The pre-spring version of the CFN 2021 rankings with a first look at all the MAC teams.
2021 MAC Rankings: Pre-Spring
1. Kent State Golden Flashes
Why To Be Happy: Sean Lewis is still the head coach. He’s a strong young talent who’s overdue for a next step up job, but he’s around, as is QB Dustin Crum, who’s back for his senior-plus year. All five starters are expected back on the O line, just enough is back on defense to be okay, and landing S Antwaine Richardson from Maryland and WR Nykeim Johnson from Syracuse is huge.
What To Work On: Matthew Trickett was one of the best kickers in 2019 and was fine in his limited work last year. Now he’s at Minnesota, and good backup QB Woody Barrett is in the transfer portal. The D has to be a whole lot better despite losing a few key parts.
Bottom Line: It’ll be a good fight to be at the top of the MAC East, but the Golden Flashes should have too much offense to not make a run to the MAC Championship game.
2. Buffalo Bulls
Why To Be Happy: The team caught a break when RB Kevin Marks apparently decided to come back. He might not put up Jaret Patterson numbers, but he’s All-MAC good. At least seven starters are expected back on defense, and the quarterbacks are in place to be fine, but …
What To Work On: The team has to replace enough talent to be a problem. The O line needs some reworking, the receiving corps has to find parts, TE Zac Lefebvre took off for WKU, and DE Malcolm Koonce is one of the key defensive stars who’s done.
Bottom Line: This is likely going to be a weaker version of the team that should’ve won last year’s MAC title, but it’s still going to be one of the stars in the East if the O line comes together fast.
3. Ohio Bobcats
Why To Be Happy: Thanks to the return of a De’Montre Tuggle for his senior-plus season, the offensive backfield should be terrific. A few of the receivers are gone, and the line has to do some reshuffling, but the defense that was so young at so many parts should be a bit tighter.
What To Work On: Overall, the pass rush has to be a whole lot stronger, the defense has to be more disruptive, and the passing game has to be more dangerous. That’s a lot to fix, but they’re more tweaks than total overhauls.
Bottom Line: Ohio was supposed to be a whole lot better last year, but it should be a player in the MAC East race as long as the defensive line can start making more things happen in the backfield.
4. Miami University RedHawks
Why To Be Happy: The defensive front seven/six should be strong enough with the returning parts to be among the best in the MAC. QB Brett Gabbert is back along with a slew of decent receivers, and there’s a massive get from the transfer portal with Northwestern’s Isaiah Bowser coming in.
What To Work On: The O line needs new starts. Left tackle Tommy Doyle was a senior who’s now off to try out the NFL, and C Danny Godlevske is not an Oklahoma State Cowboy.
Bottom Line: There’s enough defensively to be terrific with a little time, and the offensive backfield will be good enough to shine if the line can quickly replace Doyle and Godlevske.
5. Akron Zips
Why To Be Happy: The Zips get back just about everyone on offense after going really, really young over the last few years, and the defense is almost all back full, too. There hasn’t been a whole lot coming in from the transfer portal – Michigan State RB Anthony Williams should play a role – but the veterans are there to improve.
What To Work On: Akron has to be better on the lines. The defensive front has to start making things happen in the backfield, and the offense needs to be far, far better in pass protection.
Bottom Line: It has been a brutal run over the last few years, but after two rough seasons under Tom Arth, at least the experience is there to potentially make a little bit of noise.
6. Bowling Green Falcons
Why To Be Happy: The offense should be a bit better. Syracuse transfer Drew Gunther is another option at quarterback, Andrew Clair is a veteran back, and this is when all the young receivers should step up. The D won’t be a brick wall, but it’ll be among the most experienced in the MAC.
What To Work On: The passing game has to work. That’s the whole reason for Scot Loeffler to be the head coach – the O is supposed to rock. It has taken a while, but as long as the turnovers slow down, the team will be a whole lot better.
Bottom Line: Baby steps need to be leaps. It’s the third year under Loeffler and this is when the rebuild needs to be complete. The team needs something it can rely on.