- 2008 MAC Early Lookaheads
2007 MAC Season
| 2007 MAC
Lookbacks & Recaps
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.