The next in our series of Conference Conversations takes us to the Mid-American Conference. The Saturday Edge is very pleased to present an exclusive MAC football Q & A session with Matt Sussman of the MAC sports blog Hustle Belt.
Question # 1: Which teams do you believe are the favorites to win the east and west divisions this seasons? What other team(s) could realistically challenge for the division & conference title? Why?
The media picked Ohio in the East and Toledo in the West to win their divisions. But, honestly both divisions are wide open right now. Kent State, Bowling Green and Miami are all better. EMU is better. Toledo and NIU lost key players. So did WMU. CMU could get better too.
You’ve got as good a chance at predicting the winners as you do the outcome of two rolled dice. I don’t say this every year, but everyone’s worth watching. The only team that won’t win it is UMass because this is their transitional year and are ineligible. And, Akron probably won’t either.
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Question # 2: Name me a few unknown players that could become stars this season?
Some wide receiver always comes out of nowhere in Bowling Green and contends for the conference lead in yards. That could be someone like Shaun Joplin or Herve Cody.
I think people know about Akron running back Jawon Chisholm, but with a coach like Terry Bowden, he could break out further.
And if Northern Illinois is going to do anything, quarterback Jordan Lynch needs to replace Chandler Harnish somehow.
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Question # 3: Which team do you believe will show the greatest improvement over last season? Which team is overrated (not nearly as good as they are being made out to be)?
Toledo’s gonna take a step back. As good as the 2011 team was, they were still probably underappreciated. Their recruiting class is nice and their defense will be much better (read: not-injured) but they just lost too much on the offensive line and skill positions.
As for who will be the most improved, I could say “everybody in the MAC East” to be safe. If I wanted to be more daring I’d say Miami. If I wanted to be extremely daring I’d say Buffalo.
MAC Final Thoughts
But to harp on the first and last points again … it’s going to be a wide open race. This isn’t the SEC where you’re basically picking between 2-3 teams. This conference is always insane and legitimately 10 teams could win the MAC. With 13 schools basically trying to recruit the same players, the margin of error in any division will likely come down to a single game, or series, or play. That was certainly the case between NIU and Toledo last year.
I would like to thank Matt for his participation and great answers to our MAC football questions. If you get a chance please check out Hustle Belt, they have a lot of great MAC football info over there. And don’t forget to leave us your MAC comments below.