2007 CFN MAC Preview

Posted Jul 17, 2007

The MAC has been turned upside down over the last few seasons, and now, with several young stars to follow for the next few years, like Ball State QB Nate Davis, the league should be better. Check out the predictions, All-MAC team, unit rankings and more in the 2007 CFN MAC preview.

2007 CFN MAC Preview

Team Previews
Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent State
Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple

West Ball State | Central Michigan | Eastern Michigan
Northern Illinois | Toledo | Western Michigan

- CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players
- MAC Team-by-Team Capsules

MAC Unit Rankings

- MAC Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

Oh that wild, wacky MAC.

Just when you think you have it figured out, and know who the yearly mainstays are, the entire league gets thrown for a loop.

This year will be the return to normalcy.

Miami University and Toledo were always regulars in the championship race until the end, but they each struggled last season with young players and major inconsistency on offense. This year, the RedHawks should be night-and-day better with a healthy offensive line to let the good skill players operate, while the Rockets, if they can quickly get past the Scooter McDougle gambling allegations, will be strong enough to take back their rightful place as the power of the East.

Of course, Central Michigan and Ohio will have other ideas.

The Chippewas were terrific under Brian Kelly last year winning the MAC title, but he’s gone to Cincinnati, and Butch Jones is in to take over the MAC’s most talented team. Ohio was as one-dimensional as they came last season, running the ball, running the ball, running the ball, and then getting timely defense on the way to winning the East. These two will be in the hunt again, but there’ll be plenty of competition, and it won’t just come from a resurgent Miami and Toledo.

Get ready for some fun and exciting offenses with as many entertaining playmakers as the league has had in years. Western Michigan’s passing game should roll with Tim Hiller able to step in to take over at quarterback after missing last year hurt (if Thomas Peregrin doesn’t win the job). Ball State has the league’s best passer in Nate Davis. Kent State has Julian Edelman, a dynamic all-around quarterback who can win games by himself, and Bowling Green has gone from being a passing team under Omar Jacobs to more of a running attack with Anthony Turner leading the way.

There are still going to be the serious bottom feeders, and another was added with Temple joining the East, but they’ll all be far better than past seasons. Eastern Michigan was as competitive as any team win one win could be, and now, with the exception of WR Eric Deslauriers, it returns most of the key parts. Buffalo is about a year away from being able to reel off consistent wins under Turner Gill, while Temple has the look of an emerging MAC power (yes, Temple) in a few years, with the building blocks being put in place with two great recruiting classes under head coach Al Golden.

Adding to the interesting mix will be Akron and Northern Illinois, the two combatants in the 2005 MAC title, who each might be taking a bit of a step back this year. These are still two good, sound programs that’ll be in the hunt for their respective division titles, even if they’re not the favorites.

It’ll be another thrilling MAC season with several teams in the race up until late November. Will the old guard be able to take back control of the league from the new stars? It’ll make for an interesting year.

Team That'll Surprise
Miami University. If you can call Miami University a surprise after years of being one of the MAC favorites. The problems with last year’s offensive line are over with, while the quarterback situation should be strong with Mike Kokal ready to break out. After an awful 2-10 season, the RedHawks might be good enough to bounce all the way back to win the title.

Team That'll Disappoint
Northern Illinois. Everyone always has NIU among the league favorites, and Joe Novak has once again put together a good squad, the schedule might be too tough to have much of a shot to win the West. In the far tougher of the two divisions, the Huskies have to go on the road to face Central Michigan and Toledo, which might end up meaning a third place finish.

Offensive Player of the Year
QB Dan LeFevour, Soph. Central Michigan. He stepped in early last season and lived up to the buzz. While not a spectacular runner, he’s effective in the spread offense able to crank out yards when the opportunity is there. Now he’s no longer a freshman, he’s a veteran with a MAC title under his belt. He should be even better now that he knows what he’s doing.

