Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2007 MAC Preview

I’m a bit partial to the MAC, with two member schools—Kent and Akron—located in my proverbial backyard and knowing people who attend or attended a few others (Miami, Bowling Green, Toledo, Eastern Michigan). That being said, the MAC is still a relatively weak football conference. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s no Sun Belt. The MAC is right there on with Conference USA and the WAC, and actually surpasses those conferences some years, but not this one. So without further ado, let’s GET TO GETTIN’!

Order of Finish

MAC East

  1. Kent State Golden Flashes 7-5 (6-2)
  2. Ohio Bobcats 9-3 (6-2)
  3. Akron Zips 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Miami Redhawks 6-6 (4-3)
  5. Bowling Green Falcons 5-7 (4-4)
  6. Temple Owls 3-9 (1-7)
  7. Buffalo Bison 0-12 (0-8)

MAC West

  1. Western Michigan Broncos 8-4 (6-1)
  2. Northern Illinois Huskies 8-4 (5-2)
  3. Ball State Cardinals 8-4 (5-2)
  4. Toledo Rockets 7-5 (5-3)
  5. Central Michigan Chippewas 3-9 (1-6)
  6. Eastern Michigan Eagles 1-11 (0-7)

Conference Championship

Western Michigan over Kent State

First off, don’t ask me why the MAC plays an unbalanced schedule. It almost makes my head explode. As for the standings, I see Kent sneaking into the conference championship on one of those fluke seasons where they’re not the best team (Ohio and Miami definitely are better, and Akron and Bowling Green could make a case, as well), but just happen to win the right games to sneak in. The East (and the MAC as a whole) usually plays out that way, with Ohio sneaking into the title game last year and Akron winning the whole thing the year before despite not being the best teams in the division. As for Western Michigan, my conference champs, they’re coming off an 8-5 season and have the schedule to, again, win the right games. I pick the Broncos over the Golden Flashes because I just can’t see Kent winning a MAC football championship in my lifetime.

Bowl Bound Teams

The MAC gets three automatic bowl bids, with the champion usually playing in the Motor City Bowl, meaning Western Michigan will be playing in front of a home state crowd. Kent will go to the GMAC bowl, while Ohio will find itself in the International Bowl. Northern Illinois and Ball State will have strong cases for at-large bids, while Toledo, Akron, and Miami will need some serious help.

Players to Watch

  1. Nate Davis, QB, Ball State, SO
  2. Kalvin McRae, RB, Ohio, SR
  3. Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan, SO
  4. Louis Delman, FS, Western Michigan, JR
  5. John Greco, OT, Toledo, SR

Davis, the preseason Player of the Year, is the most talented player in the MAC. He will battle it out with fellow sophomore LeFevour—coming off an impressive 3031 yard season with an amazing 26-10 TD/INT ratio—to see who will be the next great MAC QB. McRae is a touchdown machine (15 TDs last year) while Greco is the best pro prospect in the MAC. Louis Delman is preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

(Media picks here.)

Best Chance for an Upset

There are a few candidates in the MAC:

· Toledo over Kansas, September 15

· Ball State over Indiana, November 3

· Miami over Vanderbilt, October 27

I know these aren’t the most earth-shattering upsets, but they’re the best the MAC can hope for this year. As the young QBs mature, perhaps bigger shocks will be in store.

World Beaters (Toughest Schedule)

Miami. The Redhawks travel to Minnesota, host Cincinnati, go to Colorado, and then play Syracuse at home over a four-week stretch in September. Then they travel to Vanderbilt on October 27. I know none of those teams are in the upper-tier of their conferences, but the talent difference between the best of the MAC and the worst of the Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC is still wide, while Cincinnati was a bowl team last year (and is coached by Brian Kelly, who won the MAC last year with Central Michigan).

Sucka Ducks (Weakest Schedule)

Ohio. The Bobcats open at I-AA school Gardner-Webb, and then travel to Sun Belt pushover Louisiana-Lafayette the next week. An impossible trip to Virginia Tech follows on September 15 before a return to Athens to host Wyoming. The Virginia Tech game almost makes up for the first two dates, but it has to be one or the other: either a Division I-AA school or a Sun Belt school.

Best Mascot

None. Most of the teams have pretty standard fare (Bobcats, Rockets, Falcons, etc.), while the unique ones are confusing. What is a Zip (a kangaroo, apparently) or a Golden Flash (a hawk, apparently). Buffalo is the worst, going with the obvious Bison.

Is Any MAC Program Big Ten-Worthy?

No. Ever since the Big Ten made its desire for a twelfth team known, it has been kicked around locally that a MAC team should be considered, due mostly to the geographic considerations. First of all, travel isn’t what it used to be. The need for close geographic proximity is obsolete, as proven by Boston College’s inclusion in the ACC. Second, no MAC program is anywhere near ready to be a Big Ten team. Besides the obvious lack of talent, no MAC team has the facilities nor the student body to compete with the behemoths of Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Even if a team was to be picked from the MAC, what team would it be? Over the past five years, there have been five different MAC champions (including Marshall, who is no longer in the conference). Only one team has posted a winning record in each of the past five seasons, Northern Illinois, and the Huskies never could parlay those wins into a conference championship. This parity is what makes the MAC exciting and an enjoyable conference to follow; it is also the main indicator that no MAC program is ready for the Big East, let alone the Big Ten. The worst program in the Big Ten the past five years has been Illinois; don’t you think that if the Fighting Illini were in the MAC, they would have one at least two conference championships over those same five years? Actually, they would probably have four, every year except 2003, when Big Ben was still at Miami, Omar Jacobs was setting records at Bowling Green, and Garret Wolfe was still running wild at Northern Illinois. Until a MAC program can have a sustained run in the five to six season range like the seasons Bowling Green, Miami, and Northern Illinois had in 2003, I just can’t see the Big Ten pillaging the MAC.


    1. Ohio 8-4
    2. Akron 8-4
    3. Kent 6-6
    4. Miami 4-8
    5. BG 3-9
    6. Buffalo 2-10
    7. Temple 0-12

    1. Central Michigan 9-3
    2. Western Michigan 9-3
    3. Toledo 8-4
    4. NI 7-5
    5. Ball State 4-8
    6. Eastern Michigan 2-10

  2. Who's winning the title game? C'mon, mattdub, you can't leave me hanging, brotha!

  3. Ohio!! Chippewas will suprise you, but in the end - Bobcats hold up the Trophy!! Sorry I was so pissed off at your comment, I have been reading a lot of Brady Quinn Bashers and was watching Escape from Alcatrez and Doc took a hatchet and chopped off his damn hand!! Sorry Bro!! Keep up the great postings!!