The Mid-American Conference will remain basically unchanged from last season, despite the fact that many of the other Division IA mid-major football conferences have dramatically altered their make-up with additions and subtractions.
Editors Note: For 2013 conference preview, click here
The Temple Owls have decided to head back to their roots by joining the Big East, but in their place is the Massachusetts Minutemen, who decided to jump-up to D-IA from the D-IAA Colonial Athletic Association. Other than those two changes, the other 11 teams in the MAC remain the same.
The following is a look at the top contenders to win the both the MAC East and West Divisions this season and possibly meet in the conference title game at the end of the regular season. All odds courtesy of Sportsbook.
The Ohio Bobcats (+325) rolled through the MAC’s East Division last season with a 10-2 straight-up record overall and a 7-1 SU record in conference play. And they paid out as 5/1 underdogs on MAC future odds a year ago.
This was one of the better balanced teams in college football last season with an offense that averaged 30.5 points a game to go along with a defense that held opponents to an average of just 22.1 points.
Quarterback Tyler Tettleton returns as the Bobcats starter after throwing for 3,306 yards last season as a sophomore and should be even better this year. He also rushed for 627 yards and will compliment running back Ryan Boykin, who should emerge as the featured back this season.
The next team to watch in the East is the Kent State Golden Flashes, who are primed for a possible breakout season after going 4-1 down the stretch last season to finish 5-7 SU overall. They return 18 starters from last year’s roster including quarterback Spencer Keith and running back Trayion Durham.
The real strength of this team remains a defense returns a majority of its starters from a unit that held teams to an average just 326 yards of total offense and 24.3 points a game last season. However, Kent State still needs improve upon an offense that struggled to find the end zone last season if it wants to seriously contend for the conference title.
They would pay out a huge +1000 on the MAC future odds at Sportsbook, roughly a 10/1 profit.
The Northern Illinois Huskies should remain the team to beat in the West this season after an 11-3 SU campaign in 2011 that included a 7-1 SU record in conference play and a 23-20 victory over Ohio in the MAC Championship Game. They are +600 to win it all.
The offense will need to quickly reload with just six starters back from last season, but the defense returns a majority of its starters from last year’s squad. The Huskies will most likely go with Jordan Lynch as their replacement for former starting quarterback Chandler Harnish and running back Akeem Daniels returns to carry the load in the rushing attack.
The team most likely to push Northern Illinois for the West title could very well be the Western Michigan Broncos, who return 15 starters from a team that finished the season on a 3-1 run before losing to Purdue 37-32 in the Little Sportsbook Bowl. Leading the way will be quarterback Alex Carder, who threw for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2011 while completing an impressive 65.7 percent of his passes.
The Broncos will need to do a much better job on defense after giving-up an average of 28.7 points a game which was ranked 76th in the nation. They are +400 to start the season on the MAC odds menu.
Mid-American Championship Odds courtesy of Sportsbook:
Western Michigan +400
Northern Illinois +600
Bowling Green +800
Kent State +1000
Eastern Michigan +1600
Central Michigan +2000
Ball State +2300
MAC East Division Odds
Bowling Green +360
Kent State +400
MAC West Division odds
Western Michigan +180
Northern Illinois +260
Eastern Michigan +650
Central Michigan +775
Ball State +900