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7/23 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The MAC
Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt
Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 23, 2009


7/23 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming MAC season. It's the Thursday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 23

5 Thoughts on the MAC.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
7/22
5 Thoughts on the Big East

7/21 5 Thoughts on the M-West
7/20 5 Thoughts on the SEC

7/16 5 Thoughts on the ACC
7/15 5 Thoughts on the WAC
7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt

7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the MAC.

A:
Just because Buffalo won the MAC title, that doesn't mean there isn't a massive disparity between the two divisions.

There are seven teams in the East, compared to six in the West, but the power brokers this year are all in the smaller division. Ball State, last year's MAC juggernaut, is about to take a major step back, but four of the other teams, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Toledo, will likely be better than anyone in the East. Okay, maybe Toledo still needs a little bit of work, but it would certainly be among the front-runners in the other division.

Eastern Michigan, with a high octane offense that ripped it up at the end of last year, will be a problem for the top teams in the West and should be better than most of the teams in East. That's how loaded the division is.

This year should see a weekly shootout and weekly battles, starting with the directional Michigan schools, while NIU appears to have reloaded under second-year head man, Jerry Kill. Meanwhile, the East should certainly be interesting with Akron and Bowling Green good enough to knock off Buffalo, but there isn't the star power that there is in the West and there aren't as many nasty teams. That means the chance should be there for one team, maybe Bowling Green, and maybe Buffalo again, to be a star.

Maybe the West teams will beat each other up enough to allow the East champion to come up with a surprise like last year. But the West will be more fun to watch week in and week out.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the MAC.

A:
The Central Michigan defense appears ready to contribute to the program’s overall success. Honest.

Hey, this is still a school that’s going to be fueled by the offense. Dan LeFevour is a superstar quarterback, with next-level aspirations, and the receiving corps is the deepest in the MAC. However, the defense is going to play a bigger role in the Chippewas’ quest for another league crown that they let slip away last November. Yup, the same defense that got shellacked for 56 points and 616 yards in last year’s regular season finale with Eastern Michigan.

The Central Michigan D is not going to look like it belongs in the Big Ten anytime soon, but it should be much improved from a year ago. Ten starters return, including a likely all-star at each level. DE Frank Zombo is one of the MAC’s top pass rushers. LB Nick Bellore is a tackling machine and a terrific run defender. Josh Gordy is an underrated cover corner. What does this all mean? The Chippewas will still yield plenty of yards, but there’ll be a few more stops on third down and a few more turnovers, which will get the ball in LeFevour’s hands faster. And when the senior is on the field, Central Michigan is always extremely dangerous.

The Chippewas are hungry for more than just regaining the league titles they won in 2006 and 2007. They’ve got a chance to make some national noise with early games at Arizona and Michigan State. If the program hopes to take its brand outside the confines of the conference, it’s going to need more help from a defense that has the parts to be more than just a swinging gate for opposing offenses.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the MAC.

A
: It’s hard to think that the West Division won’t produce the champion of the conference, and with Dan LeFevour back for one more go-round at Central Michigan, the Chippewas stand to be the reigning MAC Daddy when this season comes to a close. No Nate Davis—among many other players—means that Ball State won’t electrify the nation the way it did last season. Buffalo came out of the East Division to take the whole league in 2008, but the history-making, bowl-bearing Bulls nevertheless needed some timely bounces of the odd-shaped ball in order to walk off with the MAC trophy. Western Michigan is the team that can challenge Central for the top spot in the conference, but it’s hard to pick against Mr. LeFevour, a dynamic force throughout his career in Mount Pleasant. Central Michigan for the title in 2009.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the MAC.

A: It’s Dan LeFevour’s conference.  With Drew Willy and Nate Davis gone from the lower echelons of college football, there are no more proven stars to steal the spotlight from a guy that came within one rushing touchdown of breaking the 20-20 record the same year Tim Tebow did it.  The Chippewa passer is the premier playmaker in the MAC.

At least among quarterbacks.  The MAC is also home to some of the nations most underrated running backs.

There’s MiQuale Lewis at Ball State who was overshadowed by Nate Davis during the Cardinals’ near run to perfection.  All he did last year was run for 1736 yards and 22 TDs so it makes sense that you haven’t heard of him. 

Buffalo has their own version in James Starks.  Starks scored 16 times while adding over 1300 rushing yards and grabbing 52 receptions.  And you can’t leave out Eugene Jarvis up at Kent State.  He missed three games last season but still has 2470 yards and 19 TDs over the last two years.  And even Western Michigan (Brandon West) and Toledo (Morgan Williams) have 1000 yard backs returning for at least one more season.

So while LeFevour will likely end up as the flagship athlete for the Mid American Conference after spending a season in the shadows, the unknown running backs behind him can take comfort in the fact that people still wouldn’t know who they were regardless.

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the MAC.

A:
The MAC is loaded with fantastic quarterbacks who can step up and carry a team against anyone in America. Well, almost anyone, but the talent level in the league is through the roof when it comes to the game's most important position.

Nate Davis is gone from Ball State, Drew Willy is gone from Buffalo, and Julian Edelman needs to be replaced at Kent State, but Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, Western Michigan's Tim Hiller, Eastern Michigan's Andy Schmitt, Ohio's Boo Jackson, and Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan are all talented enough to be worth watching every week and will make the MAC more interesting than ever. They just scratch the surface when it comes to the league's QB talent, and even Jackson, who was the star of Ohio's 2008, doesn't have a sure-thing starting spot. Winning the non-conference games will be the key to getting more national exposure, and the upsets need to come from the quarterbacks. The MAC has them.