The Mid-American Conference is great for not just watching, but betting as well. Teams like Ohio, Temple, Miami, Toledo, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and many others are capable of pulling off upsets. Last year’s winner of the MAC was the upstart Miami RedHawks who downed heavily favored Northern Illinois in the title Game. Who will it be this year? Let’s check out the MAC West first.
Toledo Rockets – This team finished a very solid 8-5 last year and gets back 9 starters on each side of the ball. Last year they were hurt by a defense that allowed NIU to rack up 65 points and Boise State to get 57. The defensive line will be better and the secondary is perhaps the best in the MAC thanks Desmond Morrow and his brother Diauntae morrow who combined for 5 INTs a year ago. The offense boats a 1k yard RB in Adonis Thomas who is back for his senior year after earning 2nd Team All MAC honors in 2010. WR Eric Page made 1st Team All MAC last year with 8 TD catches. This is a very live team thanks to so many returning starters anda n easy Schedule that gives them top foes Western Michigan and Northern Illinois at home. They have a great shot at making the MAC Title Game.
Western Michigan Broncos – You can bank on them improving on last year’s mark of 6-6 thanks to 7 offensive and 8 defensive starters coming back for HC Bill Cubit. Notable returnees iNClude top QB Alex Carder who was 2nd Team All MAC in 2010 and RB Tevin Drake who should rack up over 1k yards this season. Carder gets an exceptional group of WRs and has the MAC’s best defense to bail him out. Any way you slice it this team will compete for the MAC West position in the MAC Title Game.
Northern Illinois Huskies – This team will be strong even with the loss of their HC. They have the best offensive line in the MAC and the best QB too. The biggest group we have with the Huskies is just two starters back on defense. They also have to play Toledo on the road. New HC Dave Doeren comes in from Wisconsin so he knows a thing or two about winning football Games. The Huskies need a few things to go their way to make it back to the MAC Title Game.
Central Michigan Chippewas – It was a long way down from a 12-2 record in 2009 with this team ending up 3-9 last year. HC Dan Enos infuses a lot of young talent into this year’s team, but he catches a tough first half Schedule that could have the Chips at 1-5 early on. This team is a year or two away from competing for the top spot again.
Ball State Cardinals – New HC Pete Lembos gets plenty of returning talent to try and improve on last year’s 4-8 mark. The bad news is he also gets a tough Schedule that will see the Cardinals play the top 2 teams in the East. There is a small chance they could play the role of up setter, but chances are the players and coaches will need a year to learn each other’s strengths/weaknesses.
Eastern Michigan – We would love to tell you good things about EMU, but the fact is they are pretty lousy. They haven’t won more than 4 Games since 1995. However, this team actually appears a tad bit more talented than recent versions. They might escape the MAC West basement with some lucky breaks and good coaching.
The MAC East has isn’t as strong as its counterpart, the MAC West, but it still has a couple of good teams. Last year the East produced upstart champ Miami as the RedHawks shocked us all with a huge upset over NIU in the championship Game. Can they do it again or will there be a new sheriff in town in the MAC East? Let’s find out!
Ohio Bobcats – The 2010 version of this team ended up 8-5, but lost their last Game of the season to Kent State. They return 11 starters from that team. The offensive line is very strong and maybe the best in the entire MAC. They have a pathetically easy Schedule with all Four road Games against teams that went 1-7 last year. Great team or not, it isn’t easy to make it to the Title Game when you are playing downright awful teams. The Bobcats hold a great chance to make the MAC Title Game for the third time in the last 6 years.
Temple Owls – Losing HC Al Golden isn’t good any way you slice it, but the Owls will still compete. They have loads of talent and the strongest running Game in the MAC. They will need to avoid injuries which is something they couldn’t do in 2009 and 2010. Temple could be vulnerable on defense where they get back only 5 starters. In the end this is a team that should get back to bowl play and have an outside shot at winning the MAC. Contending with the obvious rigors of a first year HC will be their biggest problem.
Miami Red Hawks – Last year couldn’t have gone any better than it did. No, really, we are serious. In fact they will have to pay for reaching such lofty heights. HC Mike Haywood is gone and the offense is riddled with inexperieNCed players. They do boast a great QB in Zac Dysert and the best defense in the MAC. This team has to come out hungry and play with a chip on their shoulders to defend their MAC Title. Don’t count them out. They showed last year when playing as a 17 point underdog against NIU that they know how to win when nobody thinks they can do it.
Kent State Golden Flashes – They could be on their way back with 9 offense starters back and the MAC’s top defensive line. Throw in a strong offensive line and they could make it to their first bowl Game since 1972. The Golden Flashes ended 2010 on a strong note by blowing out Ohio. That could be a harbinger for the future.
Buffalo Bulls – Jeff Quinn’s team was awful at 3-11 last year, but could experieNCe relative success in 2011. Quinn is a strong recruiter and he runs a fast and hard to keep up with offense. He will have this team on the rise within 3 years, but for now they will remain near the bottom of the heap.
Bowling Green Falcons – This team gets back 16 starters from a team that was 2-10 last year. This is clearly a more talented group of players, but they catch a tough Schedule with road Games against Western Michigan, Miami and Kent State. They also must host Ohio and Northern Illinois. HC Dave Clawson has them going in the right direction, but 2011 isn’t going to be their year.
Akron Zips – This team one just a single Game in 2010 and it doesn’t look to be getting better. Of course with the bar set so low they might improve, but in order to catch up to the rest of the Conference they will need to make big time changes.