MAC Football Predictions
Last season, Ohio won the East division with a 6-2 record. It met Northern Illinois, who won the West with a 7-1 mark, in the MAC Championship game. The Huskies came out on top with a hard-fought 23-20 victory. Most remember that game well because the Huskies were trailing 20-0 at the half.
This season the conference welcomes Massachusetts, who will be making the transition from the FCS ranks.
Below, I have laid out my predictions on how I see the conference playing out this season.
2012 MAC Predictions
1. Ohio - Blowing a 20-point lead in the MAC title game will have this talented and experienced Ohio squad motivated to bring home its third East division championship in four seasons. The Bobcats boasted the second-best scoring defense in the league last season, and the offense, which ranked 23rd nationally with 449.3 yards per game, could be even better with junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton back to run the no-huddle.
2. Bowling Green - A young Bowling Green team has taken some lumps the past two seasons, but those young guys are now experienced veterans and they’re ready to contend. This will be the most talented team coach Dave Clawson has had at Bowling Green. A defense that returns nine starters should be greatly improved. The offense is in good hands with quarterback Matt Schilz, who threw for 3,024 yards with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year. Ultimately, I have the Falcons coming up short in the East as they have to play the Bobcats on the road.
3. Kent State - After three consecutive 5-7 seasons, the Golden Flashes are hoping to get the elusive sixth win to become bowl eligible. I like their chances. A defense that ranked 21st in the country with 326.2 yards per game allowed is among the best in the MAC. An offense that ranked 119th in the nation with 253.5 yards per game must improve for the Golden Flashes to get over the hump. I think it will. The unit showed life down the stretch last season by scoring 24 points or more in four of its last five games.
4. Miami (Ohio) - The Redhawks will have an opportunity to improve on last season’s 3-5 conference mark, but the offense must perform better for them to do so. Led by Quarterback Zac Dysert, Miami had a prolific passing attack last season. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any running game to go with it. It finished 120th in the nation in rushing offense with just 72.8 yards per game. Not running the football allowed defenses to stick a hand in the dirt and go after Dysert.
5. Buffalo - The Bulls have gone 5-19 in Jeff Quinn’s first two seasons. They will be more competitive in 2012, but I fear the wins won’t start piling up just yet. The schedule is a big reason why. They have to play Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Toledo – the three-best teams in the West, and they get Ohio on the road. They won’t win any of those games.
6. Akron - The future looks bright for Akron as it has the best facilities in the conference and a coaching staff you could put up against any in the country. Terry Bowden and his staff will bring the Zips back to respectability really soon. Year one, however, figures to be a tough pill to swallow for a coach that has a 140-62-2 career record.
7. Massachusetts - The Minutemen went 5-6 in 2011 but only played one FBS program. This year, they won’t play a single game against FCS schools. It could be a very challenging year as UMass makes the transition to the FBS ranks. It will be luck to win a single conference game.
1. Western Michigan - The Broncos boast one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Alex Carder, who passed for 3,873 yards with 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. He has shown the ability to put the team on his back, and I believe he’ll carry the Broncos to a West division title in 2012. He will be helped out by a favorable schedule. Western Michigan’s four conference road contests come against teams that didn’t have winning records last season.
2. Toledo - The Rockets tied Northern Illinois for the West title last season, but lost the tiebreaker because of a 63-60 home loss to the Huskies. They could take a small step back after losing a bunch of starters, but they still have talented playmakers in quarterbacks Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens. Both finished 2011 ranked in the top 20 in the nation in passing efficiency.
3. Northern Illinois - The Huskies will likely take a step back as well after losing MAC Player of the Year Chandler Harnish. Junior quarterback Jordan Lynch has the potential to put up some big numbers in Mike Dunbar’s offense, but he won’t be Harnish. The schedule does set up rather well for NIU as it get Akron, Buffalo and UMass fromm the East. UMass is making the jump to the FBS and the other two combined for just two MAC wins last season.
4. Ball State - The Cardinals must get something figured out on the defensive side of the football before they can expect to contend for a division title. They ranked dead last in the MAC in total defense last season with 510.3 yards allowed per game. However, the fact they still went 6-6 despite such a porous stop unit is reason for optimism.
5. Eastern Michigan - After going 2-22 in his first two seasons on the job, Ron English led the Eagles to a 6-6 campaign in 2011. It was the most wins posted by the program since 1995. The turnaround earned him MAC Coach of the Year honors. His team will continue to show improvement in 2012, but it will be difficult to do any better than six wins given the schedule. The Eagles have non-conference games at Purdue and Michigan State. They also have tough conference contests against Toledo, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green.
6. Central Michigan - It’s been a disappointing couple of years in Mount Pleasant. The Chippewas have won a total of six games in Dan Enos’ first two seasons. Consider that they won at least six games in each of the previous five seasons. The Chipps will have opportunities to win conference home games against Ball State and Akron and a road contest with UMass, but they’ll be hard-pressed to win any others.
MAC Championship – Ohio over Western Michigan
|Akron||Bowling Green||Buffalo||Kent State|
|Ball State||Central Michigan||Eastern Michigan|
|Northern Illinois||Toledo||Western Michigan|
|ACC||Big 12||Big East||Big Ten|
|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|