MAC Football Predictions 2013
By Matt Hetzler
MAC East Predictions 2013
#1 Bowling Green
Final Thoughts- Bowling Green was flat out awful on offense a season ago, but with 9 starters returning there is hope. Matt Schilz threw for over 2,500 yards in 2012, and has his top two receivers back. Shaun Joplin and Chris Gallon lead a very deep and talented wide receiver unit. Sophomore Andre Givens will be the Falcons starter at running back. Most of the offensive line returns, Dominic Flewellyn being the anchor up front. Bowling Green had the best defense in the MAC a year ago, and many of the major pieces are back. Bowling Green was top 15 nationally in all the major defensive categories. Gabe Martin is the teams returning leader in tackles and sacks. The secondary returns all of their starters from last fall, Boo Boo Gates will be a player to watch. With all the returning players and a favorable conference schedule, I like the Falcons to win the East and get a crack at Northern Illinois.
Final Thoughts- Tyler Tettleton is back at QB for Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobcats. Tettleton is coming off a 2,800 yard passing season, including 18 touchdowns in the air. Donte Foster will be Tettleton's go to receiver in 2013. Beau Blankenship rushed for over 1,600 yards and 15 scores last season, and is back for his senior year. The problem for Ohio on offense will be the inexperience on the offensive line. The defense was pretty good last season. The problem is that the defense lost most of those players. It will be a young and inexperienced group. Senior Keith Moore will have to be the anchor for the young defense, Moore had 98 tackles in 2012. An opening week game at Louisville, will put the defense to the test. Ohio was blessed with an easy MAC schedule as a whole, but road games at Buffalo and Bowling Green, could be the difference in making another trip to Detroit.
Final Thoughts- Buffalo returns a total of 19 players from last season. Alex Neutz returns at wide receiver after a 1,000 yards receiving last fall. They return everyone at the skill position and most of the offensive line. Buffalo struggled on offense last season, so with the experience and depth that should improve. The defense was one of the best in the MAC last season, and they return 8 starters. None better than Khalil Mack, who led the Bulls in tackles (94) and sacks (8). Mack is a playmaker and one of the better linebackers in the country. The secondary returns everyone, who finished 2nd in pass defense last year in the MAC. Buffalo has a balanced MAC schedule, and should be favored in at least 4 of those games. I think the Bulls pull off an upset or two in conference play, to finish 3rd in the East.
#4 Kent State
Final Thoughts- Kent State has one of the most exciting players in college football in Dri Archer. Archer is going to be used at receiver more this season, after rushing for nearly 1,500 yards last season. With Archer moving to WR, that puts Traylon Durham in as the starting running back. Durham rushed for over 1,300 yards last season. The Golden Flashes have to replace key positions on the line and at QB. Kent State had a pretty good year defensively in 2012, with the passing defense being the weak point. The defense may return only a handful of guys, but they should be a productive unit. Kent State finished with 11 wins last season, a total that should drop off this season. Non-conference games at Penn State and LSU being the reason.
Final Thoughts- Miami has to replace a productive Zac Dysert at QB, Austin Boucher will be the first to get a crack at it. Boucher has a couple of talented receivers in Nick Harwell and Dawan Scott returning. The passing game was solid last season, but overall the offense was bad. But with plenty of returning starters the offense could improve. The defense was just as bad as the offense was, finishing near the bottom nationally in many major categories. I wouldn't expect much of an improvement coming from this defensive group. Miami will likely start 0-4, with a tough non-conference schedule. I see them winning only 3 MAC games this season.
Final Thoughts- Akron was equally as bad as UMass last season. Akron has struggled for quite some time as a program. Akron lacks talent on both sides of the ball, but will have some experienced players back on the roster. Akron has a tough schedule this season, but they could double the win total from a year ago with a win at UMass. I think Terry Bowden has Akron moving in a positive direction.
Final Thoughts- UMass enters its second season as a FBS school. UMass struggled last season on both sides of the ball, and is a trend that should continue in 2013. UMass did get a MAC win last season, but I think they will not be as lucky this season. UMass finishes at the bottom of the MAC.
