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2007 MAC Lookbacks/Recaps
Buffalo QB Drew Willy
Buffalo QB Drew Willy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 28, 2008


Taking a look back at the 2007 MAC season for every team.

2007 MAC Lookbacks/Recaps

- 2008 MAC Early Lookaheads
East  Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent St | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West  Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | N. Illinois | Toledo | West Mich

2007 Pages
2007 MAC Season | 2007 MAC Lookbacks & Recaps
East  Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent St | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | N. Illinois | Toledo | West Mich

East

Akron
Recap: Instability behind center and general futility on offense plagued Akron all season, making the program’s MAC title under J.D. Brookhart feel a lot longer than just two years ago.  When the Zips were competitive, it was usually attributable to an underrated defense that placed five players on the All-MAC squad, including freshman DE Almondo Sewell.  The program’s problems were accentuated on road trips, finishing a miserable 1-6 in games away from the Rubber Bowl.                  

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Jabari Arthur

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Brion Stokes

Biggest Surprise: The Zips lone road win came at the expense of Western Michigan in one of the wildest finishes of the season.  Trailing 38-33 with just a few ticks remaining on the clock, FS Andre Jones took a pitch from teammate Alphonso Owen, and returned a kickoff 89 yards for the game-winning score as time expired.      

Biggest Disappointment: Akron was never the same after blowing a big lead to Temple on Oct. 13, losing 24-20.  Cruising along with a 20-3 lead in the fourth quarter, the Zips permitted three Adam DiMichele touchdown passes, the final one a backbreaker with 27 seconds left on the clock.           

Looking Ahead: For Brookhart’s offense to succeed, he’s got to have a more reliable pitcher, which certainly wasn’t the case in 2007.  With the back seven about to undergo a major overhaul in 2008, and the schedule including games with Kentucky and Cincinnati, it could be another four-win campaign for the Zips.

Bowling Green
Recap: Well, you couldn’t tell it from the team’s final game, a record-setting 63-7 loss to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl, but Bowling Green turned a corner in 2007.  One year after winning just four games, the Falcons doubled that total, closing the regular season with four straight wins and finishing in a first place tie with Miami in the East Division.  Bowling Green was fueled all year by first-year starting QB Tyler Sheehan, who debuted with 26 total touchdowns and more than 3,400 yards of offense, and helped lead his team to an upset of Minnesota and a close call with Michigan State.                

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Tyler Sheehan

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Erique Dozier

Biggest Surprise: Anthony Turner.  The one-time quarterback did a little bit of everything for the Falcons in 2007, developing into a lethal weapon.  Turner led Bowling Green in rushing, threw three touchdown passes without a pick, caught 22 passes, and scored a team-high 10 touchdowns.        

Biggest Disappointment: Had the Falcons gotten a chance at Miami in November instead of October, they might have won the East Division.  When the teams met on Oct. 13, Bowling Green was still trying to find itself, and it showed in a lopsided 47-14 loss that gave the divisional tiebreaker to the RedHawks.    

Looking Ahead: With Sheehan, Turner, WR Freddie Barnes, and RB Willie Geter back in 2008, the Bowling Green has a chance to be even more prolific than last season.  The defense, too, returns most of its key parts, meaning the Falcons will again be a key player in the divisional race.

Buffalo
Recap: It didn’t take a bowl game or even a .500 record for the Bulls to emerge as the surprise program of 2007 in the MAC.  After winning no more than three games at any time this decade, Buffalo copped a school-record five league games, tying for the East Division lead, and dramatically shifting the culture around the program.  A perennial punching bag for the rest of the conference, the Bulls expected to win games last fall, a credit to the job being done by head coach Turner Gill in just two short years.              

Offensive Player of the Year: RB James Starks

Defensive Player of the Year: S Davonte Shannon

Biggest Surprise: Coming off a nasty loss to Ball State, the 1-4 Bulls permanently changed the direction of their season with a 31-10 spanking of Ohio on Oct. 6.  Showing a hint of what the program was about to become, Buffalo got 183 yards rushing and two scores from Starks, and an air tight effort from an improving defense.      

Biggest Disappointment: With a shot to earn a spot in the MAC Championship game, Buffalo lost back-to-back games in November to Miami and Bowling Green, the East Division front-runners.  The defense, which had been stout for weeks, took a step backwards, allowing 31 points and more than 400 yards in both games.          

Looking Ahead: Last season’s success in Buffalo may wind up being a stepping stone to a MAC title in 2008.  With a glut of starters back on both sides of the ball, and Gill locked up for the next few years, the Bulls are on the brink of something special in Upstate New York.

