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2021 MAC Football Preview

Updated: Sep 16, 2021


Predicted Order of Finish


East Division


1. Miami Ohio- the Redhawks were unable to build off a 2019 MAC champion due to a pandemic shortened season playing just 3 games, QB Brett Gabbert returns after missing 2 games due to injury in 2020 and will look to build off a stellar freshman season two years ago, Gabbert has plenty of quality experienced receivers to throw to with the addition of Penn St transfer Mac Hippenhammer, the defense has the chance to be dominant with 8 returning starters and a formidable front seven, slow starts have plagued Chuck Martin’s team since his arrival and the front end of the schedule is brutally tough


2. Ohio- 76 year old HC Frank Solich retired after 16 seasons, the legendary coach has took the Bobcats to 11 bowls and went12 consecutive seasons without a losing record, QB Kurtis Rourke, younger brother Nathan Rourke looks to win the starting spot, senior RB De’Montre Tuggle rushed for 134.3 yards per game in 2020 and should continue to flourish in Solich’s offense, O-Line should be solid, defense has holes to fill but historically ranks in the upper tier of the MAC, schedule features Miami Oh at home November 2th with a trip to Detroit likely at stake


3. Kent St- HC Sean Lewis has turned the offense into a juggernaut in just three seasons at the school, it ranked 1st nationally in scoring offense and in the top 10 in both passing and rushing, the unit returns almost everyone including senior QB Dustin Crum much to the dismay of MAC defensive coordinators, on the flip side the defense has been equally as bad finishing 113th in scoring defense and getting 70 hung on them by Buffalo, D-Line must improve to challenge for the East Division


4. Buffalo- tumultuous offseason for the Bulls with Lance Leipold’s late departure to Kansas, Maurice Linguist was hired in May and takes over with little time to implement his system, not an ideal situation for a first time head coach, the good news is the team returns a plethora of talent including senior QB Kyle Vantrease and All-MAC RB Kevin Marks, the defense which ranked 30th in scoring defense also returns 8 starters, a tough schedule will test Linguist in his coaching debut


5. Akron- HC Tom Arth returns for his third season, Arth had success at his previous stops but has posted a 1-17 record in his first 2 seasons with the Zips, QB Kato Nelson returns after missing last year due to shoulder surgery however needs to improve his accuracy completing on 53% of his passes in 2019, the defense finished 38th in passing yards allowed but that was due largely to opponents spending most of their time gashing them with the run


6. Bowling Green- the program has a history of winning, Urban Meyer, Dave Clawsen, and Dino Babers, however the program has fallen on hard times since its 2015 MAC title, HC Scot Loeffler looks to right the ship in his third season coaching the Falcons, no real strengths on either side of the ball heading into 2021 could spell another long season


West Division


1. Ball St- after facing much adversity early on HC Mike Neu finally saw his vision come to a reality in his 5 season guiding the Cardinals to a MAC Championship and an impressive bowl win over San Jose St, with the talent returning there is no reason why the good times can’t keep rolling, Senior QB Drew Plitt leads a veteran high powered unit that put up 34.2 point a game last year, the defense which showed drastic improvement in 2020 returns plenty of experience


2. Toledo- HC Jason Candle returns 22 starters from last year, last year’s QB Eli Peters however isn’t one of them after leaving the program, Carter Bradley who backed up Peters will battle a host of others for the job, whoever wins the job will be helped out by a solid O-Line and plenty of weapons, the defense possesses a handful of All-Conference performers and must come up big in the September 25th showdown at Ball St


3. Central Michigan- HC Jim McElwain was unable to settle on a QB last season and saw the passing offense drop from 48th in 2019 down to 86th, Freshman Daniel Richardson started four games in 2020 and will be in competition with Washington transfer Jacob Sirmon, the defensive line is strong with co-defensive player of the year in the MAC Troy Hairson II returning, the secondary returns everyone but must improve after getting torched through the air


4. Eastern Michigan - HC Chris Creighton has done an outstanding job taking a once doormat program to 3 bowls, despite taking step back in 2020 there is plenty to be excited about heading into the season, the QB position is strong with returning starter Preston Hutchinson who threw for 1,662 yards in 6 games, Ben Bryant a transfer from Cincinnati is a capable backup, the O-Line is strong returning all 5 starters, the defense got pushed around by opponents last year but has a tendency to be stingy under long time D coordinator Neal Neathery, it the defense can show some improvement the Eagles could be a dark horse in the West Division


5. Western Michigan- HC Tim Lester has had the Broncos knocking on the door his first four years but have yet to take the next step, rising star Kaleb Eleby returns for his second season as QB after throwing 18 touchdown passes in 6 games, the defense has struggled under Lester ranking 94th nationally in scoring it won’t be helped out by the departure of leading tackler Treshaun Hayward, extremely tough non-conference schedule should prepare the team for its MAC foes


6. Northern Illinois- the 0-6 record looks bad but the Huskies were competitive in every game with the exception of Central Michigan, the pressure is on third year head coach Thomas Hammock as the MAC’s most successful program the past decade and a half has taken a dip, the offense got a boost bringing in Michigan St transfer Rocky Lombardi to start at QB, defense is led by veteran linebackers Kyle Pugh and Lance Deveaux Jr, but young and inexperienced players fill the depth chart elsewhere


Buy- Eastern Michigan

Sell- Buffalo


Best Bet- Eastern Michigan OVER total wins


Coach of the Year- Chuck Martin Miami Ohio

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