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Mid-American Conference Predictions and Preview for the 2015-16 NCAA College Football Season

Mid-American Conference Predictions and Preview for the 2015-16 NCAA College Football Season

The Mid-American Conference is an exciting bunch with the top teams capable of challenging each other for the championship. It gets even better this season with a couple of sleeper teams capable of swooping in and stealing the favorites’ thunder.

Can Northern Illinois defend its conference championship? Or will the likes of Bowling Green, Toledo or even Buffalo turn some heads in a surprising season? Read on as we take a look at each team in the MAC.

Get in the know-how of some of the best college football conferences. Check out the complete previews for the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences.

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2015 Mid-American Conference Season Preview

Bowling Green Falcons

2014 Record: 8-6 (5-3)

Projected Record: 9-4 (7-1)

[sc:NCAA240banner ]The Bowling Green Falcons are dead set on making a fifth-straight postseason appearance this year. The MAC runners-up fell to Northern Illinois for the conference championship, but won the inaugural Camellia Bowl game against South Alabama.

The Falcons’ passing attack was one of the best last season, ranking 41st in the FBS. Expect them to remain successful with wide receiver Roger Lewis returning after hauling in 1,093 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Toledo Rockets

2014 Record: 9-4 (7-1)

Projected Record: 8-5 (7-1)

The Toledo Rockets were a force in conference play last season, losing only to eventual MAC Champion Northern Illinois. The Rockets return with one of the conference’s best running backs in Kareem Hunt. The junior running back finished off a stellar 2014 season (1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns) by dominating the GoDaddy Bowl, burning Arkansas State to a tune of 271 yards and five touchdowns.

Expect Hunt to shoulder most of Toledo’s offense while head coach Matt Campbell figures out the team’s quarterback carousel with six signal callers on the depth chart.

Northern Illinois Huskies

2014 Record: 11-3 (7-1)

Projected Record: 9-4 (6-2)

The Northern Illinois Huskies have dominated the MAC in recent years, winning three of the past four conference championships. They’ve also made seven consecutive bowl appearances. The Huskies should be able to gain some steam behind double-threat quarterback Drew Hare, who passed for 2,475 yards with 20 touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 900 yards and eight scores last season.

Northern Illinois is the favorite to win the conference at +300.

Western Michigan Broncos

2014 Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Projected Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Western Michigan just keeps getting better and better. The Broncos are in good hands with coach P.J. Fleck handling the reins. He has a couple of devastating weapons at his disposal. Last year’s MAC Rookie and Offensive Player of the Year Jarvion Franklin solidifies the running game after compiling 1,714 all-purpose yards and 25 touchdowns last season. Meanwhile, quarterback Zach Terrell returns after passing for 3,443 yards and 26 touchdowns.

The Broncos do have a tough schedule, starting with a visit from Michigan State for their season opener.

Ball State Cardinals

2014 Record: 5-7 (4-4)

Projected Record: 6-6 (4-4)

Ball State may have had a losing record last season, but the team finished strong by winning four of its last six games. The Cardinals do have a huge hurdle to get over with the graduation of stellar running back Jahwan Edwards, who rushed for 4,558 yards and 51 scores in his collegiate career. They’ll turn to a running-back-by-committee in Teddy Williamson and Darian Green (who combined for 328 yards and a score last season), as well as rookie James Gilbert.

Their running back situation isn’t the only thing going against the Cardinals. Ball State faces three straight road games in September, which could have the team struggling to gain momentum early into the season.

Buffalo Bulls

2014 Record: 6-6 (4-4)

Projected Record: 6-6 (3-5)

The Buffalo Bulls have fielded five losing records in the past six seasons. The Bulls are done losing. They fired Jeff Quinn, who coached the team from 2010 to 2014, and grabbed a winning coach in Lance Leipold. The new head coach has instilled a winning tradition guiding Wisconsin-Whitewater to a 109-6 record in Division III competition. Leipold has won six Division III national championships while with his former team.

Leipold will have a pair of weapons at his disposal in Buffalo. Senior starting quarterback Joe Licata holds the school record for most career touchdowns (60), while All-MAC running back Anthone Taylor is fresh off a 1,403-rushing-yard season.

Can Leipold rub his winning aura off to the team? The Bulls are +4,500 to win the MAC.

