The MAC is probably the worst conference in the FBS (the Sun Belt is the only other conference that compares). Most of the teams in the conference are really really bad. However, they have always been one of my favorite conferences to watch (I am still shocked that Garrett Wolfe hasn't turned into a very good NFL runningback). The conference does boast former players like Big Ben of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers.
These guys won 8 games last year, a dramatic turnaround from just a few years ago. They return 9 starters on both sides of the ball from last years team. They ran the ball really well last year, and return their star running back. The line has some changes but should be okay. The defense looks to be really good as well.
Final Prediction: New Hampshire is followed by Ohio State and Boise State. Its never fun to get lit up two weeks in a row, but its going to happen. However, they could skate through the rest of the schedule and win 10 games and the conference.
They were top 15 in the country in both offense and defense last year. However, they were shocked in the MAC championship game by Miami (OH). Dave Doeren takes over as head coach, and he doesn't need to make many changes it appears. They return a very nice quarterback in Harnish, but lost their leading rusher from last year. The line all returns, meaning that this will be a very good offense. However, their defense does look shaky. They only return two starters on that side of the ball and the secondary may be really bad, and with a couple of really good passing teams in this conference, that spells big trouble.
Final Prediction: They start the year with Army, Kansas, and Wisconsin. That is a pretty tough stretch. I think these guys will be good and win 8 or 9 games, but with the secondary problems, I believe they will come up just short of the conference championship again.
One of College Football's best stories last season, as they had an awful 1-11 season in 09, and then won the MAC championship and 10 games in 2010. However, there is a coaching change, and with that brings, well, change. There are 8 returning starters on offense, including both quarterbacks they used last year. They did lose star runningback Merriweather, and he was one of my favorite players in college football last season, he won't be easy to replace. They do have 9 defensive players returning from last year's solid defense.
Final Prediction: They start the year against Missouri and Minnesota, and also have to play Cincinnati and Army. This year won't be like last year, and don't expect them to repeat, but they should still be good and win about 7.
They went 8-4 last year before losing to an exciting Troy team in the New Orleans Bowl. They have been very competitive in the MAC the past few seasons, and they bring back the best offense in the conference. The whole offensive line returns and it all starts up front. The defense only returns just two starters and appear to be the weak spot on this team. The secondary could cost this team some games.
Final Prediction: New Mexico State and Gardener-Webb is how the season starts. They do have to play Rutgers later on though. 7 wins seem pretty reasonable for these guys, anything less than another bowl game would be disappointing.
They went 6-6 last year, but weren't picked by a bowl. They have quite a quarterback in Alex Carder, and are able to throw the ball really well. Their defensive is really solid upfront and can control a game in this conference. The only real questions this team has is what their running game will do, and how their offensive line (that is replacing 3 starters) will hold up.
Final Prediction: Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut are the toughest teams on the schedule. Expect another 6 win season, and its easy to see how the bowls will ignore them again.
Despite going 3-9 last season, they threw the ball all over the field last year. This program had competed in the MAC for the past several years, before the big flop of last year. Dan Enos is entering his second year, and he better turn things around pretty quick. He does return 8 starters on offense, and several on defense. The season will seem to hinge on whether they can run the ball, and thats not good news.
Final Prediction: Michigan State, North Carolina State and Kentucky are tough games, while South Carolina State is not. 5 wins seem reasonable, an improvement from last year.
They lost Al Golden to Miami (which may have turned out to be a mistake for Golden). They won 8 games and still managed to somehow not be invited to a bowl. The offense was mediocre last year but they are coming back experienced and will probably be better (though one wonders how the new coach will affect this team). Three starters on the line return, but the two that left were two of the best in the MAC. The defense has been key for this team in recent seasons, and this year they have to replace most of the players that helped them secure winning records.
Final Prediction: Villanova, Akron, and Penn State is how they begin the year. Toledo and Army will provide interesting match-ups later in the season. I don't like all the changes and I don't really believe in this team. Expect about 5 wins.
In comes in a new coach, but they return 14 starters. They were 5-7 last year, and so the question of this off-season was whether to rebuild, or whether to just try keep the same system. They haven't made a bowl game since 1972, so its not like there is a winning tradition to use to recruit. They have a linebacker that is a NFL prospect, but not a whole lot else on defense.
Final Prediction: They start the year with Alabama, and will be absolutely destroyed in that contest. They also play Kansas State, another game they don't have any business winning. 4 or 5 wins again for this team.
After a really terrible season last year, they have a new coach. They really couldn't throw the ball last year. On the other hand, their running game looks to be pretty good. Their defense was pretty bad last year, but they are expecting some improvement.
Final Prediction: Indiana, Army, and Oklahoma will be challenging to say the least. South Florida and Northern Illinois won't be easy either. They haven't been to a bowl game since 08, and its doubtful that they will make one this year as they will probably go through another 4-8 season.
They won a grand total of one game last year, and went winless in the MAC. They were one of the worst offenses last year, combined with a really really bad defense. Don't expect it to get any better either as they just don't have any talent.
Final Prediction: Akron always insists on playing Ohio State, and it never goes very well for them. They must do it for money. The only other really tough game on the schedule is Cincinnati. 2-3 wins is what you can expect from these guys.
2-10 was the record last year. Perhaps the biggest reason this happened was that they were the worst in the country at running the ball last year. Experts say that they are building a good program and will good soon, but its really hard to see them improving too much on either side of the ball this season.
Final Prediction: West Virginia is the only ranked team on the schedule, and Idaho and Morgan State aren't very good. That may be their only two wins. But those aren't necessarily guaranteed.
They were the worst offense in the country last year and were another 2-10 team last season. They return 8 starters from that terrible offense and only 3 from the mediocre defense. The O-line is supposed to be bigger and better, but by how much is the real question.
Final Prediction: Tennessee and Pittsburgh are teams that Buffalo has no business playing. Stony Brook is on the schedule and may be their only win.
15 straight losing seasons! 15! They were awful on both offense and defense last year. Head Coach Ron English is 2-22 in his two seasons.
Final Prediction: Howard and Alabama State are easy ways to start. But then they turn around and play Michigan and Penn State. Its really hard to pick who is going to be last in this conference because the cellar is really low, but I am giving that honor to these guys. Be happy with 1 win.