Kent State
Recap: The Golden Flashes peaked with a Week 1 upset of Iowa State, but it was all downhill from that point.  So much more was expected from a team that went 6-6 in 2006, but Kent State was too sloppy on offense and unpredictable in the red zone to mount comebacks late in close games.  After getting to 3-2 with a win over Ohio, the Flashes disappeared, losing seven straight games and becoming little more than a showcase for RB Eugene Jarvis, the school’s one signature player.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Eugene Jarvis

Defensive Player of the Year: NG Colin Ferrell

Biggest Surprise: It’s not often that the Golden Flashes beat a team from a BCS conference.  In fact, it hadn’t happened since 1987 until they stuffed Iowa State in the opener, getting a touchdown pass and touchdown run from QB Julian Edelman, and a solid performance from the defense.        

Biggest Disappointment: The Golden Flashes outplayed eventual East champ Miami on Oct. 6, but failed to cash in, losing 20-13 and scoring just six points over the final three quarters.  Kent State struggled in RedHawk territory, a familiar refrain all season, kicking off a dreadful stretch run that resulted in a seven-game losing streak.

Looking Ahead:
Kent State is better than last year’s record, but now it has to go out and prove it in 2008.  A good starting point would be to cut down on penalties and turnovers, both of which killed way too many drives in 2007.

Miami University
Recap: Although the RedHawks enjoyed a nice recovery by tripling their two-win total in 2006, they failed to complete the journey, losing badly to Central Michigan in the MAC title game and slipping under .500.  After nipping Ball State in the opener, Miami was a victim of streaky behavior, losing three straight, winning three straight, dropping two in-a-row, winning two-in-a-row, and finally, losing its last two games to finish 6-7.  The RedHawks never quite overcame season-ending injuries to their top two backs, Andre Bratton and Brandon Murphy, relying almost exclusively on one of the league’s stingiest defenses.      

Offensive Player of the Year: G Dave DiFranco

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Clayton Mullins

Biggest Surprise: In a game of evenly-matched programs, Miami destroyed Bowling Green, 47-14, to take control of the East Division.  The RedHawks played their most complete game of the season, outgaining the Falcons 499-232, and sacking Tyler Sheehan six times.      

Biggest Disappointment: The RedHawks went stride-for-stride with the Big Ten’s Minnesota in Week 2, but fell, 41-35, in three exhausting overtimes.  Miami rallied for 16 points in the final 6:35 of regulation to send the game into extra sessions, making the final outcome that much harder to digest.           

Looking Ahead: Provided Miami can shake off last year’s sluggish finish, it’ll be right back in the hunt for a league championship in 2008.  Only three of last year’s starters were seniors, and the linebacker trio of Mullins, Joey Hudson, and Caleb Bostic will be one of the best in the country among non-BCS schools.

Ohio
Recap: Although more was expected of the Bobcats than just mediocrity, a second straight non-losing season is evidence that Frank Solich’s blueprint for success is working.  While the offense reached new heights, scoring 30 points in eight games, the defense often gave away those gains, yielding 30 points and more than 400 yards a game.  What shouldn’t be lost in the Bobcats’ fourth place tie in the division is that they beat the East’s two best teams, Bowling Green and Miami, ringing up 38 points in each win.        

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Kalvin McRae

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Landon Cohen

Biggest Surprise: The offense reached a level of production and balance that hasn’t been seen in Athens in quite some time.  Finally approaching Solich’s vision for the attack, the Bobcats were rarely stopped in the second half, leaning heavily on McRae, but also getting surprising results from an improving passing game.      

Biggest Disappointment: Close losses to Wyoming and Toledo could have easily gone in the win column, propelling the Bobcats to a second straight bowl game.  In both cases, Ohio got sloppy at the end of the game, frittering away opportunities to take a couple of nail-biters.           

Looking Ahead: At this stage of the rebuilding process, Solich and the Bobcats can ill afford to go back backwards by slipping back below .500.  Although it’ll be a bear replacing McRae, the staff is excited about turning the offense over to Theo Scott, a multi-faceted quarterback who’ll be getting back most of his top pass-catchers.