Defensive Player of the Year
DE Larry English, Jr. Northern Illinois. One of the league’s top pass rushers became one of the best all-around defenders. A blur off the edge, he came up with 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss with four forced fumbles and 51 tackles. He’ll be the leader of a good NIU defense, and he should be the league’s most consistently dangerous playmakers.

5 Big-Time Players Who Need a Bigger Spotlight ...
LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Jr. Eastern Michigan
DB Jack Williams, Sr. Kent State
DE Steven Friend, Sr. Central Michigan
LB Joey Hudson, Jr. Miami University
OG Kory Lichtensteiger, Sr. Bowling Green   

Coach on the Hot Seat
Jeff Genyk, Eastern Michigan – 9-25 in four years hardly inspires confidence, especially coming off a one-win season, but the Eagles have gotten more competitive; they just can’t win the close games. Now the victories have to come, especially with in-state rivals, Central Michigan and Western Michigan, getting so much better.. 

5 Non-Conference Games the MAC opponents had better take, very, very seriously
1. Miami University at Minnesota, Sept. 8
2. Purdue at Toledo, Sept. 1
3. Northern Illinois vs. Iowa, Sept. 1
4. Ball State at Nebraska, Sept. 22
5. Ohio at Virginia Tech, Sept. 15

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. OT John Greco, Sr. Toledo
2. P Chris Miller, Sr. Ball State
3. TE Chris Hopkins, Sr. Toledo
4. DE Larry English, Jr. Northern Illinois
5. CB Londen Fryar, Sr. Western Michigan

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Montell Clanton
for Garrett Wolfe, RB Northern Illinois
2. Cornelius Robinson for Ameer Ismail, LB Western Michigan
3. Carlton Jackson, Chris Jaquemain and Sean Hakes for Luke Getsy, QB Akron
4. Dustin Woods for Ryne Robinson, WR Miami University
5. Sean Murnane for Dan Bazuin, DE Central Michigan

5 Bold Predictions
1. Central Michigan won’t skip a beat. At least not much of one. Butch Jones will have the team with a chip on its shoulder, and it’ll play up to its talent level all season long. Outside of a road game at Western Michigan, there’s no reason the Chippewas shouldn’t roll through their MAC schedule.
2. Miami and Toledo will bounce back, and could end up playing each other for the title. The Rockets will likely get off to a rocky start before going on a major roll over the second half of the year, while the RedHawks will win the East thanks to an improved offensive line.
3. Kent State will have the MAC’s best defense, and the offense will be better than it was in 2006, but it’ll have a worse record. The road games are all interesting and will be tough to get by, and that includes the date at Temple late in the year once the Owls are jelled.
4. Temple and Buffalo will be far better, but it still won’t matter. Both programs will make big jumps in 2008, especially Temple, but they’ll still have to pull off some major upsets to get a few wins. Each will be desperate to win the September 8th showdown between the two in Philly.
5. Western Michigan will give it a run, but will fall just short again. It’ll pull off the win over Central Michigan, but a loss at Toledo, and a shootout defeat to Ball State, will ruin title dreams for a second straight year.

What Will Happen
- Central Michigan will lose at Western Michigan to make things interesting, but will win the rest of its MAC games to get to the title game for a second straight season.
- The West will be decided on September 8th when Toledo faces Central Michigan. The winner will win the division. The Rockets will be tremendous in MAC play, but the early loss to the Chippewas will prove too costly. However …
- Ball State will end Toledo’s dream of a MAC title late in the year by bombing away. The Cardinals aren’t going to be consistent, but they’ll open it up at least twice on the way to big wins.
- Miami will win the East, but it’ll lose just about everything else. The schedule will make for a rough year, but MU will pull off just enough big wins in conference play to get in the title game where it’ll lose to CMU.
- Ohio will have its East title hopes in its own hands, and then it’ll fall short late in the year as a lack of a consistent passing game will prove to be too costly.


Related Stories
2007 CFN MAC Team Capsules
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 CFN Preseason All-MAC Team
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 MAC Schedules & Picks
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007