MAC Media Preseason Poll
MAC Announces A Record 57 Football Games for Television
Temple is finally eligible for the MAC title after spending two seasons in transition from the Big East. The Owls were kicked out of the Big East for failure to compete and are a dreadful 4-42 over the last four seasons. Unfortunately, they don't look ready to compete in the MAC, either, as the computer lists them as double-digit underdogs in nine games. Their closest spread is a 5.35-point loss at home to Buffalo.
Temple's addition to the conference title chase gives the MAC thirteen teams, resulting in an unbalanced conference schedule. Therefore, divisional games will be the primary factor in determining the divisional champion. Cross-over games within the conference will serve as a tie-breaker in the event that head-to-head results do not settle the issue.
Each MAC team will play a full schedule within its division. In overall MAC games, five of the six west division teams will play seven league games with one team (Toledo) playing eight conference games. Six of the seven east division schools will play eight MAC games with one (Miami) playing seven MAC contests.
The west is, by far, the strongest of the two divisions with an average power rating of 63.04 to the east's 55.83 (57.73 if you exclude lowly Temple). Each of the top four west members have higher power ratings than any team in the east.
The computer forecasts two extremely tight divisional races. The top six teams in the east are separated by no more than 7.69 power points, and the projected 6th-place team (Bowling Green) is just 4.93 power points behind preseason favorite Akron. Four of the teams picked to finish in front of BGSU, are favored by less than 2 points against the Falcons - including Akron and
The west division finds the top four teams within 4.40 points of each other, and 4th-place Northern Illinois trails 1st-place Western Michigan by a mere 3.45 points.
But before anyone gets to Detroit for the championship game, divisional parity leads to a lot of toss-up games and plenty of opportunity to alter the order of the final standings.
For example, Northern Illinois is the underdog by just 2.05 points at Toledo, and less than a point at home vs. Western Michigan.
Four of Buffalo's losses have spreads of less than five points and all three Bulls victories have spreads under 6 points.
Ohio's prognosis features two losses by fewer than six points and four wins by less than 4 points.
Central Michigan, the defending MAC champion, is the only team in the league that will begin the year with a new head coach. Three days after the Chippewas won the MAC title game over Ohio, Brian Kelly accepted the post at Cincinnati that became available when Mark Dantonio left the Bearcats to go to Michigan State. Central Michigan went on to defeat Middle Tennessee 31-14 in the Motor City Bowl with Kelly's associate head coach, Jeff Quinn, serving as interim head coach.
After the bowl game, Quinn joined Kelly's staff at Cincinnati. CMU hired West Virginia receivers coach Butch Jones on January 5 and brought him back to Mount Pleasant where he coached tight ends, receivers and running backs at various times from 1998-2004.
Two coaches are in their second year with their respective schools - Al Golden at Temple, and Turner Gill at Buffalo.
Four others are just in their third year - Shane Montgomery at Miami, Frank Solich at Ohio, and Bill Cubit at Western Michigan. Montgomery, however, was Terry Hoeppner's offensive coordinator at Miami prior to Hoeppner's move to Indiana (tragically, Hoeppner died of complications from a brain tumor on June 19.).
It could be an interesting, entertaining and unpredictable year in the MAC.