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Conference Preview: The MAC

crystalballIn an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.

OTP Conference Preview: The MAC

mac logo
Oh, MAC. How we love you. Hell, that’s why we saved you till last. We feel like of all the conferences in the country, you’re sort of the red headed step child relegated to the kiddie table of the football Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, you’re 33, thrice divorced, and maybe have a bit of a meth problem nowadays. It’s ok. We don’t judge.

A few years ago, the MAC was the sexy conference not at the BCS table. There have been major athletes come through this place like Ben Roethlisberger, Randy Moss, Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington, Michael Turner, and a whole host of others. Thanks to Marshall and Miami, we were legendary, dammit, and basically set the stage for conferences nowadays to have a little bit larger voice. Recently, the MAC has had a bit of a downstreak, not by chance coinciding with CUSA taking Marshall and UCF. But the MAC seems to have its bases covered with the addition of Temple and Buffalo, ensuring some stability at least for the fairly foreseeable future. But it is time the MAC make that jump to respectability like the Mountain West or the WAC.

Doing their best to help that cause last season was our Ball State Cardinals, who got votes in polls, climbed to the low teens, got whispers of a potential BCS berth, and basically brought the MAC some well deserved and much needed attention. Granted, last season didn’t end up so well, but still… it was nice to have the MAC be on the forefront. This season that burdern falls squarely on the shoulders of Central Michigan, who are being looked at as a team that could very easily have a similar Cinderella season.

2009 in the MAC looks to be quite the exercise in fun and excitement if nothing else. The East is wide open and could be anyone’s race, and the West is loaded with talent and teams gunning for CMU. It’s going to be a good year for the MAC, its athletes, and its fans… national attitude, attention, and bias be damned.

Last 5 Conference Champions
2008: Buffalo
2007: Central Michigan
2006: Central Michigan
2005: Akron
2004: Toledo

Bowl Tie Ins
The Mid-American Conference has three regular bowl tie-ins, with a contingency to fill a spot in a fourth game. The champions of the two MAC divisions are guaranteed to go to one of the three bowl games.
#1– The Motor City Bowl receives the first choice of MAC teams, though it is not required to take the MAC champion.
#2– The GMAC Bowl receives the second choice of MAC teams.
#3– The International Bowl receives the third choice of MAC teams.
#4– The EagleBank Bowl normally has the ninth choice from the ACC, however in years where there are not nine eligible ACC teams, they may select a MAC team.

Alan’s MAC Predictions
Order of Finish:
East
Bowling Green 8-4 (6-2)
Miami 6-6 (6-2)
Temple 7-5 (5-3)
Buffalo 5-7 (3-5)
Akron 5-7 (3-5)
Ohio 3-9 (2-6)

West
Central Michigan 9-3 (7-1)
Western Michigan 8-4 (6-2)
Ball State 9-3 (6-2)
Toledo 5-7 (4-4)
Northern Illinois 3-9 (2-6)
Eastern Michigan 1-11 (1-7)

League Champion: CMU over BG in the MAC Championship

League MVP: Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
Offensive MVP: MiQuale Lewis, Ball State
Defensive MVP: Sean Baker, Ball State

Biggest Surprise This Season: Ball State shocks Central Michigan, but drops the season finale against Western costing them their second straight trip to the MAC Championship Game.

Edge’s MAC Predictions
Order of Finish:
East
Ohio 8-4 (6-2)
Buffalo 5-7 (4-4)
Bowling Green 5-7 (4-4)
Akron 6-6 (3-5)
Temple 6-6 (3-5)
Kent State 3-9 (2-6)
Miami 1-11 (1-7)

West
Central Michigan 10-2 (8-0)
Western Michigan 10-2 (7-1)
Northern Illinois 7-5 (5-3)
Ball State 8-4 (5-3)
Toledo 4-8 (4-4)
Eastern Michigan 1-11 (1-7)

League Champion: Central Michigan over Ohio in the MAC Championship

League MVP: Dan LeFevour, CMU
Offensive MVP: MiQuale Lewis, BSU
Defensive MVP: Nick Bellore, CMU

Biggest Surprise This Season: As much as it pains me to say this, Northern Illinois pays back Ball State for the embarassing 45-14 loss in 2008 with a close victory in week 11.  Ohio comes into their own in the East, but falls incredibly short in the MAC Championship game.

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