The 2018 MAC Preview with the Game of the Year, Players of the Year, top pro prospects, big-time players who deserve a bigger spotlight, and more.
Preview 2018: MAC Preview
Okay, MAC. Now it’s time to get it back.
Ohio might have destroyed UAB 41-6 in the Bahamas Bowl, but the other four MAC teams – Central Michigan, Toledo, Akron and Northern Illinois – were destroyed in their bowl games by a combined score of 157 to 31.
For a conference that’s always looking to break through and get a little national traction and respect – like it did when Western Michigan rowed the boat to the Cotton Bowl in the 2016 season – it was a clunker end to an otherwise entertaining season. This year, the conference should be able to make amends for the past issues.
But forget about what the league might or might not do outside of the conference. The MAC slate itself should be a blast with a slew of pro prospects, rising teams, and with enough improvements to hope for a more even league.
Start with the improvement of the bottom-feeders, and then work your way up.
Ball State only one two games and finished winless in the conference, but it gets back QB Riley Neal and RB James Gilbert. That alone should account for a few victories.
Bowling Green will have a more entertaining offense, and Kent State actually will have an offense under new head coach Sean Lewis and his FlashFast style.
Eastern Michigan will be good with a rough schedule – more on that in a moment – and, with a few breaks, Miami University has the talent to overcome last year’s losing season and go bowling.
And then it gets really fun.
Akron has enough parts to be a thorn in everyone’s side in the East, but Ohio is really, really good again, and Buffalo is even better. After a few down seasons, the division won’t just be the league’s little brother.
The West will be just as tough again, with another good Central Michigan team returning, Western Michigan strong enough to win at least six games again, and Northern Illinois about to be back to a MAC championship level.
With a ridiculously talented receiving corps and enough defensive talent to get by, defending champ Toledo is pretty good, too.
Enjoy what should be among the better MAC seasons in a while, and then hope the conference shows up when the bowl world is watching.
MAC Team That Will Surprise
Good last year – but ignored by the bowl world – now the Bulls should be MAC Championship-good. They have three of the best players in the league in LB Khalil Hodge, QB Tyree Jackson and WR Anthony Johnson, and they have the depth and talent to beat anyone on the schedule. There isn’t a game on the slate they can’t win – at Rutgers is the only Power Five date – but they have to go to Toledo and Ohio.
MAC Team That Will Disappoint
Eastern Michigan Eagles
EMU will be good, the program is far, far better than it was just a few years ago, and if it can start to win close games, it could be off to a bowl game. However, the problem is a brutal, brutal, BRUTAL schedule.
Try this – at Purdue, at Buffalo, at San Diego State, Northern Illinois, at Western Michigan, Toledo … and that’s just in the first half of the season. That doesn’t sound dates with Army, Central Michigan or Akron over the second half.