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2013 College Football Preview: MAC
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 7/1/2013  at  5:00:00 AM
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To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we begin our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2013 StatFox Edge Football Preview. First up is Mid-American Conference, which will contain the same 13 teams that it did from last season.

Odds to Win MAC

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3-to-2: Northern Illinois
11-to-4: Bowling Green
5-to-1: Ohio
6-to-1: Toledo
7-to-1: Ball State
15-to-1: Buffalo
15-to-1: Western Michigan
25-to-1: Kent State
40-to-1: Central Michigan
50-to-1: Akron
60-to-1: Miami (OH)
60-to-1: Eastern Michigan
100-to-1: Massachusetts

NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-2 (9-0 in MAC)
ATS Record: 9-3-2 (75%)
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 38.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
New Head Coach: Rod Carey
Superstar QB Jordan Lynch (3,138 pass yds, 25 TD, 6 INT; 1,815 rush yds, 19 TD) returns to try for another MAC title and BCS bowl berth. His elite O-Line and RB Akeem Daniels (6.2 YPC, 15 TD career) will help him do that, but the receiving corps is thin. Rod Careyís No. 21 scoring defense (19.9 PPG) will look to S Jimmie Ward (104 tackles, 11 PD, 3 INT), CB Sean Evans (7 PD) and LB Jamaal Bass (83 tackles) to compensate for a young defensive line.

BOWLING GREEN FALCONS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (6-2 in MAC)
ATS Record: 8-5 (62%)
Over/Under: 2-10
Points Scored: 22.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 16.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
The Falcons won six of their final seven MAC games, and have the horses to build on that in 2013. QB Matt Schilz (2,585 pass yds, 14 TD, 12 INT) and towering targets WRs Chris Gallon (720 rec. yds, 6 TD) and Shaun Joplin (639 rec. yds, 4 TD) benefit from a veteran O-Line. Itís unclear if RB Anthon Samuel (998 rush yds, 11 TD), who left the program for family reasons, will return. The defense gave up just 297 YPG (6th in FBS) and 16.8 PPG (10th in FBS), and will be stacked again in all areas. DE Bryan Thomas (3.5 sacks), LB Gabe Martin (70 tackles) and S BooBoo Gates (47 tackles) stand out.

OHIO BOBCATS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (4-4 in MAC)
ATS Record: 5-8 (39%)
Over/Under: 5-6-1
Points Scored: 31.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
What started out as a banner year (7-0) in 2012 went sour with four losses in five games. Much of that slide had to do with injuries to QB Tyler Tettleton (2,844 pass yds, 18 TD, 4 INT), who doesnít need to run the ball as much with RB Beau Blankenship (312 rush, 1,604 yds, 15 TD) as a teammate. A quality defense (24.8 PPG, T-46th in FBS) should be better with both CBs Travis Carrie (4 INT, 13 PD in 2011) and Jamil Shaw returning from near-season-long injuries. LB Keith Moore (84 tackles) stars in the front seven.

TOLEDO ROCKETS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (6-2 in MAC)
ATS Record: 7-6 (54%)
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 31.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
After an 8-1 start last year, the Rockets went 1-3 after October. The spread offense remains loaded with QB Terrance Owens (2,707 pass yds, 14 TD, 8 INT), RB David Fluellen (1,498 rush yds, 13 TD) and WR Bernard Reedy (1,113 rec. yds, 6 TD) plus an experienced O-Line. The awful defense (473 YPG, 112th in FBS) lost most of its starters, but All-MAC CB Cheatham Norrils (74 tackles, 2 INT) and DE Christian Smith (10 TFL career) are building blocks.

BALL STATE CARDINALS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (6-2 in MAC)
ATS Record: 9-4 (69%)
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 33.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.0 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
Ball State has a current six-game MAC win streak and returns all its key skill players. QB Keith Wenning (3,095 pass yds, 24 TD, 10 INT), RB Jahwan Edwards (1,410 rush yds, 14 TD), WRs Willie Snead (1,148 rec. yds, 9 TD) and Jamill Smith (706 rec. yds, 6 TD), and TE Zane Fakes (461 rec. yds, 5 TD) are all vital. However, four starting offensive linemen need to be replaced. The porous defense (462 YPG, 105th in FBS) lost all three starting LBs, but still has an elite pass rusher in DE Jonathan Newsome (8.5 sacks) and two starting CBs in Jeffery Garrett (57 tackles) and Eric Patterson (61 tackles).

BUFFALO BULLS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (3-5 in MAC)
ATS Record: 5-6-1 (46%)
Over/Under: 2-9
Points Scored: 21.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
After a 1-7 start, Buffalo switched to QB Joe Licata (6.4 YPA, 7 TD, 3 INT) and won three of four to close 2012. The offense tallied just 21.3 PPG (101st in FBS), but all skill-position players are back to score much more. RB Branden Oliver (117 rush YPG) is a monster when healthy, and WR Alex Neutz (1,015 yds, 11 TD) is impressive too. The MACís No. 2 defense (364 YPG) compiled 34 sacks in its attacking 3-4 scheme. LB Khalil Mack (94 tackles, 8 sacks) is a future pro, and DE Colby Way (7 sacks) and LB Lee Skinner (89 tackles, 5 sacks) are disruptive. CB Najja Johnson (5 INT) leads an intact secondary.

WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (2-6 in MAC)
ATS Record: 4-8 (33%)
Over/Under: 5-6
Points Scored: 29.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 29.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 2
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
New Head Coach: P.J. Fleck
Itís a new era at WMU with coach Bill Cubit and QB Alex Carder gone. P.J. Fleck, 32, will ask QB Tyler Van Tubbergen (1,825 pass yds, 15 TD, 11 INT) to run a multiple-set offense. The best skill players left are WR Jaime Wilson (792 rec. yds, 6 TD) and RB Dareyon Chance (947 rush yds). The defense returns mostly intact, but will switch to a 4-3 (was 3-3-5), led by All-MAC S Justin Currie (98 tackles) and DB-turned-LB Johnnie Simon (103 tackles).

KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-3 (8-1 in MAC)
ATS Record: 10-3-1 (77%)
Over/Under: 5-6-1
Points Scored: 33.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
New Head Coach: Paul Haynes
Paul Haynes takes over an 11-win program that lost the MAC title game in double overtime. RBs Dri Archer (1,990 total yds, 23 TD) and Trayion Durham (1,316 rush yds, 14 TD) are really tough. Either freshman QB Colin Reardon or JUCO David Fisher will be under center targeting WR Tyshon Goode (1,814 rec. yds, 12 TD career) who missed 2012 (hamstring). DL Roosevelt Nix (6 sacks, 15 TFL) anchors a stout front four and S Luke Wollet (4 INT, 119 tackles) leads a strong secondary. The linebackers have little experience.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (4-4 in MAC)
ATS Record: 6-7 (46%)
Over/Under: 7-4-1
Points Scored: 28.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
CMU began 2012 just 3-6, but ended with four straight wins. QB Cody Kater (2-for-4, 12 yds) is expected to replace QB Ryan Radcliff, and has a productive surrounding cast with RB Zurlon Tipton (1,497 rush yds, 19 TD) and WR Titus Davis (860 rec. yds, 20.0 YPC, 8 TD). The nationís No. 96 scoring defense (32.4 PPG) returns a lot, but needs someone other than DT Leterrius Walton (32 tackles, 3.5 TFL) to help improve its 2nd-fewest TFL (49) in the nation. LBs Justin Cherocci (132 tackles) and Shamari Benton (126 tackles), and S Avery Cunningham (88 tackles, 4 PD) lead an experienced back seven.

AKRON ZIPS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 1-11 (0-8 in MAC)
ATS Record: 6-6 (50%)
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 14.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 38.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Last year was a second straight winless MAC season for Akron, which will try to change its fortunes with QB Kyle Pohl (6.3 YPA, 5 TD, 2 INT). Heíll get good protection behind a smallish O-Line and has an experienced trio of 400-yard WRs in Dee Frieson, Keith Sconiers and L.T. Smith. RB Jawon Chisholm (953 rush yds, 5 TD) hopes to bolster the 114 rushing YPG (108th in FBS). DTs Cody Grice (47 tackles, 7.5 TFL) and Nico Caponi (29 tackles) solidify the front four, but LB Justin March (62 tackles) is the only proven linebacker. CB Malachi Freeman (54 tackles, 7 PD) shines brightest in the secondary.

MIAMI-OHIO REDHAWKS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (3-5 in MAC)
ATS Record: 3-8-1 (27%)
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 23.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 34.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The RedHawks were 4-8 mostly because of horrible line play on both sides, rushing for 87 YPG (3rd-worst in FBS) and allowing 241 rushing YPG (2nd-worst in nation). Stud QB Zac Dysert graduated and WR Nick Harwell transferred, leaving QB Austin Boucher (7.2 YPA, 7 TD, 3 INT career) and WR Dawan Scott (851 rec. yds, 7 TD) to fill these voids. OLB Chris Wade (128 tackles) and S Brison Burris (81 tackles, 3 INT) ignite a subpar defense.

EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-10 (1-7 in MAC)
ATS Record: 4-8 (33%)
Over/Under: 7-4
Points Scored: 21.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 37.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
After going 2-10 with the worst offense (336 YPG) and defense (480 YPG) in the MAC, the Eagles have major issues to deal with. QB Tyler Benz (1,506 pass yds, 14 TD, 8 INT) returns, but his top target is WR Donald Scott (19 rec, 255 yds, 3 TD). The running game is adequate (164 YPG, 60th in FBS) with RB Bronson Hill (910 rush yds, 6.5 YPC, 6 TD) leading the way. The nationís worst run defense (267 YPG) that tallied seven sacks (2nd-fewest in FBS) must replace three top defenders and all starting LBs. DE Kalonji Kashama (3 sacks) and FS Donald Coleman (87 tackles) will need some help.

MASSACHUSETTS MINUTEMEN


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 1-11 (1-7 in MAC)
ATS Record: 4-8 (33%)
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 12.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 40.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
To avoid another 1-11 season, UMass must improve the nationís worst offense (278 YPG, 12.7 PPG). But QB Mike Wegzyn (1,825 pass yds, 6 TD, 10 INT) has just one O-Lineman that was even on the 2012 UMass roster. RB Jordan Broadnax (2.7 YPC) and WR Rob Blanchflower (464 rec. yds) are underwhelming top skill players. The needy defense (40.2 PPG, 4th-worst in FBS) has some pieces to build around in DE Stanley Andre (42 tackles), LB Kassan Messiah (65 tackles) and DB Randall Jette (53 tackles, 2 INT).

All 2013 College Football Previews:

MAC
Conference USA - July 4
Mountain West - July 8
Sun Belt - July 11
American Athletic - July 15
Independents - July 18
ACC - July 22
Big 12 - July 29
Big Ten - August 5
Pac-12 - August 12
SEC - August 19
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