MAC Football Predictions 2014
By Matt Hetzler
Mid-American Conference Predictions 2014
#1 Bowling Green
Offense: QB Matt Johnson will return to lead the Falcons in the 2014 season. Johnson had a break-out year in 2013. Johnson threw for 3,467 yards and 25 TD’s. Johnson can also run the ball, he added 5 TD’s on the ground. Junior RB Travis Greene returns after rushing for 1,594 yards in 2013. Johnson loses his top two receivers from last season, but sophomore Ronnie Moore is capable of adding a spark in the pass game. The offensive line should be solid with three starters returning up front.
Defense: The defense will look to replace key players off of last season’s team. The BG defense was one of the best in the entire country. The Falcons will get their two leading tacklers from last season back, in LB DJ Lynch and FS Ryland Ward. Taylor Royster had 3.5 sacks last season and returns up front for the defense.
Special Teams: Kicker Tyler Tate returns, he was solid in 2013 going 18-22 with a long of 52. Joe Davidson will handle the punting duties.
Overview: Bowling Green is coming off of a 10 win season and a MAC Championship. The offense will be even better this season and the defense should be able to make enough stops to win games. Bowling Green plays both Indiana and Wisconsin in the non-conference. Games at Toledo, Ohio, and Akron will be tough challenges if they want to return to the MAC Championship.
Overview: Buffalo will return one of the best QB’s in the league. Joe Licata threw for nearly 3,000 yards and had 24 TD’s. Licata loses his top two receivers from last season, and will look for young skill players to step up for him. Buffalo also loses a 1,500 yard rusher. The offensive line returns four starters, which should help allow the young skill players develop. The defense loses Khali Mack and many key players from last season. Lee Skinner and Adam Redden return at linebacker. The secondary only returns one starter which could be a potential problem for the Bulls. Buffalo benefits from one of the easier MAC schedules, which is why they could be a contender. The lack of experience on the roster leaves plenty of questions. Buffalo should be able to win eight games with the schedule they were given.
Overview: Akron is slowly rebuilding under head coach Terry Bowden. After three straight one win seasons, Akron won five games in 2013. The Zips return 14 starters from last season, so there is hope of Akron getting back into bowl season. The offense will be led by QB Kyle Pohl, Pohl struggled at times last season completing only 56% of his passes. RB Jawon Chisholm is a play maker, he had eight TD’s last season. WR’s Zach D’Orazio and LT Smith will be back, and add some experience at the positon. Linebackers Jatavis Brown and Justin March are proven in the middle of the defense. The defense should be much improved and primed for a run in the MAC. Akron hosts BG but travels to Ohio, Ball State, Buffalo, and Kent State. The road schedule in conference is tough, and if they could steal a couple wins, the Zips could find themselves playing for the title.
#3 Kent State
Overview: Kent State returns 14 players from last season’s team. The Golden Flash only won four games last season, but return many key players. On offense the Flash return QB Colin Reardon, top rusher Trayion Durham, and receiver Chris Humphrey. Three returning starters on the line will give the Flashes stability. The defense will be experienced and could become on the better defenses in the league. Matt Dellinger and Jordan Italiano are the leading tacklers returning. Kent State has a rough schedule in conference. Road trips to NIU and BG will be tough to win. Kent State is a sleeper in the MAC this season.
Overview: Ohio has been one of the more consistent programs since Frank Solich took over in Athens. Ohio will look to replace many key players across the roster. The Bobcats lose the top QB from last season, RB and WR. The Bobcats are also inexperienced on the line. The defense is in a much better position. The Bobcats return Eight starters on defense. Tarell Bashem had 7.5 sacks last season at the end position. Top tackler Ben Russell returns at LB. Josh Kristoff is one of the better safeties in the league, had 72 tackles last season. Ohio has a tough schedule this season. They open at Kent State which is an intriguing week one matchup. Ohio does get BG and NIU at home. As good as the Bobcats program has been, this season may not be as good as some expect. The offense has too many holes for them to be successful this season.
#6 Miami OH
Overview: Miami finished 2013 winless, but returns 15 starters. The offense was a mess last season, this season Miami returns all five lineman. The run game should be better, and QB play must improve over past seasons. LB Kent Kern and CB Heath Harding at bright spots on a defense with little talent. Chuck Martin will have his hands full in his first season at Miami. The Redhawks get UMass at home which will be a great chance to get a win in the MAC. Miami could possibly win two to three games this season, but are far away from being legit contenders in the MAC.
Overview: UMass has the same problem as the Miami Redhawks, they lack talent across the board. UMass was able to beat Miami last season for its second conference win in program history. This will be the Minutemen’s third season in the MAC and it will be just as hard. The Eastern Michigan game at home could be the best chance for UMass to grab a win this season.
#1 Northern Illinois
Offense: Northern Illinois loses star QB Jordan Lynch, but Junior Matt McIntosh will look to fill his shoes. McIntosh has little playing experience but will get the first shot at being the starter. Cameron Stingily will return at RB and is coming off of a big 2013 season, where he rushed for over 1,100 yards. NIU has two big time receivers in Da’ron Brown and Tommylee Lewis. Lewis pulled in 86 receptions last season and Brown had nine TD’s. NIU will have a veteran offensive line, with three seniors up front, including LT Tyler Loos. The offense returns nine starters but it will be tough to match last year’s numbers without Jordan Lynch.
