2011 MAC Football Predictions and Futures Odds
by Darin Zank - 8/16/2011
The 13-team Mid-American Conference may provide nonconference fodder for some of the bigger boys around college football, but it has also been the home recently to some pretty good league races and crazy conference championship games. A great example is last year when the previously downtrodden Miami Redhawks, who went went 1-7 in the MAC the previous season, rebounded to go 7-1 and win the East Division, then, as 18-point underdogs, they scored a touchdown with 30 seconds left to upset Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game.
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Here's a look at the upcoming season in the MAC, and some predictions and futures odds courtesy of BetOnline.
The Toledo Rockets went 7-1 in the MAC last year, losing only at Northern Illinois, before falling by a couple of points to Florida International in a bowl game. So Toledo has improved from 3-9 to 8-5 in two seasons under Coach Beckman. This year the Rockets get a league-high 18 starters back, including their starting QB, 1,100-yard rusher Adonis Thomas, WR/KR Eric Page (99 catches for 1,100 yards last year), three on the O-line and nine on defense, including the entire secondary. That defense, however, did have a few problems last year. Importantly, Toledo gets to host two of the main contenders in the MAC West, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, on back-to-back Tuesday nights in November. BetOnline is listing the Rockets at +150 to win the West Division and at +350 to win the MAC Championship.
Miami pulled off one of the biggest turnarounds in the country last year, going from a team that had gone 3-21 the previous two seasons combined to 10-4 conference champions with a bowl victory. The main reason for the reversal was the Redhawks defense; in 2009 they allowed 187 yards per game on the ground and 34 PPG; last year they cut those numbers to 128 rushing yards allowed and 23 PPG. This year Miami returns 17 starters for new Coach Treadwell, including two QBs with starting experience, four on the O-line and nine on defense. Miami's biggest hindrance to a repeat, though, might be the schedule. The 2011 Miami-Ohio football schedule calls for trips to Kent State, Toledo, Temple and Ohio. BetOnline is lining the Redhawks at +300 to win the East Division and +500 to win the MAC.
The Dark Horse
Western Michigan went 5-3 in the MAC last year, ranking second in the league at +79 YPG in MAC play. So the Broncos are now 29-18 in MAC play in six seasons under Coach Cubit. This year Western Michigan gets 15 starters back, led by QB Alex Carder (63 percent completions last year, 30/12 TD/INT), the entire RB corps, the best set of receivers in the league and the entire defensive line. The Broncos have to play at Northern Illinois, at Toledo and at Miami, but if they can win a couple of those they'll be right in the running. BetOnline is offering Western Michigan at +350 to win the West and +1,000 to win the MAC.
The X Factor
Northern Illinois was easily the best team in the league last year, outgaining MAC foes by 200 YPG, outscoring them by 32 PPG and nearly going perfect through MAC play, until giving up a late touchdown to lose to Miami in the conference championship game. This year the Huskies are working under a new head coach after Jerry Kill got the call from Minnesota of the Big Ten, and they get back only 10 starters, fewest in the league. And while they return QB Chandler Harnish (65 percent completions last year, 21/5 TD/INT), their top three receivers and the entire O-line, they lose 1,400-yard rusher Chad Spann and get back only two starters on defense. BetOnline is listing the Huskies at +150 to win the West and +350 to win the MAC.
Ball State went 12-2 in 2008 and garnered national attention. This led to the flight of Coach Hoke to the West Coast. The Cardinals then went 2-10 and 4-8 in two seasons under Coach Parrish. This led to his removal. Last year Ball State went 3-5 in the MAC, with a couple of those losses of the close variety. This year the Cardinals return 17 starters, including their QB, leading rusher, top three receivers, four on the O line and seven on D, for new HC Pete Lembo, who had success as the head man at FCS Lehigh and Elon. BetOnline is lining the Cards at +1,200 to win the West this year and +350 to win the MAC.
Temple went 17-8 its last two seasons under Coach Golden, 12-4 in the MAC, and made its first bowl appearance in 30 years. But Golden is gone, off to Miami-Florida, and the change in coaches will have a serious effect on the Owls. Temple returns only 12 starters for new HC Steve Addazio, and while most of their skill position players are back, they lose their top four tacklers on defense. BetOnline is offering Temple at +250 to win the East Division and +400 to win the MAC.
Ohio (+150 East, +500 MAC) went 6-2 in the MAC last year, but gets only 11 starters back this year, including just four on defense; Central Michigan (+750 West, +1,500 MAC), coming off its worst MAC season (2-6) in five years, returns 14 starters, eight on offense; Kent State (+1,200 East, +3,000 MAC) gets back 14 starters for its first season under new HC Darrell Hazell, the former assistant HC at Ohio State; Akron (+1,200 East, +3,000 MAC) returns 14 starters from the team that ranked a distant last in the league last year at -148 YPG in MAC play; Bowling Green (+1,400 East, +3,000 MAC) gets seven starters back on both sides of the ball from a team that plunged to 1-7 in the MAC last year; Buffalo returns eight starters on offense but only three on defense from a team that stumbled to 1-7 in the MAC in its first season without Coach Gill; and Eastern Michigan (+1,600 West, +4,000 MAC) will try to improve upon its 2-14 MAC record in its first two seasons under Coach English.
2011 MAC Predicted Order of Finish
1 – Miami
2 – Ohio
3 – Kent State
4 – Temple
5 – Bowling Green
6 – Akron
7 – Buffalo
1 – Toledo
2 – Central Michigan
3 – Western Michigan
4 – Ball State
5 – Northern Illinois
6 – Eastern Michigan
Doc’s Sports is set to embark on their 40th year in the sports handicapping business this football season. Yes, Doc started the company back in 1971 and still spends his weekends in front of the TV watching numerous games throughout the day. We are again expecting a monster season in college football anchored by our weekly selections from the Big Ten Conference. Our main office is located right in the heart of Big Ten Country and each year we fully expect to hit 2 out of every 3 college football picks we release from this conference. Jump on board now with a full season football picks package from Doc’s Sports!
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