Ohio Bobcats

2014 Record: 6-6 (4-4)

Projected Record: 7-5 (5-3)

Ohio returns with an emerging star in running back A.J. Ouellette, who had the second-highest rushing total for a freshman in school history. He rushed for 785 yards last season, including averaging 126 yards in his last three games. With a sketchy receiving corps, Ouellette should be expected to carry the load on offense.

The Bobcats are also quite solid on defense with speedy linebackers Jovon Johnson, Blair Brown and Quentin Poling, who led the team with five sacks last season. Expect Ohio to be aggressive on defense, forcing its opponents into committing mistakes.

Akron Zips

2014 Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Projected Record: 6-6 (5-3)

Sometimes a potential Heisman contender arrives and changes a team’s fortune. Other times, a coach arrives and slowly builds up his team’s level of competitiveness. Such is the case in Akron, when head coach Terry Bowden took up the mantle in 2012. Bowden’s first season was full of strife, going 1-11. But he’s enjoyed some success with 5-7 finishes in the past two seasons.

Bowden will be up to the task of choosing a starting quarterback between Kyle Pohl and Tra’Von Chapman. Pohl was somewhat decent last season, putting together a 2,000-yard campaign, but it’s Chapman who has the running ability to get opponents guessing.

Central Michigan Chippewas

2014 Record: 7-6 (5-3)

Projected Record: 4-8 (3-5)

John Bonamego steps in as Central Michigan’s new head coach after a mostly successful 2014 campaign. The Chippewas managed to win themselves a bowl berth only to fall short in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl 49-48 to the C-USA’s Western Kentucky. Junior quarterback Cooper Rush returns after throwing an FBS bowl-record of seven touchdown passes in the 49-48 loss. Rush will be without last year’s No. 1 target after wide receiver Titus Davis graduated.

As long as Rush gets the team on the board, the Chippewas should be just fine with a strong defense. A core of defensive starters returns to a squad, which finished first in the MAC in total defense allowing just 356 yards per game.

Kent State Golden Flashes

2014 Record: 2-9 (1-6)

Projected Record: 2-10 (2-6)

Kent State may not get the breakout they need this year. The Golden Flashes don’t have the running game to help them keep up with the rest of the nation, ranking 125th last season with just about 82 yards per contest. The outlook doesn’t seem to be good this year with Kent State playing two of its first three games on the road against Big Ten schools Minnesota and Illinois.

UMass Minutemen

2014 Record: 3-9 (3-5)

Projected Record: 6-6 (5-3)

The Minutemen have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Blake Frohnapfel. He threw for 3,345 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, and his 311 passing yards per game ranked 11th in the entire nation. Frohnapfel has his work cut out for him; he’ll need to score aplenty as UMass’ defense gave up 33 points per game last season.

Think Frohnapfel leads his team to a big season in the MAC? The Minutemen are +2,000 to win the conference.

Miami (OH) Redhawks

2014 Record: 2-10 (2-6)

Projected Record: 2-10 (1-7)

The Miami Redhawks’ offense is a mess. A potential starter at quarterback in Austin Gearing now plays on the other side of the ball as a defensive end, while last year’s signal caller Andrew Hendrix has exhausted his eligibility. Red-shirt freshman Gus Ragland is a duel-threat quarterback, but has yet to take the field. Meanwhile, Drew Kummer has thrown just 58 passes and rushed 31 times with the Redhawks.

Miami also doesn’t have an answer at running back even with both Spencer McInnis and Damon Washington returning after combining for just 261 yards last season. Unlike their offense, the Redhawks’ defense is quite strong. All four starters return to the defensive line led by Bryson Albright, who led the team with six sacks last season.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

2014 Record: 2-10 (1-7)

Projected Record: 2-10 (2-6)

One of the most disappointing teams last season, the Eastern Michigan Eagles won just two games as they scored 15.2 points per game (123rd in the nation). The Eagles have a promising quarterback to keep an eye on in Reginald Bell.

The sophomore quarterback was impressive when he won the starting role midway through last season. He put up over 346 total yards of offense with a passing touchdown and two rushing scores in a 37-27 upset victory over Buffalo. Bell then threw for 409 yards in a 45-30 loss to Ball State later into the season.

Writer’s Prediction

Bowling Green wins the MAC at +350. Create a betting account now and get in on some juicy college football futures lines.

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Written by Kevin

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