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2008 MAC Lookbacks/Recaps
Buffalo RB James Starks
Buffalo RB James Starks
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 31, 2009


Taking a look back at every MAC team's 2008 season.


2008 MAC Lookbacks & Recaps

East  Akron | Bowling Green | Buffalo | Kent State | Miami Univ. | Ohio | Temple
West  Ball State | Central Mich | Eastern Mich | No Illinois | Toledo | West Mich
- 2008 CFN All-MAC Team |
2008 CFN Preseason All-MAC Team
- 2007 MAC Lookback/Recaps | 2008 MAC Lookaheads


 - 2009 MAC Early Lookaheads

Akron
CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 5-7

Recap
: The Zips started out well with wins over Syracuse and Army and a good battle in a 17-15 loss to Cincinnati on the way to a 5-4 start. With a bowl bid there for the taking, needing two wins in the final three games against a relatively light schedule, the defense went in the tank giving up 43 points in an overtime loss to Buffalo and 49 points in a shootout loss to Ohio before finishing up with a lifeless loss to Temple. There wasn’t one really strong win with the five victories coming against awful teams (Syracuse, Army, Kent State, Eastern Michigan and Toledo).

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Dennis Kennedy
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Kevin Grant

Biggest Surprise: RB Dennis Kennedy. After being all but out of the offensive mix with an injury-filled 156-yard junior season, Kennedy was unstoppable rushing for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns highlighted by a 277-yard, three touchdown day in the win over Eastern Michigan. He tore off six straight 100-yard games to close out the year.

Biggest Disappointment: The run defense wasn’t even close in crunch time. The D got worse over the second half of the season with its two worst performances coming in two of the biggest games, the November losses to Buffalo and Ohio. The run defense gave up four scores to the Bulls and four touchdowns in the season-ending loss to Temple. The pass defense wasn’t much better giving up five scoring passes against Ohio.

Looking Ahead: QB Chris Jacquemain will be the key piece the offense is revolved around. Kennedy is gone, but there are several good offensive prospects to work with, while the defense gets back most of the defensive front. There’s a lot of improvement needed to be done, but this will still be one of the dark-horse favorites to win the MAC with a little bit of luck.


Ball State

CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6  Final Record: 12-2

Recap
: It was the dream season. The offense was unstoppable and blowing everyone away, the defense was among the best in the MAC, and the special teams were tremendous. The Cardinals were 12-0 with what seemed like a coronation against Buffalo in the MAC title game. And then came the turnovers as the offense couldn’t stop giving the ball away, and Ball State came away empty as UB pulled off the upset. Making matters worse was a lifeless performance in the 45-13 loss to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl to end the year with a total clunker.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB MiQuale Lewis
Defensive Player of the Year: CB B.J. Hill

Biggest Surprise: MiQuale Lewis was that good. He was always productive, but he wasn’t able to stay healthy enough to show off what he could do for long stretches. He didn’t have any problems in 2008 as he always seemed to find the right openings for 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns with 100 yards or more in every game but three.

Biggest Disappointment: The MAC title game. The Tulsa loss wasn’t a shocker considering head coach Brady Hoke was busy becoming the new San Diego State head man, but the Buffalo defeat was a bitter, bitter pill that soured all the good things that had been done throughout the regular season. Four key fumbles and an interception were too much to overcome, even though the team cranked out 503 yards of offense.

Looking Ahead: It’s time to start from scratch. New head coach Stan Parrish isn’t walking into a disaster, but the offense won’t be anywhere near as effective as it was in 2008. This will be a defensive oriented team that relies on Lewis and the running game even more.

