In recent years the Mid-American Conference has generally been an uneven split in terms of the divisions. The MAC West has generally been stronger with the likes of Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball State been consistently strong whilst the East has only struggled to keep up. Bowling Green was the only team in 2014 who finished with a winning record from the MAC East whilst four teams from the West managed this.
The 2015 season sees this trend likely to continue as the MAC West looks to have more strength throughout the division. Teams like Toledo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan would be the clear favourite to win the MAC East if they were in the other division over teams like Bowling Green and Akron.
Bowling Green cruised to the MAC East title last year despite losing their final two games of the regular season. Once again they are expected to be the favourites to make the MAC title game for what would be the third straight year as they return two experienced starters at QB. Their main challengers this year will be the Akron Zips who have assembled the strongest defence in the MAC including highly touted Jatavis Brown at linebacker. The question being whether the Zips offence can score enough points to give the defence a chance.
After that there is another tier of teams featuring Ohio and Massachusetts who should have a solid season but are unlikely to challenge for a place in the MAC title game without a surprise result or two. Ohio have an experienced team with 18 returning starters whilst UMass have the best returning quarterback in the league in Blake Frohnapfel who transferred from Marshall prior to 2014.
The final tier sees Kent State and Buffalo continue to try and make strides to catch up with the top teams in the conference. Kent State are still reeling after falling from 11-3 in 2013 to 2-9 in 2014 whilst Buffalo would likely have been bowl eligible last year if their game with Kent State wasn’t postponed and not re-arranged leaving them 5-6. Both teams will be battling to be bowl eligible in 2015. At the bottom Miami (Ohio) improved by two wins last year and will be happy to continue their upward trajectory.
The stronger division in the conference will be incredibly competitive at the top as the likes of Toledo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan will be battling to win the West. The Toledo Rockets haven’t been to the MAC title game since 2004 despite being very close in recent years as Northern Illinois have dominated with five straight appearances MAC West titles. Drew Hare replaced Jordan Lynch at QB to continue the Huskies recent tradition as one of the strongest group of five teams. Western Michigan are the dark horses to win the West with a strong all round team but they get both Northern Illinois and Toledo on the road as well as Bowling Green from the East.
Ball State have struggled to replace the talent they had in 2012-13 but should be looking at bowl eligibility and the same applies Central Michigan who nearly pulled off that amazing comeback in the Bahamas Bowl against Western Kentucky, losing 48-49 after trying a game winning two point conversion with no time remaining. Eastern Michigan are stronger than their 2-10 record showed last year but in a competitive West division they’ll just be looking to improve in 2015.
Prediction: Toledo to beat Bowling Green in the MAC title game.