The Mid-American Conference is home for crazy Tuesday night football games in November, where defense is ignored in favor of high scoring and high drama. In 2016, the MAC gained national attention for a magical undefeated season from Western Michigan University, who got the chance to play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl, a prestigious bowl game no MAC team had ever played in previously. While 2017 will most likely not include another undefeated MAC season, it is a lock that we will still see some exciting football from the MAC. On we go to the Midwest as we look at the Mid-American Conference.
Honorable mention to Western Michigan University. They will do well in 2017, but with the departure of a number of their stars from last season, and with a new head coach in charge, I do not want to include them in these predictions. Such losses make a drop off for this season a disappointment but also to be expected; therefore, they will not fall under the disappointments category.
Miami University Redhawks (MiamiOH) – The Redhawks started 2016 with six straight losses. They finished the season with six straight wins, ending in a tie for the MAC East Division with Ohio University, who had beaten Miami earlier in the season. Coach Chuck Martin has turned the tides at Miami, with his team now looking poised to win their first MAC Championship since 2010. With a potential breakout star in Quarterback Gus Ragland leading the way, Miami’s offense looks ready to overpower opponents in 2017. Not too long ago, the Redhawks were a doormat for the MAC, with three wins a season being the norm. For the first time in a long time, Miami is in line to win a MAC East crown, as well as a MAC Championship.
Ohio University Bobcats (OU) – Prior to Coach Frank Solich arriving at OU in 2005, the school was known primarily for its party atmosphere and spectacular scenery. As of 2017, the partying and scenery as just as phenomenal as ever, but the football now also sees consistent success. As the defending MAC East Champions, the Bobcats will look to improve upon a 2016 season that included eight wins and another appearance in a bowl game. With AJ Ouelette returning at Running Back, the offense will look to improve upon a season where they led the MAC East in scoring, but were fourth in scoring for the MAC as a whole. The Bobcats have become the most consistent team in the MAC, with the expectation in Athens, Ohio now being for OU to make it to a bowl game every year. Not only will 2017 see another bowl appearance for Ohio, but we should also see the Bobcats compete strongly for the MAC East once again.
University of Toledo Rockets (Tol) – If you are to ask any coach in the MAC who the best quarterback will be in 2017, you will probably get the same answer from everyone. That Quarterback is the Toledo’s Logan Woodside. Woodside was phenomenal in 2016, passing for 45 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Head Coach Jason Candle is well on his way to establishing himself as a coach on the rise in college football. With a good chunk of the defense returning for 2017, this could be a dangerous team for all opponents, and that includes non-conference opponents. Look for the Rockets to supplant Western Michigan as the champions of the MAC West, with a MAC Championship firmly within reach for Toledo.
University of Akron Zips (Akr) – The Akron Zips did not appear in a bowl game in 2016, finishing the season with a 5-7 record under Coach Terry Bowden. Bowden’s arrival to Akron was supposed to bring with it a shift in ideology to the football program, with increased success on the field being the ultimate goal. That has yet to happen, but that may change this season. Quarterback Thomas Woodson is healthy for 2017, which will be crucial considering the monster statistics he was able to accumulate when he was healthy last season. With an additional seven of ten starters on offense returning alongside Woodson, the 2017 season could be the opportunity to turn things around at Akron that Coach Bowden has been looking for. If Akron can succeed on the road, which they will have to do against Bowling Green State University, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Miami, then their overall success should be all but a guarantee. The Zips have the ability to pull an upset in 2017 and steal the MAC East Division from the top dogs at Ohio and Miami.
Per my general rule, there are no teams in the MAC that fall under the label of disappointment.
The MAC can be a chaotic and wild conference to compete in, and that should be no different in the coming season. Miami enters as the unlikely favorite, while Ohio and Toledo look to be in close contention as well. In addition, Akron has just as much a chance to surprise the conference and fight for a conference Championship. Find out who wins the MAC, as well as all of the other conferences, Sunday at Midnight, only on tedtalksports.com!