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CFN 2011 MAC Preview
Temple RB Bernard Pierce
Temple RB Bernard Pierce
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2011


Preview, predictions, and breakdown of the upcoming MAC season.


Preview 2011

MAC Preview


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EAST
- 2011 Akron Preview | 2011 Bowling Green Preview
- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Kent State Preview
- 2011 Miami Univ. Preview | 2011 Ohio Preview
- 2011 Temple Preview

WEST
- 2011 Ball State Preview | 2011 Central Michigan Preview
- 2011 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2011 Northern Illinois Preview
- 2011 Toledo Preview | 2011 Western Michigan Preview
 
- 2011 MAC Preview | 2011 MAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 MAC Schedules & Picks
- 2011 CFN All-MAC West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 MAC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2011 MAC Thoughts
- 2011 MAC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2010 MAC Preview

By Pete Fiutak   

What would happen if Vanderbilt won the SEC title? Imagine the media coverage and the excitement surrounding the conference race.

What would happen if Washington State went from being miserable to winning the new Pac-12 championship? What if Indiana came from out of left field to win the Big Ten, or if Baylor rose up to take the Big 12, or if Duke had a dream season to pull off the ACC championship? Any one of those would be seen as a once in a conference lifetime event, but going from misery to champion, and often back to misery, is par for the course in the MAC.

And it's not even close, the MAC has been the wildest and most unpredictable conference over the last several seasons. Troy usually has a piece of the Sun Belt title, Boise State owned the WAC, TCU and Utah were the stars of the Mountain West, and the big leagues almost always fell into place as predicted, with an Auburn and Connecticut thrown in here and there. But last year, Miami went from going 3-21 in 2008 and 2009 to winning the 2010 MAC title going 10-4.  Buffalo was among the worst programs in America, and then it came from left field and won the 2008 MAC title. Akron shocked the MAC world by winning the championship in 2005, and Central Michigan stunned the league by winning the 2006 championship and going on a phenomenal run.

Temple has gone from miserable to terrific, Toledo has rallied back from a few awful years, and Northern Illinois went from going 2-10 in 2007 to a bowl game in 2008 on the way back up. It's possible to go from worst-to-first in a hurry in the MAC, and it has become the conference of hope. It's possible to become a player in a hurry, but this year, it should be about the established names.

Can Eastern Michigan go from awful to champion? Probably not, but Bowling Green should make a quick jump up and Buffalo has the potential to be far stronger. The stars, though, should be a resurgent Toledo, who has everything in place to be a major factor again with Tim Beckman's offense about to explode. Western Michigan has been knocking on the door for years, and now the talent and experience are there to be in the hunt for the championship. Northern Illinois isn't going to slip, and Central Michigan should rebound. And that's just the West.

Temple's success should keep on going under new head man Steve Addazio, Miami won't fall back much, if at all, even with the change, Ohio will be Ohio and will be in the hunt for the East title until the end, and Bowling Green and Kent State are going to be dangerous.

The MAC is always full of surprises, and the race in each division should come down to the wire. It'll be another fun ride.

Team That'll Surprise

Bowling Green - After going 2-10 last year, following a bowl appearance in 2009, the Falcons have all the makings to become a major factor again in the East race. At the very least, the offense should explode again with a high-octane passing attack ready to rev it back up again. Last year, BGSU lost four games by three points or fewer, and this year's team is good enough to win those tight ones, and maybe a few others, to be back in the bowl mix.

Team That'll Disappoint
Miami University - 51 lettermen are back, 18 starters return, and there's excellent depth and good talent across the board. Bu the schedule is rough. The RedHawks get an awful break facing two of the West's top teams - Toledo and Western Michigan - and have to go on the road to face the Rockets, Temple, Kent State, and Ohio. Throw in non-conference games against Missouri, Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Army, and coming up with a winning season might be tough.

Game of the Year

Northern Illinois at Toledo, Nov. 1 - Throw in the games the Broncos have to play against Western Michigan in the mix, too. This should be a three team race in the West, the better of the two divisions, and the Huskies' trip to Toledo should shape the conference title chase. The Rockets get the Broncos at home the week after before going on the road to face Central Michigan, so while beating NIU wouldn't be the be-all-end-all, it would be a very, very big deal.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight

1. DE Roosevelt Nix, Soph. Kent State
2. LB Brian Wagner, Jr. Akron
3. QB Alex Carder, Jr. Western Michigan
4. LB Dwayne Woods, Jr. Bowling Green
5. WR/KR Eric Page, Jr. Toledo

Coach on the Hot Seat

Ron English, Eastern Michigan - Akron's Rob Ianello will be in big, big trouble if he goes 1-11 again, but it's English who has to show a big improvement after going 2-22 in his first two seasons. EMU might be a rough program to turn around, but if Buffalo and Miami can do it in recent years, then EMU should at least be more competitive.

5 Non-Conference Games MAC opponents had better take very, very seriously

1. Western Michigan at Michigan, Sept. 3
2. Toledo at Ohio State, Sept. 10
3. Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois, Sept. 17 (Soldier Field, Chicago)
4. Miami University at Minnesota, Sept. 17
5. Ohio at Rutgers, Sept. 24

Bold Predictions …
The Akron quarterback situation will turn out to be a big deal. The Zips have talent now at the position. ... The Ball State run defense will make a huge improvement. ... The Buffalo up-tempo offense will finally be up-tempo. It might not be very good, but it'll have its moments. ... Matt Schilz-to-Kamar Jorden will be Tyler Sheehan-to-Freddie Barnes all over again. ... The Kent State receiving tandem of Tyshon Goode and Sam Kirkland will be the best in the conference, but won't have the stats to show it. ... Miami's Zac Dysert will be a legitimate pro prospect by the end of the year. ... Ohio's defense will make a huge improvement with linebacker Noah Keller back and healthy. ... Steve Addazio will win a conference title at Temple before Al Golden will win one at Miami. ... Central Michigan QB Ryan Radcliff will finish in the top ten nationally in total offense. ... Eastern Michigan corner Marlon Pollard will be an All-MAC performer after transferring over from UCLA. ... The NIU offense will stay dominant, but the defense will take a step back. The Huskies will finish third in the West. .. The Toledo offense will be among the best in the MAC, but it'll be the defense that wins the MAC title. ... Western Michigan will beat either Michigan or Illinois.

5 Best Pro Prospects

1. WR/KR Eric Page, Jr. Toledo
2. DE Roosevelt Nix, Soph. Kent State
3. DE Adrian Robinson, Sr. Temple
4. QB Zac Dysert, Jr. Miami
5. RB Bernard Pierce, Jr. Temple

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill

1. RB Jasmin Hopkins for Chad Spann, Northern Illinois
2. S Okoye Houston for Davonte Shannon, Buffalo
3. DT Shahid Paulhill for Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
4. LB Shamari Benton for Matt Berning, Central Michigan
5. LB Luke Batton for Cobrani Mixon, Kent State

EAST
- 2011 Akron Preview | 2011 Bowling Green Preview
- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Kent State Preview
- 2011 Miami Univ. Preview | 2011 Ohio Preview
- 2011 Temple Preview

WEST
- 2011 Ball State Preview | 2011 Central Michigan Preview
- 2011 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2011 Northern Illinois Preview
- 2011 Toledo Preview | 2011 Western Michigan Preview
 
- 2011 MAC Preview | 2011 MAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 MAC Schedules & Picks
- 2011 CFN All-MAC West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 MAC East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2011 MAC Thoughts
- 2011 MAC West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish | 2010 MAC Preview