Defense: The defense will look to replace all the starters on the defensive line. No starters return up front from a defense that was pretty good last season. The linebackers will be great, Jamaal Bass and Boomer Mays return. Bass had 87 tackles in 2013 and Mays added 82. Jamaal Payton added 42 last season as a true freshman. The secondary returns two starters and the best is FS Dechane Durante who had 55 tackles and three picks.
Special Teams: Tyler Wedel will handle both kicking and punting duties this season. Tommylee Lewis will be a threat in the return game.
Overview: Northern Illinois will have some competition in the MAC this season. It will be hard to replace the productivity of a player with the caliber of Jordan Lynch. The coaching staff is one of the best in MAC and they will be a contender for a conference title. Toledo visits the Huskies late in the season and that game could determine the champion in the West. NIU has two very tough road games out of conference at North Western and Arkansas. Games at Ohio and Ball State could be possible spoilers. I like the Huskies to win the MAC West, the offense should be very solid and with good QB play could run the table in the MAC.
Overview: Toledo is primed for a great 2014 campaign. Toledo returns 16 total starters, and nine on defensive will help. The offense has to find replacements for Terrance Owens and David Fluellen. Alabama transfer Phillip Ely will be the starting QB and the run game will be solid with Kareem Hunt who rushed for over 850 yards last season. Toledo loses the top receiver from last season, but Alonzo Russel returns after catching 59 balls last season. The defense brings back its top two tacklers from last season. Junior Sylvestre and Chase Murdock will continue to wreak havoc in the middle of the defense. The defense line returns three players. The secondary has three returnees as well. The kicking game will be solid with Jeremiah Detmer returning after going 19-20 last season. Toledo has the ability to win the entire MAC with the one of the best defenses in the conference. Toledo gets NIU and Bowling Green in back to back weeks, those will be the two biggest games of the season for the Rockets.
#3 Ball State
Overview: Ball State is coming off a double digit win season, but losing QB Keith Wenning and WR Willie Snead is a huge blow to the program. Luckily for the Cardinals top rusher Jahwan Edwards is back, as well as WR Jordan Williams who had over 1,000 yards receiving. The offensive line only returns two starters and lacks depth. The defense returns six players including the top four tacklers from last season. Darnell Smith is a transfer from Notre Dame and should make a big impact up front. The linebackers are some of the best in the MAC. Ben Ingle had 116 tackles last season. The secondary is experienced and returns both Brian Jones and Dae’Shaun Hurley who could be potential stars in the MAC. Ball State has a tough game at BG and gets NIU at home. The lack of experience at the QB position could be a problem at the start of the season, but the defense should do enough to win the close games in 2014.
#4 Central Michigan
Overview: The Chippewas return all 11 starters on the offensive side of the ball. QB Cooper Rush struggled last season as a freshman, throwing 15 interceptions. The run game should be solid with the return of Saylor Lavallii. The top three receiver return, including Titus Davis who had over 1,100 yards last season. The offensive line should be much better after a season of playing together. The defense returns eight starters from last season. Justin Cherocci had 121 tackles last season and returns at middle linebacker. The defensive line should be improved, and the secondary is a decent unit. CB Jason Wilson had three picks and 61 tackles last season. Central Michigan will be loaded with experience, whether that translates into wins has yet to be seen. The Chippewas will have to visit Toledo, Northern Illinois and Buffalo. Home games vs Ohio and Ball State will cement the success of this season.
#5 Western Michigan
Overview: Western Michigan will have the experience it needs on offense this season. QB Zach Terrill could be the starter, if not it will be Freshman Chance Stewart. Leading rusher Dareyon Chance returns, and top receivers Corey Davis and Kendrick Roberts are back. Four returning starters on the offensive line should help the Broncos. On defense the Broncos could possibly have the best secondary in the league. SS Justin Currie has 113 tackles and three picks last season. The rest of the defense is filled with holes and question marks. Western Michigan won only one game last season against Massachusetts. Western Michigan should be slightly better this season, but the lack of experience at key positions could hurt the Broncos.
#6 Eastern Michigan
Overview: The Eagles will look to get out of the bottom of the MAC this season. Nine returners on offense will help, leading rusher Bronson Hill returns. Hill rushed for over 1,100 yards and added five TDs. The receivers have experience and should be a reliable source of yardage. The offensive line returns four starters. The defense returns six starters, but is really bad. The defense gave up 50+ points in 6 games last season. Eastern will have to sure up the defense before they enjoy some wins. The Eagles will end up at the bottom of the West yet again in 2014.
MAC Offensive Player of the Year
Jawon Chisholm, RB, Akron
MAC Defensive Player of the Year
Jamaal Bass, LB, Northern Illinois
MAC Coach of the Year
Dino Babers, Bowling Green
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