Bowling Green

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 6-6

Recap
: It wasn’t a bad year, going 6-6 with three wins in the final four games with the final four of the six losses were all be seven points or fewer. However, the solid season wasn’t enough to keep head coach Gregg Brandon around. The offense wasn’t as strong as expected, but the defense was terrific in wins over Pitt, Wyoming and Ohio. However, losses to Eastern Michigan, a woeful Miami University team, and a two overtime home loss to Buffalo, prevented a bowl season. The Falcons only played two bowl teams, NIU and UB, in the final nine games.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Tyler Sheehan
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Diyral Briggs

Biggest Surprise: The opening day win over Pitt. The tone was supposedly set for the season with a stunning late August win over a team that was the preseason favorite by many to win the Big East title. The Falcons came up big defensively, coming up with four takeaways, and came away with a 27-17 win. The joy didn’t last with five losses in the next seven games.

Biggest Disappointment: Losses to Eastern Michigan and Miami. The defeats to two of the MAC’s worst teams ended up proving costly for not just the bowl hopes, but for MAC title dreams. Those games showed just how inconsistent the team was throughout the year. With the relatively light schedule, the Falcons should’ve done even more.

Looking Ahead: New head coach Dave Clawson was awful running the Tennessee attack, and now he’ll have to try to get the MAC’s ninth-ranked offense going. Beating the teams the Falcons are supposed to will be job one, while still coming up with an upset or two will be the key to going from being a nice conference team to a true factor in the title hunt.

Buffalo

CFN Preseason Prediction: 3-9  Final Record: 8-6

Recap
: Everything came together in one magical season as the Bulls came up with almost every close win, every big play, and capitalized on every mistake on the way to a MAC title season. Out of the eight wins, one came on a last-second Hail Mary to beat Temple and three came in overtime, but there were three close losses, too, losing to Central Michigan, Akron (in overtime) and Kent State by a total of 11 points. A decided underdog in the MAC title game against Ball State, UB came up with five turnovers on the way to a stunning 42-24 win. The 38-20 International Bowl loss to Connecticut might have ended things on a down note, but that hardly took much away from the greatest year in Buffalo football history.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB James Starks
Defensive Player of the Year: SS Davonte Shannon

Biggest Surprise: Besides being the 2008 MAC Champion Buffalo Bulls? This was a veteran team that didn’t make many mistakes, came up with the wins it absolutely had to have, and played with more and more confidence as the season went on. There weren’t any shocking wins outside of the Ball State victory, but for a program that was among the worst in America ever since joining the D-I ranks, eight wins are eight wins.

Biggest Disappointment: The inability to close in the International Bowl. Everything went right in the first half with takeaway after takeaway, but the run defense went bye-bye as Donald Brown tore off 261 yards in the UConn win. While it wasn’t that big a deal on the overall landscape for a program fired up just to be playing extra football, it would’ve been nice to have been able to come up with a decent second half.

Looking Ahead: QB Drew Willy, the four-year starter and team leader, is gone, but just enough good players are back on offense to hope for a decent 2009. This isn’t going to be a MAC title team again, but there’s no reason to shoot for anything less than a bowl game. The defense that struggled so much against the run loses three starters up front, but the entire back seven returns.

Central Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6   Final Record: 8-5

Recap
: It wasn’t a bad year, the Chippewas were in the MAC title chase all season long and ended up going bowling, but by the program’s current high standards, it was a disappointing season after missing out on a chance to win a third straight title with a loss to Ball State in a fantastic mid-November game. That kicked off a rough finishing kick with a 56-52 loss to Eastern Michigan in a record-setting shootout, and then came the stunner, a 24-21 “home” bowl loss to Florida Atlantic in the Motor City. Of the five losses, four game by a touchdown or less, with Purdue coming up with a win in the final moments. On the flip side, five wins came by a touchdown or less on the way to an 8-2 start.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Dan LeFevour
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Nick Bellore

Biggest Surprise: The run defense led the MAC. Part of the reason was because everyone threw the ball on the MAC’s worst pass defense, but the defensive front really was strong against the run, allowing just 137 yards per game. Sophomore LB Nick Bellore had a fantastic year.

Biggest Disappointment: Not winning a third straight MAC title. While it wasn’t a total shocker considering the year Ball State had, but CMU and QB Dan LeFevour have made a living off of winning close games they had to have. To lose to Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic to close things out only added to the thud.

