Thursday, August 6, 2009
Breaking Down the NCAA Part 11 of 12
Mid-American Conference Order of Finish
1.Western Michigan University-Before you call me a homer, here are the facts on why WMU will defeat CMU this season in the standings. WMU gets CMU at home, and the Broncos toughest MAC road game is at Northern Illinois. CMU has to travel to Bowling Green, WMU and Buffalo. In the MAC, cross division games count the same as regular division games. WMU only has to travel to Kent State, Eastern Michigan University, and Toledo. Not too difficult. QB Tim Hiller has been named for multiple preseason awards and will break multiple WMU and MAC passing records this season. A tough gritty leader who played through a torn ACL the last four games last season he has a quick release and an accurate arm. RB Brandon West is a preseason Doak Walker Award watch list, and is a great returner as well. His blazing speed is complimented by RB Aaron Winchester. RB is deep for the Broncos, but WR is not. Juan Nunez had a terrible drop in the Texas Bowl but looks to be a leader and take over where Jamarko Simmons left off. The Broncos lost a lot on defense but looks to fill in holes. LB Austin Prichard is All-MAC and plays tough. HC Bill Cubit signed a 3 year extension in the offseason and has this program in the right direction. WMU should have another awesome season that ends with a bowl and a possibility of the best season in Bronco history.
2.Central Michigan University- QB Dan LeFevour leads the best offense in the MAC. A tough injury filled Junior campaign should have him really gunning to impress this fall. He could be the only 1st rounder in next year’s NFL draft produced by the MAC. He is that talented. He can beat you with his legs and arm, and is sometimes called Tebow Light. He has a great supporting cast in RB Bryan Schroeder and WR Bryan Anderson. The Chips are going to start a freshman at LT, Jake Olson who is 6’8’’ but must add weight (268 Lb). The defense is a work in progress. The defense led the league in sacks last year and the star is fan favorite DE Frank Zombo. LB Nick Bellore is All-MAC caliber player and a leader on the team. The secondary may struggle some, and that can hurt in the pass happy MAC.
3.Northern Illinois- The Huskies are building themselves back to being the MAC-West powerhouse they were not so long ago. HC Jerry Kill inherited a 2-10 team and turned them into a 6-7 team last year losing in the Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech. The Huskies had the best defense in the league last season and two time MAC defensive player of the year Larry English was selected in the 1st round by San Diego. QB Chandler Harnish needs to improve a unit that averaged less than 20 points a game last year. Another bowl game is entirely possible for the Huskies.
4.Ball State- The Cardinals lost a lot going into this season. QB Nate Davis left school early to be selected in the 5th round by the San Francisco 49ers. WR Dante Love was spectacular last season returning kicks and receiving before suffering a career ending neck injury. HC Brady Hoke left school to take the job at San Diego State. Opposing teams will see heavy doses of RB MiQuale Lewis. The 5’6’’ 184 pound Senior is a powerful bowling ball runner and could lead the MAC in rushing yards. The non conference is luckily light (North Texas, New Hampshire, Army and Auburn) but matching last year’s 12-2 record is impossible.
5.Toledo- Last year the Rockets beat Michigan at the Big House, but otherwise it was an awful season. The defense was awful, but the offense can produce enough points to return to respectability. QB Aaron Opelt leads an attack that has weapons at RB (DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams) and WR (Stephen Williams). The non conference is tough (Purdue, Colorado, Ohio State and Florida International) and the Rockets must travel to CMU and Bowling Green. Toledo will be improved but it will be another difficult season with new coach Tim Beckman.
6.Eastern Michigan- Senior QB Andy Schmitt is a good dual threat player and can be a building block for new HC Ron English. English, a former Michigan Defensive Coordinator, looks to lead the Eagles to their first winning season since 1995. The defense has good size up front but will miss LB Daniel Holtzclaw roaming the middle. This should be another tough season in Ypsilanti, but the program has shed its disciplinary problems and can start building in the right direction.
