MAC Football Rankings: CFN 2021 Pre-Spring

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MAC Football Rankings: CFN 2021 Pre-Spring

CFN Rankings

MAC Football Rankings: CFN 2021 Pre-Spring

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2021 MAC Rankings

MAC West

1. Toledo Rockets

Why To Be Happy: Toledo is getting back almost all of its seniors from a veteran offense – ten starters should return – meaning most of the offense is full of fourth and fifth-plus year players. Even better, all 11 starters should be back on D, but …

What To Work On: The pass rush has to improve. The secondary gave up the most passing yards per game in the MAC, and the defense as a whole was an issue, but everything should turn around as long as there are more plays behind the line.

Bottom Line: The Rockets went 4-2 with both losses by three points. They defense has to be better and the offense more efficient, but the talent, depth, and experience are all there to come up with the best team in a loaded MAC West.

2. Ball State Cardinals

Why To Be Happy: Just about everyone returns. Star RB Caleb Huntley and WR Antwan Davis are gone, but the line is loaded, the defensive front should be all back full, the offense should be just as strong, and the team that won the bowl game is mostly coming back.

What To Work On: The wide receiver depth is taking a wee bit of a hit with four players transferring, but it’s nothing to get into a twist over. The biggest problem for the team is the pass protection – the O line has to be a whole lot tighter, but …

Bottom Line: There’s a whole lot to like as head coach Mike Neu has the pieces in place with a good mix of veteran to rely on and dangerous young playmakers. The team that rolled through the MAC Championship and the bowl win over San Jose State should be able to keep it all going.

3. Central Michigan Chippewas

Why To Be Happy: The Chippewas got a nice quarterback prospect in Jacob Sirmon from the transfer portal. An elite get for Washington should be able to roll right away for a passing game that needs more pop. The offense should get everyone else back and the defensive back seven is loaded, but …

What To Work On: The defensive front will need some more bodies after doing a great job for one of the MAC’s best Ds. Tackle Mohamed Diallo is transferring along with two reserve ends, and a few other parts are still up in the air, but …

Bottom Line: If the offense can be a wee bit better, Jim McElwain will have a loaded team of veterans more than good enough to challenge for the MAC title. 2020 was a rebuilding year, and now it should all payoff.

4. Western Michigan Broncos

Why To Be Happy: The Broncos got a huge break with guard Mike Caliendo returning for another year to give them – potentially – four starters back up front. Most of the skill parts are back around QB Kaleb Eleby, the defense returns at least seven starters, and …

What To Work On: There are just enough losses to matter. WR D’Wayne Eskirdge, OT Jaylon Moore and DE Ali Fayad are all off to the NFL, and LB Treshaun Hayward is off to Arizona.

Bottom Line: After losing the last two games of the 4-2 season with a defensive collapse, the Broncos have the firepower to battle anyone and be deep in the mix for the MAC title. They need the star power to show up, though, in a division loaded with veterans.

5. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Why To Be Happy: Few teams get more talent back, with ten of the 11 defensive starters projected to return and Woo Scott stepping in at tackle for the one opening. The offensive side not only is expected to get back all 11 starters, but QB Ben Bryant is transferring in from Cincinnati.

What To Work On: The running game has to get working. The defensive needs to be far, far better after finishing last in the MAC, but the experience is there to do that. The ground attack that stalled too often needs to start doing a better job of controlling games.

Bottom Line: After a disappointing six game run, the Eagles should be a sneaky-interesting team in a MAC loaded with veterans. They were only blown out once in the 2-4 run and should be far more dangerous.

6. Northern Illinois Huskies

Why To Be Happy: There’s a ton of work happening in the coaching staff to try finding the right mix to get the program back to among the living. This was a really, really, really young defense last year that should be far stronger now that everyone has time logged in, the offense gets back enough talent to be better, and QB Rocky Lombardi is transferring in from Michigan State. However …

What To Work On: The transfers hurt. DT Weston Kramer has left for Temple and the wide receiver and secondary have been gutted by the transfer portal. The defense that allowed 40 points or more in four of the six games has to improve on everything.

Bottom Line: This isn’t the year to be in a rebuild in the MAC West, but that’s the deal. While everyone else in the division is loaded with veterans, the Huskies need to find a strong starting 22 that can at least be more competitive.

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