Looking Ahead: Three out of four? The Chippewas will be among the favorites to win the MAC title with Ball State needing to rebuild with a new head coach and Buffalo losing some key parts from its miracle team. As long as LeFevour is under center, and with his weapons to work with, anything less than championship will be a major disappointment.

Eastern Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 3-9

Recap
: The Eagles played better, but the final result still wasn’t anything special finishing 3-9. Head coach Jeff Genyk was canned, but not before he got the offense firing on all cylinders with QB Andy Schmitt and WR Tyler Jones putting on an unstoppable show at the end. Schmitt completed 58-of-80 passes for 516 yards and five touchdowns, with Jones catching 23 balls for 170 yards, in the season-ending win over Central Michigan after the two hooked up 17 times for 185 yards and two scores in the loss to Temple. Even so, there were only two wins over FBS teams and they were by a total of seven points. Only a 24-21 win over Bowling Green broke up the season bookended by the two other wins.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Andy Schmitt
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Daniel Holtzclaw

Biggest Surprise: The final two games. The passing game worked here and there throughout the season, and then it was all Schmitt against Temple and CMU as he completed 108-of-156 passes for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns with one interception. If the offense was bombs away throughout the year, Jeff Genyk might still be the head coach.

Biggest Disappointment: The lack of wins. This was a veteran team that had been building toward being a possible surprise team in 2008, but it was yet another disaster after a season-opening 52-0 win over a woeful Indiana State. The defense was among the worst in the nation while the special teams were a disaster.

Looking Ahead: New head coach Ron English comes in looking to make an instant impact, and while the pieces are there for a decent offense, the defense is job one after years of inconsistency. The team needs to be able to do one thing well on a week-in-and-week-out basis, and that’ll have to start with Schmitt on offense.

Kent State

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 4-8

Recap
: The Golden Flashes couldn’t get anything consistently going, but they closed out with three wins in the final five games including victories over Temple and Buffalo. It could’ve been a decent year, but they lost a two overtime game against Akron and a tight 26-19 game against Ohio in back-to-back weeks in early October to close out a string of four straight losses on the was to a 1-6 start. The running game was the best in the MAC, but the defense struggled and the special teams were abysmal.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Julian Edelman
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Derek Burrell

Biggest Surprise: The November wins over Temple and Buffalo. The Bulls didn’t have much to play for, they were already going into the MAC title game, but they were still trying and they still ended up as the conference champions. Kent State was able to come up with the shocking win to close out the season, while a 41-38 win over Temple was a nice help to make the season look a little bit better than it really was.

Biggest Disappointment: The inability to create any momentum. Three of the wins were followed up by a loss, with the last victory coming in the season finale. The three losses after the wins were in winnable games against UL Lafayette, Bowling Green, and at home against Northern Illinois.

Looking Ahead: Step one is getting Anthony Magazu into the starting quarterback role and adding more of a passing element to the mix. Of course the running game will still revolve around Eugene Jarvis, who’ll be working behind a good line with four starters returning. Head coach Doug Martin needs to start stringing together a few wins, and come up with a winning season, or there will be a regime change in 2010.

Miami University

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5   Final Record: 2-10

Recap
: Considering MU was supposed to be a top contender for the MAC title after getting to the championship game in 2007, 2008 was a major disaster. Possibly the nation’s most disappointing team, MU managed to win just one game over a FBS team, a 27-20 victory over Bowling Green, and was horrendous against just about everyone else with only one of the losses coming by less than double-digits. The scoring offense was the worst in the MAC and the defense, especially against the run, was a nightmare.

Offensive Player of the Year:
PK Nate Parseghian
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Joey Hudson

Biggest Surprise: That the team was so bad. The special teams were among the best in the MAC, but that wasn’t a shock considering P Jake Richardson and PK Nate Parseghian came into the year among the nation’s best, but nothing else worked. The defense was a nightmare, the offense couldn’t score, and the team simply wasn’t competitive.

Biggest Disappointment: The run defense. Considering the linebacking corps was supposed to be among the best in America, with big-time producers like Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins to work around, there’s no real excuse for the run defense to give up 208 yards per game. The defensive line didn’t do anything, but MU should’ve been far, far better.

