My MAC Preseason Ballot
1. Northern Illinois - I like what Jerry Kill has done with the Huskies and I think given all the talent that is leaving the division, he has the toughness and experience in key positions to take the West.
2. Toledo - This could be a stretch, but Toledo has a lot of potential due to some risky recruiting and an offensive line that returns four starters as well as an experienced secondary, which can be huge in a conference like the MAC. I think Toledo will be tough in the passing game on both sides of the ball, which tends to be the right recipe in the MAC.
3. Central Michigan - It just seems to be too much to replace for CMU when you lose LeFevour, Brown, Anderson, Zombo, Gordy, and others. Add in a new system and a tough schedule, and I just don't think the Chippewas will be able to win some of those close games they have won in the past. Sorry, just my honest thoughts.
4. Western Michigan - I was surprised to see many with the Broncos on top of the West. Losing Hiller is huge for this team, as is losing Brandon West. They do return six starters on defense, but that defense was pretty poor, giving up 419 yards per-game. I think the Broncos are looking at about a 6-6 season.
5. Ball State - The Cardinals have arguably the best player in the conference in MiQuale Lewis, and he returns his entire offensive line. In fact, all of the Ball State offense is back, so they have to be more dangerous on that side. Really, they can't get worse than they were in 2009, but I still don't see a jump to the top of the West for BSU.
6. Eastern Michigan - I don't have much hope for Ron English and EMU either. The Eagles were just plain awful last year and a 4-win season would be a huge improvement. The Eagles should be more competitive, but I still see them at the bottom of the division.
1. Temple - Temple has the experience to win it all, and they are my MAC Championship pick. I think with 9 starters back on offense, including Bernard Pierce, the Owls have the ability to control games with a slower tempo. The Owls should also have a solid defense that is needed to win the conference. Home games with CMU, Ohio, and Bowling Green also give me reason to believe they are the favorites.
2. Ohio - Frank Solich has a good thing going at Ohio and I suspect he will have another bowl-eligible season in 2010 thanks to a strong defense led by Noah Keller and competitive offense with LaVon Brazil. Brazil should have a monster season this year.
3. Miami - Only two teams brought a quarterback to Media Day, and Miami was one. Zac Dysert didn't do much last year, throwing 16 INT's to 12 touchdowns, but he still threw for 2,611 yards and was able to learn on the job as a freshman. Look for him to lead an experienced offense to success in 2010.
4. Kent State - Spencer Keith was the only other quarterback at media day and he also enters his sophomore season for the Flashes. Most of the KSU offense is back, but the rocky career of Doug Martin will keep KSU from reaching the top of the division.
5. Bowling Green - The Falcons lose almost all of their skill position players, so it will be a tough year, but the Falcons should still pose some problems for their opponents each week.
6. Buffalo - I think Jeff Quinn can do some good things at Buffalo, but putting in a very different system will cause some early turbulence. Look for the Bulls to get better as the season moves on setting up a competitive 2011 season.
7. Akron - A new coach for Akron won't bring immediate success as the Zips still have a lot of areas to improve. The secondary is almost all new and combining that with a new system means the Zips will likely give up a lot of yards and points on defense.