2012 Mid-American Conference Football Preview, Predictions
The MAC is coming off its most successful postseason in league history, where it posted a 4-1 bowl record. This includes Ohio defeating Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
There is no definite favorite for the conference title this year, but it's without question that the West still retains the dominance.
Here is a preview of the 2012 MAC football season with predictions.
1. Ohio Bobcats: 10-2 (7-1)
Ohio has won at least eight games over its last four seasons, including its first bowl win in program history last year. It returns a solid junior quarterback and experienced defense in 2012, which should take care of its cupcake schedule. The Bobcats are poised to take their third MAC title in four years.
2. Bowling Green Falcons: 8-4 (6-2)
BGSU brings back 17 starters—most in the conference—from a team that was almost bowl eligible last year. Of those is quarterback Matt Schilz, who threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in '11. With arguably the easiest schedule in the MAC, the Falcons could contend with Ohio for the East.
3. Miami (Oh.) RedHawks: 7-5 (6-2)
Senior quarterback Zac Dysert will suit up for MU one more time in attempt to reach a bowl for the second time in three years. With a load of experience returning for the RedHawks, we could see a complete turnaround from their 4-8 season.
4. Buffalo Bulls: 3-9 (2-6)
Buffalo football just hasn't been the same since Turner Gill left for Kansas (who was fired after two seasons, then hired by Liberty in December). It has combined for a 10-26 record since, and although the Bulls should be somewhat improved from a year ago, the near future doesn't look much brighter.
5. Kent State Golden Flashes: 2-10 (1-7)
The last time Kent State made a bowl appearance was in 1972 the same year the Immaculate Reception was born. Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, a reception of any kind was hard to come by last season, as the passing game finished 110th in the nation. They'll have another solid defense to field, but unless Terry Bradshaw takes the field, KSU won't come near tasting the postseason.
6. Akron Zips: 2-10 (1-7)
Terry Bowden is back in action, but he takes on a roster with perhaps the least amount of talent in all of Division 1-A college football. The Zips ranked 118th and 116th in the country on offense and defense, respecively, contributing to their 1-11 record and zero wins against FBS opponents. The offense should be slightly improved, but don't expect big changes in the "W" column for 2012.
7. Massachusetts Minutemen: 0-12 (0-8)
The Minutemen defined themselves well at the FCS level, winning the 1998 national title and making the playoffs four other times since then. However, they're 16-17 since 2009 and have recently struggled as a defensive unit (27.9 points allowed per game last season). This is not a good sign heading into a conference that's known for its Wednesday night shootouts.
1. Toledo Rockets: 9-3 (7-1)
2012 will be a big test for the Rockets, who will have a 32-year-old coach lead the way to what should be an interesting season. When Tim Beckman left for Illinois, he left the job to former offensive coordinator Matt Campbell, who has been known as an offensive guru—he won two national titles as the OC for Mount Union at ages 25 and 26. With high-profile 3- and 4-star recruits replacing top playmakers, Toledo shouldn't miss a beat this fall.
2. Western Michigan: 9-3 (6-2)
A consistently good program, Western Michigan has a great opportunity to win its first MAC title in over a decade with the possibility of Toledo and Northern Illinois transitioning through "reloading" years. With one of the nation's best passing games returning at full force combined with a friendly schedule, expect strong contention from the Broncos.
3. Northern Illinois: 9-3 (6-2)
History shows that when mid-major teams lose their diamond-in-the-rough star quarterbacks, they're not very good the following year. NIU will not return QB Chandler Harnish (Mr. Irrelevant), who won 28 games gearing up as a Huskie throughout his collegiate career. Northern Illinois has a lot to prove in 2012, and returning skill position players will have to step up in order to remain a MAC powerhouse.
4. Ball State Cardinals: 4-8 (3-5)
Ball State football seems to be on the rise as of late, but a below-average defense and extremely difficult schedule will likely hold it from the postseason for at least one more year. Still, keep your eye on the Cardinals, who possess some appealing depth at key positions.
5. Eastern Michigan Eagles: 4-8 (2-6)
EMU hasn't reach a bowl since 1987, and before last year, it looked like the Eagles would never play in December again. Coach Ron English took his team to a 6-6 record last season, but did not receive a bowl bid. Despite some major defensive losses, Eastern Michigan has reason to stay optimistic in 2012. But how far will that take it?
6. Central Michigan Chippewas: 3-9 (2-6)
Like last year, the Chips will experience, well, inexperience all around. They have a very young starting roster and will continue to grow and learn from mistakes, but know this: there will be plenty of them.
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