Looking Ahead: New head coach Mike Haywood inherits a veteran team, but can anyone play? The RedHawks have ten miles to go before they can even think about playing for a MAC title, but with the right attitude adjustment, and better play from the lines, a turnaround and a winning season might not take all that long.

Northern Illinois

CFN Preseason Prediction: 4-8  Final Record: 6-7

Recap
: The first year of the Jerry Kill era was a major plus, even with the losing final record, as the 2007 disastrous season became a turnaround year with a 5-3 start leading the way to a bowl game. However, the Huskies died down the stretch losing four of the last five games including a 17-10 Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. While that was a good battle in what amounted to a road game, getting blanked by Navy 16-0 at home in the regular season finale was a major dud. The defense was the best in the MAC and the offense became more physical, setting the tone for what’s expected to be a good 2009.

Offensive Player of the Year:
C Eddie Adamski
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Larry English

Biggest Surprise: The defense. Everyone knew Larry English was good, he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, even though his overall stats weren’t that great, but it was the rest of the defense that stepped up and became No. 1 in the MAC in both yards and scoring allowed. The pass rush was solid, but it was the secondary and the pass defense that was truly strong.

Biggest Disappointment: Performances against anyone with a pulse. Yeah, winning six games was nice on paper, but the best win was against … Bowling Green? The other five wins came against Indiana State, Eastern Michigan, Miami University, Toledo, and Kent State; none of them won more than four games. The Huskies were 0-6 against bowl bound teams.

Looking Ahead: NIU took a nice step forward, and now the pressure will be on to win the MAC. It might be asking a lot considering there are still issues with the passing game and the program has to prove it can win a really big game again, but the pieces are there to make a nice run if Kill can keep everyone improving.

Ohio

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 4-8

Recap
: The Bobcats were the hard-luck team of the MAC season, playing far better than the 4-8 record might indicate. The season started with a four-game losing streak, but three of the losses were close and the fourth was a 26-14 loss at Ohio State in a game that was in doubt until late. However, there weren’t any wins of note, with the best victory coming over Akron late in the year. Winning the final two games of the year showed how the team didn’t quit, and now the hope is for experience to turn into production going into 2009.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Boo Jackson
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Noah Keller

Biggest Surprise: The defense as a bit of a rock. The D was supposed to be decent, but considering the offense didn’t provide much in the way of support, and turned the ball over way too often, the defense came through well. The secondary had the talent to be among the best in the MAC, and it played like it at times while the run defense wasn’t awful, at least compared to the rest of the league.

Biggest Disappointment: The lack of wins. The offense moved the ball well here and there, Boo Jackson turned in a decent year at quarterback, the defense was solid, and the return game was among the best in the MAC. The team simply didn’t know how to win. The turnover margin was the biggest issue, the mistakes seemed to come at the worst times, but an inability to come through in the clutch was also a huge problem.

Looking Ahead: Frank Solich can coach and he has put together some decent teams in the past, and he has to come up with a winning season to make sure he’s still around for 2010. Enough talent returns on both sides of the ball to demand nothing less than a six-win season, while hoping to be a dark-horse in the MAC race.

Temple

CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 5-7

Recap
: While winning five games at Temple is nothing to sneeze at, it was a disappointing year considering what might have been. The Owls were hoping to be Buffalo, the Cinderella story that went from rags to MAC champions, but they lost to the Bulls on a Hail Mary, lost to Connecticut in overtime, lost to Navy in overtime, and lost to Kent State and Western Michigan by a total of seven points, There was only one game the Owls weren’t in, a 45-3 loss to Penn State, and came achingly close to finishing with a winning record. Now the stage is set to be an even bigger player in the MAC title race.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Adam DiMichele
Defensive Player of the Year: DT Terrance Knighton

Biggest Surprise: The return game. While not a major weakness in 2007, it was hardly anything special. Enter Travis Shelton, who led the nation in kickoff return average with 31.3 yards per try, while Delano Green was 27th in the country, and third in the MAC, in punt returns, averaging close to 11 yards per return. For a team that struggled so much offensively, the return game turned out to be a really big deal.