1.Bowling Green- QB Tyler Sheehan is the third best signal caller in the MAC behind Hiller and LeFevour. Like the other two, he has pro potential. Sheehan is a dual threat QB that led the team in rushing. A RB must emerge to take some pressure off of Sheehan. Sheehan was effective at passing the ball around and has 3 line starters returning. The Falcons ranked second in defense last year, but returns only 3 starters. If they can reload, they can improve on the disappointing 6-6 season last year. Bowling Green just missed out on a bowl game last year, but that should not be the case this season.
2.Temple- The Owls have gone a major transformation in the last few years. From independents to MAC football members and Al Golden took over at coach. Temple lost 5 games of a touchdown or less last season, and went 5-7. This year led by a stingy experienced defense (9 returning starters) and a rebuilding offense, Temple will make a bowl game and a push for the East Division title. The offense looks to be leaning on the run this year replacing 3 year starter in Adam DiMichele. RB Lamar McPherson is a tough runner and the number 2 option is Ahkeem Smith. Things are getting better in Owl nation.
3.Buffalo- The Bulls had an amazing season last year. 8-6 and a MAC Championship were huge for a team that totaled 10 wins since playing in FBS (D-1). Buffalo kept HC Turner Gill for at least one more season before a bigger and more expensive job comes calling. QB Drew Willy graduated but his replacement looks to be Sophomore Zach Maynard. The defense was not anything special last season but LB Justin Winters and SS Davonte Shannon return to improve the unit. Non conference games against UTEP, UCF, Pittsburgh and Gardner-Webb should provide wins and a little more spotlight for a team on the rise.
4.Akron- Another East team that just missed out on a bowl last season, Akron opens up a new stadium this season. The Rubber Bowl closes down, and InfoCision Stadium opens up. New MAC Stadiums do not happen every day, so the Zips will look to come out of the gate running. A veteran team led by QB Chris Jacquemin and 4 top WR return. The defense should be better with more experience, but road trips to CMU, Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Bowling Green could mean a tough season in Akron.
5.Ohio- The Bobcats seems to have a lot going for them heading into this season. They hung with Ohio State for 3+ quarters last September. They have two good returning QBs in Boo Jackson and Theo Scott and they have an up and coming coach in Frank Solich. The defense is solid as well. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt, and the running game was not strong at all. Ohio played tougher than a 4-8 may seem, but a lot has to emerge to contend in the rebuilt and reloaded Eastern Division.
6. Kent State- QB Julian Edelman was drafted by the Patriots in the draft to probably run the wildcat offense in the NFL this season. His replacement Giorgio Morgan will benefit from 4 OL starters returning and a (hopefully) healthy RB Eugene Jarvis. Jarvis is only 5’5’’ 170 lbs, but runs tough and will battle with MiQuale Lewis for the MAC rushing title. The defense will be younger this year and they must gel quickly with non conference games against Coastal Carolina, Boston College, Iowa State and Baylor. Most of the tougher games for the Golden Flashes are at home, but Kent State could need another few seasons to be a contender.
7. Miami (Ohio)- The Redhawks had a tough season last year finishing 2-10. Senior QB Daniel Raudabuagh has a lot of talent and is in the top half of MAC QBs, just a step below the LeFevour-Hiller-Sheehan QB Triple Crown. To rebuild this season, Miami must find 7 new defensive starters and consistency on offense. WRs Chris Givens and Jamal Rogers have talent and the QB to utilize it. The special teams must find a new punter and kicker, which is a concern for a team that might need more help than others in close games. Miami could be in store for another losing season as new HC Mike Haywood builds his team.
Conference Championship Game: WMU over Bowling Green
Corbitt Gutsy Guarantee: The MAC will upset three or more Major Conference teams this year. This is a bigger Guarantee then you think. CMU and WMU travels to Michigan State, Iowa State travels to Kent State, WMU battles U of M at Ann Arbor and Northern Illinois goes to Wisconsin. Last Year, Bowling Green beat Pittsburgh, WMU beat Illinois and the top upset was delivered when Toledo beat the Wolverines. This will be a big year of upsets for the MAC. With enough non conference wins, I can see 6 MAC teams going to bowl games.