The Mid-American Conference, better known as the MAC is definitely a conference you want to get familiar with if you plan on betting college football.
Especially, if you are someone who likes a lot of action and wants to bet as often as possible. While the big programs play almost all their games on Saturday, the MAC plays a high-number of their conference games during the week.
The MAC might not stack up with the likes of the American Athletic (AAC) or Mountain West (MWC) in terms of conference strength from top to bottom. I also think they have recently fell a notch below Conference USA (C-USA).
With that said, there has been at least one or two teams in the conference that has the potential to knock off a Power 5 program. Just a few years ago we saw Western Michigan make some serious noise out of this conference.
The Broncos went 13-0 and were ranked No. 15 in the country, earning them a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl as the highest rated “Group of 5” team.
Mid-American Conference College Football Preview & Predictions
Last year was not a good year for the MAC. Buffalo was the only team in the conference to reach double-digit wins at 10-4, but they also ended the year losing 3 of their last 4. That included a loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC title game and a double-digit loss to Georgia Southern in the Dollar General Bowl.
Speaking of a poor bowl showing. The MAC had 6 teams get to a bowl game in 2018. They went just 1-5 in those games and all 5 opponents were teams from other “Group of 5” conferences.
Looking ahead to 2019, it’s hard to get super excited about this conference. While there’s a couple teams that might be able to hang with the bigger programs, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the MAC got owned in non-conference play this year. Part of that is simply due to the fact that they play so many games against Power 5 teams.
Not only are there some programs (Akron, Central Michigan, Bowling Green) in the conference looking to replace coaches that were fired, teams like Northern Illinois had their head coach (Rod Carey) take a job at a bigger program.
I’ve taken a look at the circumstances for all 12 teams in the conference and put together my projections for the upcoming 2019 season below.
2019 MAC Projected Standings, Rankings & Betting Odds
I got the Rockets winning the West Division for a number of reasons. I’ll be the first admit that I though this program was going to struggle to replace Matt Campbell when he left for Iowa State. It’s easy to see why I thought that when you look at the job Campbell has done in his short stint with the Cyclones.
However, I’m a believer in Toledo’s Jason Candle, who is entering his 4th year on the job. The Rockets are doing a fantastic job of recruiting and developing their young guys in the weight room. It’s why I’m so high on them with only 11 returning starters. They got two good quarterbacks competing for time and the defense should be improved. They also get to host the top 3 contenders in the division in W. Michigan, N. Illinois and E. Michigan.
While I’m picking Toledo, Western Michigan might just be the most talent team in the conference. The Broncos have 17 returning starters, including a talented senior quarterback in Jon Wassink. The biggest reason I didn’t pick them to win the division is their schedule. Not only do they have to play Michigan State and Syracuse on the road in non-conference early, but they have to play at Toledo, at Ohio, at Eastern Michigan and at Northern Illinois.
I’ve really enjoyed watching Chris Creighton turn around the Eastern Michigan program and it’s a bit scary to think just how good things could have been the last two years. The Eagles are just 12-13 over the last two seasons, but 11 of those 13 losses were by a touchdown or less, meaning they weren’t far off from being 23-2 during this stretch. While they only have 10 starters back for 2019, are a team to watch out for.
I mention earlier that Northern Illinois had to hire a new head coach. The new guy in charge is Thomas Hammock, who played here at the turn of the century and has spent the last 4 years as the RB coach with the Baltimore Ravens. While there’s a decent amount of talent back with 13 starters returning, this a team that was lucky in close games, winning 6 of their 8 by 8 or fewer points.
In terms of experience returning, Ball State is near the top in 2019. The Cardinals have 17 starters back with 8 on offense and 9 on defense. They might be a more talented team than the one that went 4-8 last year, but the schedule will make it hard for them to top that win mark. I think anything better than a 1-8 start is a surprise.
That leaves Central Michigan. The Chippewas took a drastic turn for the worse in 2018. After going 6-2 and nearly playing for a conference title in 2017, Central Michigan didn’t win a single conference game in 2019. They are a bit of a Wild Card in my eye, as they made a decent splash with the hire of head coach Jim McElwain. While McElwain struggled to take Florida where they wanted to go, he did some big things with Colorado State prior to that gig.
While I think Toledo is far from a lock to win the West, I feel pretty confident with Ohio capturing the title in the East. As you can see, I got them a full 3-games ahead of the pack at 7-1 with a chance to reach double-digit wins in the MAC title and their bowl game.
While the Bobcats have just 10 starters back, they got the best QB in the conference in senior Nathan Rourke, who did it all for Ohio in 2019. They might not put up 40 ppg like they did in 2018, but this team will score a lot and simply outscore a lot of their opponents.
The real interesting development in the East will be the battle for runner-up and who can get to that magic 6-6 mark for bowl eligibility.
I got Buffalo, Miami (OH) and Kent State all finishing at 4-4 and while I got Buffalo as the lone team that gets to 6-wins, I wouldn’t be shocked if it was either of the other two. There’s not a lot of room for error for a team like the Redhawks, who play 3 of their first 4 games on the road against Iowa, Tennessee and Ohio State. If injuries pile up in those games, it can derail an entire season.
Kent State is probably the big surprise, as this is a team that has won a grand total of 6 conference games over the last 4 seasons and haven’t finished at .500 or better in the MAC since 2012. I like what I saw out of the Golden Flashes in 2018, which was their first under head coach Sean Lewis. They got 15 starters back so they should only be better and the schedule works in their favor with some very winnable home games.
Just one year after getting the Zips to the MAC title game, Akron decided to part ways with head coach Terry Bowden after a disappointing 4-8 campaign. The new guy in charge is Tom Arth, who has not coached a game at the FBS level. With only 10 starters back and what figures to be one of the worst defenses in the conference, wins will be tough to come by.
That leaves Bowling Green in the basement and it’s hard to argue with this one. The Falcons will be in the first year of a new head coach (Scott Loeffler) with just 12 starts back from a team that won 3 games last year. Plus, this Falcons team saw a number of their top starters transfer away from the program, including projected starting QB Jarret Doege, who left after spring practice. I may have been generous giving them a win in league play.
MAC Championship Game: Ohio defeats Toledo
2019 MAC Win Totals