Biggest Disappointment: The inability to come up with a big win. Beating Akron in the season finale was nice, but the other four wins came against Army, Miami University, Ohio and Eastern Michigan. The Owls came really, really close to winning several other games, but the veteran team couldn’t pull out close battles against Buffalo, Connecticut, Navy, Kent State and Western Michigan.

Looking Ahead: Head coach Al Golden has recruited extremely well over the last few years, and his team has the talent and experience to win a few more games to potentially go bowling. More is needed from the offense, and the defense wasn’t quite the rock it needs to be, and it was yet another losing season for a program hoping for big things. Golden is a hot coaching prospect and might not be around too much longer, so 2009 might need to be the big breakthrough season long-suffering Owl fans have been waiting for.

Toledo

CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5  Final Record: 3-9

Recap
: A total disaster, Toledo would’ve been the MAC’s most disappointing team had Miami not gone in the tank. The Rocket defense was non-existent, but the offense was hit or miss and didn’t do nearly enough keep up with the better teams. There was the stunning win over Michigan, but the team rode the momentum of that mid-season victory to … lose 38-7 to Northern Illinois. The nightmare of a season had a nice moment late, beating Bowling Green 42-14, but that was followed up by a home blowout to Bowling Green to close things out.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WRs Nick Moore and Stephen Williams
Defensive Player of the Year: SS Barry Church

Biggest Surprise: The offensive line had a strong season. The offense might have been inconsistent, but the line was decent in pass protection and had some strong moments for the running game. This was a young, inexperienced group that had to rely on two freshmen tackles, and it came through when nothing else did.

Biggest Disappointment: What wasn’t? The defensive line was abysmal, arguably the worst in America, the offense didn’t crank out enough points, and there were way too many games when the team wasn’t competitive. The Rockets weren’t always great over the years, but they were almost always able to put numbers on the board. That didn’t happen in 2008.

Looking Ahead: New head coach Tim Beckman’s first job will be get the defense going. The experience will be there with so many veterans returning, and now the experience will have to turn into production. The offense will have to find something it can count on from the start and it needs to find ways to get the ball into places where the stars, WR Stephen Williams, and RB DaJuane Collins, can do something with it.

Western Michigan

CFN Preseason Prediction: 8-4  Final Record: 9-4

Recap
: Considering the experience returning and the hope for a big season on both sides of the ball, a 9-4 season was expected. However, the year ended with a major downer after getting blasted by Ball State 45-22 and losing the Texas Bowl to Rice 38-14. The other two losses were to Nebraska in the opener and to Central Michigan in mid-October. There was an overtime win over eventual MAC champion, Buffalo, and a nice victory over Illinois in Detroit, but when push came to shove in conference play, the Broncos were shoved. Even so, 9-4 is 9-4. If the season had ended better, it would’ve been considered a better year.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WR Jamarko Simmons
Defensive Player of the Year: FS Louis Delmas

Biggest Surprise: The offensive line was outstanding in pass protection. Of all the areas of on the veteran Bronco team that was supposed to be average, it was the O line that was so mediocre for the ground game. However, it only allowed 15 sacks on the season and was consistently able to keep QB Tim Hiller clean.

Biggest Disappointment: The inability to beat Central Michigan or Ball State. Even with Buffalo winning the MAC, it could be argued that WMU was the league’s third best team. But the ten-point loss to the Chippewas and the blowout against Ball State ruined any dreams of playing for the MAC title. The performance in the Texas Bowl was a big-time clunker against a Rice team WMU should’ve been able to beat.

Looking Ahead: This won’t be the team the 2008 team was, but there’s enough returning experience to expect another bowl game and another strong overall record. Is there enough in the bag to finally get over the hump and get to the MAC title game? Maybe, but the defense has to play better and the offense has to be able to keep up in shootouts against the league’s big boys.