look at the teams in the MAC West and their prospects for the 2010 college football season.
Western Michigan Broncos - This team returns 7 offensive starters and 6 defensive starters from a 5-7 2009 team. They have experience at WR, but they have lost their top QB and RB from last season. Alex Carder takes over at QB. The 6-2 225 lbs sophomore figures to encounter both struggles and successes in his first year on the job. HC Bill Cubit has done well with RBs in the past, and his newest protege is Aaron Winchester. The junior is small at 5-6, but he is a powerful runner with 1,000 yard potential. The offensive line will be stronger thanks to the addition of Michigan transfer Dann O'Neill.
The defensive line was very strong for the Broncos back in 2008. It wasn't as good in 2009. The 2010 addition of this line is improved, but still not quite up to the lofty standards set in 2008. The DBs and LBs are both more experienced and better units this season. The out of conference schedule is a bit brutal with trips to Michigan State, and Notre Dame. In conference they will travel to play Ball State and Central Michigan. Both conference games are winnable. The Broncos will be improved and a strong contender to win the MAC West.
Northern Illinois Huskies - After a 7-6 season that ended with a crushing defeat to USF in the International Bowl, the Huskies are back with 15 starters. The most important returning starters are QB Chandler Harnish and RB Chadd Spann. The latter rushed for 1,038 yards and 19 TDs while earning 1st Team All MAC honors in 2009. QB Harnish passed for 1,670 yards and 11 TDs. Look for vast improvement from Harnish this year as his offensive line will be just as good and the WRs will be much improved over last year. The secondary is the brightest part of the defense. The DBs get back senior CB Patrick George who had 2 INTs last year. The LBs also look sold with the return of Alex Kube who had 60 tackles and 6 tackles for a loss last year. The Huskies have a weak schedule and should pull off an upset against a BCS team on the road. Look for them to compete strongly for the top spot in the MAC West.
Ball State Cardinals - Last year's 2-10 record was a far cry from the great season in 2008 which started 12-0. This year the Cardinals bring back 11 offensive starters and 8 defensive starters. Look for marked improvement. QB Kelly Page had a rough freshman year, but the 6-3 211 lbs passer will get better in 2010. MiQuale Lewis and Cory Sykes are both back this year at R B. Eric Williams will also provide help in that area. The defense looks a bit shaky and may have problems in the trenches. The Cardinals will play a tough MAC schedule. They must host Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Akron. They have to travel to play Central Michigan. With so many starters back they can expect to win 7 and perhaps 8 games with a bit of luck. Ball State will be a player in the MAC.
Toledo Rockets - This team brings back 12 combined starters after going 5-7 last year. They lose their starting QB and top rusher, but new QB Austin Dantin has some starting experience. The sophomore passed for 962 yards and 4 TDs last year. New RB Morgan Williams rushed for 444 yards in 2009. LT Mike vanDerMeulen is a future NFL player. The offensive line looks great with 100 career starts. The defense looks weak up front, but the secondary has the potential to grab some interceptions. The Rockets have the top offense in the MAC, and a defense that is getting better. 2010 is going to be a growing year for them. Toledo looks like a player in the future.
Central Michigan Chippewas - Butch Jones has left as HC after leading this team to a 12-2 record in 2009. New HC Dan Enos inherits 12 combined starters, but loses phenomenal QB Dan LeFavour. Ryan Radcliff takes over at QB. The sophomore will be taking more snaps from under center than LeFavour did. The RBs will be just as productive as they have been in recent years thanks to Paris Cotton. The defensive line and DBs both look to be weakened heavily in 2010. The LBs are the best in the MAC thanks to Nick Bellore and Matt Berning. They led the team in tackles last year and both had 3 sacks. Bellore had 2 INTs. This will be a rough year for an otherwise stellar football program. Fans shouldn't expect much and may encounter a losing season.
Eastern Michigan Eagles - Most coaches would be enthused that 15 starters are returning, but its hard to get excited about starters back from an 0-12 team. This team has a nice RB tandem in Dwayne Priest and Alex Gillet, but that's about it. The defense is horrid. The Eagles could be underdogs in all 12 of their games this year.
The Mid American Conference West division looks up for grabs. Western Michigan, Ball State, Toledo, and Northern Illinois all have a shot at taking top honors. We will go with a rejuvenated Ball State to take this division in 2010, but Toledo is the team of the future.
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