2008 CFN MAC Preview

Posted Aug 7, 2008

The MAC might be the best it's ever been with loaded team after loaded team. With so many great QBs, like CMU's Dan LeFevour, Ball State's Nate Davis, WMU's Tim Hiller and BGSU's Tyler Sheehan, the offenses should be great. Check out the predictions, All-MAC team, unit rankings and more in the 2008 CFN MAC preview.

2008 CFN MAC Preview

Team Previews & Predictions
Akron | Bo. Green | Buffalo | Kent St | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | No Illinois | Toledo | Western Mich

- CFN All-MAC Team & Top 30 Players

- MAC Team-by-Team Capsules

MAC Unit Rankings

- MAC Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak   

This is a bad, bad year to be a rebuilding team in the MAC. There will always be programs that return a ton of experience, but is it possible to have a year when every team comes back loaded with veterans and every team thinks it has an honest shot to win the conference title? In this year’s MAC, yes.

Northern Illinois has a lot of work to do after a two-win season, but new head coach Jerry Kill gets 11 starters back on defense. Western Michigan also gets everyone back on D. Ball State gets all 11 starters back on offense. Nine starters are back on Miami’s great defense. Temple had just one senior on the two-deep depth chart at the end of last year. It goes on and on like that for every team, and every program can go into the season believing it can win the championship meaning this could be the most wild and unpredictable MAC season ever.

Along with all the returning experience, one of the biggest keys to the league’s resurgence are the coaches. For the first time in a long time, the conference didn’t lose any of its hot coaches to a bigger, better program. Enjoy it while it lasts as Central Michigan’s Butch Jones, Buffalo’s Turner Gill and Temple’s Al Golden are destined to be gone in the next year or two, but for now, the coaching is better than it’s ever been from top to bottom. 

Yeah, die-hard MAC fans are going to love the league this season, but it’s going to take several big upsets to get on the map again and earn more national respect. No, Central Michigan might not beat Georgia and Toledo might not beat Michigan, but the MAC had better throw a huge scare or two into the big boys and there needs to be a not-that-shocking win like Ball State over Indiana or Miami over Cincinnati. The teams are in place to do it, but even if there aren’t the big non-conference wins, this is the year pay attention to the league.

Team That'll Surprise

Eastern Michigan - There were several signs of life throughout the season with the offense showing late in the year it could keep up in a few shootouts. QB Andy Schmitt is a good veteran who knows the offense and should come up with more big plays, while the defense has the potential to be the best in the Jeff Genyk era with almost everyone returning, including LB Daniel Holtzclaw. P Zach Johnson is back after leading the nation's sixth best punting game.

Team That'll Disappoint
Bowling Green - All the skill players are back, but the line, which wasn't exactly a strength to begin with, loses three starters including all-star C Kory Lichtensteiger. The run defense stunk, and now it loses top tackle Sean O'Drobinak. Before October hits, the Falcons have to go on the road to face Pitt, Wyoming and Boise State and host a resurgent Minnesota.

MAC Game of the Year
Ball State at Central Michigan, Nov. 19 – Toledo and Western Michigan will have something to say about the West race, but the late November battle between the Cardinals and Chippewas should decide the division title, and it could possibly be the MAC championship. If nothing else, the quarterback battle between BSU’s Nate Davis and CMU’s Dan LeFevour will be one of the best of 2008.

One Bold Prediction
Temple will turn the corner and will be special ... next year. The offense might have been the worst in the MAC, but ten starters return and all the young players who took their lumps over the last few years should be ready to shine. And then there’s the other side of the ball. 11 starters return along with a ton of backup experience to one of the MAC's top defenses. However, the team is still a year away when everyone comes back.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. LB Daniel Holtzclaw, Sr. Eastern Michigan
2. LB Caleb Bostic, Jr. Miami Univ.
3. RB Justin Anderson, Jr. Northern Illinois
4. FS Louis Delmas, Sr. Western Michigan
5. NT Andre Neblett, Jr. Temple

Coach on the Hot Seat
Tom Amstutz, Toledo – While there’s no threat of being fired, he needs a bounceback season after two straight losing seasons. Toledo used to be the MAC’s steadiest powerhouse and 5-7 doesn’t cut it. The offense should be explosive again, and the defense has the talent to be far better.

5 Non-Conference Games MAC opponents had better take very, very seriously
1. Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6
2. Central Michigan at Purdue, Sept. 20
3. Miami Univ. at Michigan, Sept. 6
4. Toledo at Michigan, Oct. 11
5. Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. SS Barry Church, Jr. Toledo
2. QB Nate Davis, Jr. Ball State
3. QB Dan LeFevour, Jr. Central Michigan
4. TE Darius Hill, Sr. Ball State
5. CB Londen Fryar, Sr. Western Michigan

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. OT
Mike VanDerMeulen for John Greco, Toledo
2. RB
DaJuan Collins for Jalen Parmele, Toledo
3. RB
Chris Garrett for Kalvin McRae, Ohio
4. DT
Brandon Slater for James Jones, Eastern Michigan
5. C
Ben Bojicic for Kory Lichtensteiger, Bowling Green

Team Previews & Predictions
Akron | Bo. Green | Buffalo | Kent St | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | No Illinois | Toledo | Western Mich