West

Ball State
Recap: For the first time since 1996, Ball State finished a season above .500 and in a bowl game, riding the right arm of QB Nate Davis and the MAC’s most prolific passing attack to seven wins.  While the defense rarely held up against better competition, Davis was able to overcome, throwing 30 touchdown passes to just six interceptions with the help of all-league receivers Dante Love and Darius Hill.  Even in losing regular season games to Nebraska, Illinois, and Indiana, Ball State performed admirably, nearly stunning the Huskers in Lincoln on Sept. 21.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Nate Davis

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Bryant Haines

Biggest Surprise: DE Brandon Crawford.  A 31-year old former Marine, Crawford developed into one of the defensive leaders and the Cardinals’ most reliable pass rusher.  After playing sparingly in 2006, he set the standard in Muncie with 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks.     

Biggest Disappointment: The Cardinals were every bit as potent as the Huskers in September, but fell one point short in a lost opportunity to make a resounding national statement.  Ball State ripped the home team for more than 600 yards of offense, but could only claim a moral victory after missing the potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds.    

Looking Ahead: Led by Davis, the entire offense returns in 2008, a frightening thought for MAC defensive coordinators.  If the Cardinal defense makes even modest progress next fall, Ball State will be a season-long factor in the race with Central Michigan to win the West Division.

Central Michigan
Recap: Losing head coach Brian Kelly to Cincinnati never looked more unsettling than when the Chippewas started the season 1-3, including a 44-14 loss to North Dakota State.  Central Michigan rallied, however, behind the dual-threat heroics of QB Dan LeFevour to win eight games and a MAC championship for the second year in-a-row.  LeFevour was otherworldly throughout his sophomore season, joining Vince Young as the only players to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more in a single season, while offsetting a Chippewa D that ranked among the worst in the league.            

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Dan LeFevour

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Red Keith

Biggest Surprise: WR/KR Antonio Brown.  Central Michigan needed a complement to Bryan Anderson in the passing game, and Brown stepped up with a school-record 102 receptions, giving the Chips the MAC Freshman of the Year for the second straight season.       

Biggest Disappointment: The Chippewas road to a conference title took a detour on Nov. 16, a 48-45 loss to lowly Eastern Michigan.  As usual, Central Michigan had no problems scoring points, but was equally generous on defense, allowing Pierre Walker and Andy Schmitt to combine for 210 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.     

Looking Ahead: With Butch Jones now settled in as the head coach and LeFevour back for a third season, Central Michigan will be the heavy favorite to repeat in the MAC.  Although the defense loses just three starters, all three were on the postseason honor roll in 2007, a concern for an already overmatched unit.

Eastern Michigan
Recap: It was, to say the least, a strange year for Eastern Michigan, which beat in-state rivals Central Michigan and Western Michigan to win the Michigan MAC Trophy, yet won only two other times.  In all, the Eagles felt pretty good about their progress in 2007, improving by three games over the prior year and playing well even when they lost.  An opportunistic group, EMU was No. 2 in the league in turnover margin, and surprisingly sound in the trenches, paving the way for a monster finish from RB Pierre Walker.               

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Pierre Walker

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Daniel Holtzclaw

Biggest Surprise: Beating Western Michigan was a surprise, but handling Central Michigan, the eventual MAC champion, was a shocker.  Rallying from a 38-28 deficit in the fourth quarter, Eastern Michigan got huge days on the ground from Walker and QB Andy Schmitt to leave Mt. Pleasant with a season-ending 48-45 upset.       

Biggest Disappointment: A visit from Bowling Green on Nov. 9 was one that got away for Eastern Michigan.  The Eagles got off to a smoking start and ran the ball extremely well, but blew leads three different times, the last one on a Tyler Sheehan touchdown plunge late in the final quarter.     

Looking Ahead: Through improved recruiting, Jeff Genyk has Eastern Michigan gradually moving in a northerly direction.  Assuming the Eagles develop an adequate replacement for Walker and build on last year’s strides, a .500 record could be within reach in 2008.

Northern Illinois
Recap: The Huskies’ run of seven consecutive winning seasons ended with authority in 2007, as the program managed to win just two games in 12 tries.  While it was supposed to be a down year for the school, its decline was exacerbated by a spate of serious injuries that plagued both sides of the ball.  Head coach Joe Novak, the architect of Northern Illinois’ success this decade, won’t be on staff to turn things around, opting to retire from his post after a dozen up-and-down years in DeKalb.              

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Justin Anderson

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Larry English

Biggest Surprise: Anderson.  A backup to Montell Clanton at the beginning of the season, Anderson got his shot to shine out of necessity, rushing for 1,245 yards and eight touchdowns after Clanton went on the permanent shelf.  An All-MAC second-teamer, he went over 100 yards in eight of his first nine starts before getting hurt himself in the finale with Ball State.         

