Thursday, August 3, 2017

College Football: Season Preview: The Midwestern Athletic Conference

In 2016 Western Michigan rowed the boat all the way to a drubbing in a New Year's Six bowl. But that was a win for a conference who often finds itself hopelessly lost in the shadow of the geographically similar B1G.  While I think the Broncos will still be plenty good, I think they will miss P.J. Fleck quite a bit and I also think they run up against a Toledo team that's loaded.

In the East I think it's the revenge of coaching war horse Frank Solich who will win the East but will, once again, fall short in the championship game.

Here's how I see it falling out....

Conference Standings:
East W L West W L
Ohio 10 2 Toledo 11 1
Miami (OH) 9 3 Western Michigan 9 3
Bowling Green 5 7 Central Michigan 8 4
Akron 4 8 Northern Illinois 7 5
Kent State 2 10 Ball State 3 9
Buffalo 1 11 Eastern Michigan 2 10
Won division Won division
Conference Championship: Toledo over Ohio
Bowl Teams: 6
CFP: None
Big 6: None
CFP 2: None
Others: Ohio
Miami (OH)
Western Michigan
Central Michigan
Northern Illinois
Most Underrated: Central Michigan
Most Overrated: Eastern Michigan
Coaches on Hot Seat:
Kent State
Ball State
Eastern Michigan

The name to pay attention to in the MAC this year is Toledo signal-caller Logan Woodside. I fully expect him to be the conference offensive player of the year and they get Western Michigan at home. Defensively the Rockets should be pretty good as well, returning seven starters. In the East I see it being a two-team race that feels similar to 2016.  Miami (OH) and Ohio will be right at the top all year and their game against each other (Halloween, at Ohio) will probably determine the conference winner.  I give the edge to Ohio because they are going to have an outstanding defense to go along with a competent offense.

My bold MAC prediction is this:  Central Michigan is going to be pretty good this year and will comfortably make a bowl at 8-4. I think Michigan transfer Josh Morris gets the starting nod and is successful in getting the ball to a talented group of playmakers.

I also think, sadly, that Eastern Michigan is going to struggle again.  They'll score at ton of points, but they'll give up more.  Add to that a brutal schedule and I can't see them winning more than two games.  That's too bad because I think head coach Cris Creighton did some good work last year, but coaching at EMU is going to do him in.

The problem, again, for the MAC is that once you get past the top teams, the conference falls off a ledge. Kent State and Buffalo should compete for the worst team in the league, with Kent State HC Paul Haynes being shown the exit by season's end. Ball State, and Akron are also going to be pretty bad, and we've already discussed the plight of EMU.

2017 won't have the magical ride for the MAC that 2016 did, but it won't be bad either with a projected six teams receiving bowl bids.

OPOY: Logan Woodside (Toledo)
DPOY: Quentin Poling (Ohio)
COY: Frank Solich (Ohio)

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