MAC West Predictions 2013
#1 Northern Illinois
Final Thoughts- Northern Illinois crashed the BCS party last season. Quarterback Jordan Lynch returns, and is a legitimate Heisman contender. Lynch can beat you with his arm and his legs. Lynch loses many of his playmakers from last season. Tommylee Lewis and Da'Ron Brown will have to step up this season, for the Huskies to crash the party again. The offensive line only replaces one starter. The defense will be a huge question mark coming into the season. The defense returns only a handful of starters. Luckily for the Huskies defense, they won't need to be great, just decent to win games. Northern Illinois plays at Iowa and Purdue in the non-conference slate pf the schedule. Northern Illinois has a pretty easy conference schedule, getting Ball State at home, but does travel to Toledo in late November. The Huskies could have another double digit win season, and they have a shot at another BCS bowl.
#2 Ball State
Final Thoughts- Keith Wenning threw for over 3,000 yards and 24 TDs in 2012, and he returns as the leader for the Ball State Cardinals. Wenning has all of his playmakers back as the skill positions. Running back Jahwan Edwards rushed for 1,410 yards and 14 scores, and leading receiver Willie Snead is back. Snead had 89 catches and 9 TDs. Ball State has to replace most of the line, which could derail this high potent offense. Ball State has some experience coming back on defense, with more than half of the starters from last season returning. The defense will have to improve on giving up 463 yards a game last season. Jonathan Newsome and his 8,5 sacks return. Ball State has a fairly balanced schedule, with the road game at Northern Illinois being the biggest. I like Ball State to return to bowl season in 2013.
Final Thoughts- Toledo's offense returns most of the starters from last season. An offense that finished 3rd in the MAC in total offense. Terrance Owens is coming off a 2,700 yard passing season last fall. Owens will have top receiver Bernard Reedy back, following an 88 catch season. The rushing game will be solid, running back David Fluellen is back. Fluellen rushed for 1,498 yards and 13 TDs last fall. With experience up front on the line, this offense will be one of the best in the MAC. The defense isn't as fortunate as the offense, having to replace nearly everyone. Toledo had one of the worst defenses in the country last season. Toledo should be able to reach yet another bowl game this season.
#4 Western Michigan
Final Thoughts- Tyler Van Tubbergen will be the starting QB for the Broncos entering the 2013 season. P.J. Fleck enters for his first season as head coach, and he will have a decent group overall. Tubbergen threw for over 1,800 yards and 15 TDs last season. The offensive line is getting a makeover, with only one returning starter. Jaime Wilson returns at wide receiver where he caught 67 passes last season. The defense was not all that bad in 2012, and they return a handful of key players. Linebackers Johnnie Simon and Desmond Bozeman are a solid group. Freshman Roosevelt Donaldson will be a big factor on the line. The secondary was the weakest part of the defense last year but return a few guys. Western Michigan could surprise some people, but I see them being decent. They have a pretty nice schedule that could get them 5-7 wins.
#5 Central Michigan
Final Thoughts- The Chippewas are coming off of a 2012 season that included a bowl win over Western Kentucky. The offense will have a new QB and the line loses #1 overall draft pick OT Eric Fisher. Zurlon Tipton returns for Central Michigan. Tipton rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 19 scores last season. The receiver position is filled with talent and playmakers. Titus Davis had 8 scores last season, and Courtney Williams is a big target. Central Michigan returns quite a few starters on defense, including linebacker Justin Cherocci who will be the anchor in the middle. The defense should improve after an awful season in 2012. If Central Michigan had a more favorable schedule, they could have been higher in the MAC West.
#6 Eastern Michigan
Final Thoughts- Eastern Michigan took a big step backwards in 2012, following a 6-6 year in 2011. Eastern Michigan was awful on both sides of the ball, which is a trend that will unfortunately continue this fall. Bronson Hill returns at running back, Hill rushed for just over 900 yards last season. But with only 1 starter returning on the line, it could be a tough year for Hill. The defense will lack experience, but safety Donald Coleman and his 88 tackles from last season return. It's going to be rough season for Eastern Michigan, and I think getting 2 wins again will be challenging for the Eagles.