2013 Pre-Preseason MAC West Rankings
Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch
Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch
Posted Jan 21, 2013

The too early look at how good the MAC West teams should be in 2013.

CFN 2013 First Look Rankings

MAC West

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19

FINAL 2012 Rankings By Conference
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

- 2013 MAC East Rankings 

It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, where does everyone stand before Signing Day and spring ball? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2013 based on how good they appear to be at the moment. 

Northern Illinois (12-2)

No, it won't be another BCS season, but there's enough talent returning to expect yet another great year. The Huskies are used to rebuilding – they did it last year on the way to a second straight MAC championship – but now they have to go on with head coach Dave Doeren off to NC State. Rod Carey gets back a loaded offense that led the MAC in scoring and yards thanks to quarterback Jordan Lynch, who'll be a fringe Heisman candidate. All five starters return up front to pave the way for Lynch and running back Akeem Daniels. Depending on the formation, as many as ten starters return. The other side of the ball is a different story with just four starters back. Ends Sean Proger and Alan Baxter will be sorely missed, and the back seven could use some retooling. Top-tackling safety Jimmie Ward is back and the combination of Anthony Wells and Ken Bishop should be solid at tackle.

2. Toledo (9-4)

The Rockets rocked over the first nine games, struggled late and got blown away in the bowl loss to Utah State, but the pieces are in place to come up with a special 2013. The offense should be among the best in the conference with nine starters returning led by star running back David Fluellen and quarterback Terrance Owens. Center Zac Kerin quarterbacks a terrific line that gets four starters back, and the 1-2 receiving punch of Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell should be deadly. The O has to be great because the D might have a few problems with just three starters returning. Three starters are gone from a secondary that was miserable, allowing almost 300 yards per game. Defensive tackles Phil Lewis and Danny Farr are gone on the inside, and tackling machine Dan Molls will be sorely missed at middle linebacker.

3. Ball State (9-4)

While the results were there – going 9-4 with a bowl appearance, the defense was a disaster, especially against the pass. It'll all start with a front four that gets three starters back, but didn't get behind the line. The two starting linebackers have to be replaced, but all five starters in the secondary return. Quarterback Kelly Page is done, but Jahwan Edwards is one of the MAC's best running backs. The line needs rebuilding, but Willie Snead and the top receivers are back. The defense should be far, far better after a rough year helped by eight returning starters. The linebacking corps needs work after losing Travis Freeman and Tony Martin, but the front four is solid and the secondary will improve.

4. Western Michigan (4-8)

Can the Broncos quickly rebound from last year's disaster? It was all supposed to come together, but instead the team went a horrendous 4-8 and never seemed able to find its groove. Gone is quarterback Alex Carder, but Tyler Van Tubbergen stepped in and showed he could produce. The big problem in on the O line with four starters gone, but there's enough depth at the skill positions to hope for a bit of a rebound. The defense wasn't anything special, but it certainly wasn't bad. With nine starters back including leading tackler, Johnnie Simon, and the entire defensive back eight, there's a chance this could be a special group. The big negative is on the end, with Freddie Bishop and Deauntay Legrier gone after doing their part to get into the backfield on a regular basis.

5. Central Michigan (7-6)

The strong season under Dan Enos that finished with four straight wins and victories in five of the last six games should keep on rolling. Seven starters return on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Ryan Radcliff has to be replaced. Cody Kater and Alex Niznak are each promising enough to keep the passing game moving, but they'll need help from an offensive line that has to replace three starters from a group that was terrific in pass protection. Zurlon Tipton will handle the running game, but he'll need room to move. The defense wasn't anything special, and it has work to do in the secondary and at defensive end. On the plus side, the entire linebacking corps is back. The special teams were a problem and need a boost.

6. Eastern Michigan (2-10)

After a disastrously disappointing season, the Eagles have to replace several key starters and have to try to improve in certain areas by leaps and bounds with new starters. The run defense was the worst in the nation, and while three starters are back up front, the linebacking corps has to undergo an overhaul. Two starters are gone from a secondary that was fine, but nothing special. The offense that relied too much on the quarterback will once again hope for Tyler Benz to get things moving. Bronson Hill is a promising running back operating behind a line that has to replace the left side and loses center Corey Watman. All the top wideouts are back, but tight end and leading receiver Garrett Hoskins is gone.

- 2013 MAC East Rankings