Biggest Disappointment: Just seven days after giving Iowa fits, the Huskies got dumped at home by Southern Illinois, 34-31.  Worse, Northern Illinois squandered a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, allowing a pair of touchdown passes in the final minute of the game.  It was the Huskies’ first loss to the Salukis since 1979.    

Looking Ahead: After beating the Huskies in September, Southern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill will join them, taking over for Novak in 2008.  A success in his seven seasons with the Salukis, he knows the landscape well, and inherits a team that can only improve once it gets healthy.

Temple
Recap: A laughingstock no more, Temple won four games in its first year in the MAC, or as many as the program had won in its previous four years combined.  Finally playing in a league that better matches their talent level, the Owls rebounded from an 0-5 start to go 4-3, including the school’s first three-game winning streak since 1990.  While the offense was hit-or-miss, the defense came a long way after September, leading the MAC in total defense and allowing an average of just 19 points over the final seven games.               

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Adam DiMichele

Defensive Player of the Year: S Dominique Harris 

Biggest Surprise: The defense.  While very young and not so big, the Owl D showed great range and quickness over the final two months of the season.  Names, such as Junior Galette, Andre Neblett, and Amara Kamara are unfamiliar to most, but they could be household names in MAC circles as early as next fall.      

Biggest Disappointment: Temple beat Connecticut on Sept. 15.  The refs, however, saw it differently.  Although WR Bruce Francis clearly tapped one foot in the end zone for the apparent winning score with 40 seconds left, the Big East replay official refused to reverse the call, denying the Owls a chance at picking off a Big East opponent.       

Looking Ahead: Look out, MAC.  Temple has some momentum and a young head coach that was pursued in December for the opening at UCLA.  Oh, and that team which showed so much progress in 2007 did so with just one scholarship senior on the entire roster.

Toledo
Recap: After a dozen straight winning seasons, the Rockets have begun to mess with their reputation as a MAC powerhouse with back-to-back 5-7 campaigns.  While the Toledo offense was among the most explosive in the country, averaging a league-high 448 yards a game, the defense was a disaster, allowing 39 points a game, while manufacturing just five sacks over the last nine games.  It all added up to lots of shootouts and offensive records for the program, but not enough consistency, particularly away from the Glass Bowl, to reach .500 when the opportunity presented itself in November.                

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Jalen Parmele

Defensive Player of the Year: S Barry Church

Biggest Surprise: It was obvious that the Rockets could move the ball, but even by their lofty standards, the 70-21 demolition of Northern Illinois was an epic offensive performance.  In the rout, Toledo amassed a school-record 812 yards of offense, almost equally distributed between the passing attack and the ground game.         

Biggest Disappointment: As inconsistent as Toledo was throughout the season, there was still a chance to sneak into the back door of the postseason as late as Nov. 13.  True to their road form, however, the Rockets fizzled in trips to Ball State and Bowling Green, dropping both games by an average score of 39-15.

Looking Ahead:
Parmele needs to be replaced, but DaJuane Collins showed enough in a complimentary role to feel good about the running game in 2008.  Of course, the Rockets have learned over the last two seasons that no matter how prolific the offense is, they’re an average team until the defense can make a stop every now and again.

Western Michigan
Recap: Although the talent level and expectations were high enough for the Broncos to be playing in December, the execution and consistency was not, resulting in a disappointing 5-7 season.  With a break here or a timely big play there, the final record could just have easily been 8-4 for Western Michigan, which lost three league games in a span of five weeks by a combined eight points.  The Broncos finished the regular season strong, especially on defense, lending hope that the good vibes will bleed into the offseason.          

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Brandon West

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Londen Fryar

Biggest Surprise: With the postseason officially out of reach, the Broncos turned a Nov. 17 trip to Iowa City into their own personal bowl game.  Western Michigan floored Iowa on Senior Day, 28-19, getting 367 yards and three touchdown passes from Tim Hiller, easily the quarterback’s most complete performance of the season.

Biggest Disappointment:
Although there were a few to choose from, losing on Oct. 6 to Akron on the final play was an outcome that sent Western Michigan into a month-long funk.  Seemingly on their way to a 3-3 record, the Broncos inexcusably permitted an 89-yard kick return for a touchdown with time running out, losing 39-38.              

Looking Ahead: Assuming the right side of the offensive line can be rebuilt, Western Michigan has enough returning veterans to erase the memory of last season’s underachievement.  It’s incumbent upon Hiller to build on last year’s solid finish, and make the offense more explosive.