2012 MAC Football Conference Vegas Odds and Expert Predictions: Favorites and Sleepers to Win Championship Mid-American Conference Football 2012 – In the era of conference realignment, the Mid-American Conference has a chance to come out a winner. Long known for pulling upsets over schools from power conferences, the MAC had always been mentioned as one of the best leagues that didn’t have an automatic tie in with a BCS bowl. With the Big East seemingly getting weaker and the MAC coming off a season when its teams went 4-1 in bowl games, the conference has a chance to move up the pecking order. Granted, the playoff system set to be introduced in a couple of years throws the BCS out the window anyway, but the MAC can still continue to boost its national reputation. Here is a look at how the teams stack up for the upcoming college football season in one the country’s up-and-coming conferences.
2012 MAC Football Conference Odds, Picks and Predictions
In the East Division, the Ohio Bobcats are going to be tough dethrone. Last year’s team finished 10-4, reaching the conference title game and winning the school’s first bowl. Eight starters are back for a defense that led the MAC in points allowed and interceptions, and coach Frank Solich says this year’s unit is the best he has assembled. The offense will be led by dual-threat quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who is coming off a year when he finished just shy of 4,000 yards from scrimmage and accounted for 38 touchdowns. Tettleton will take care of putting points on the board, and the Bobcats’ stingy defense will do the rest. Look for Ohio head back to the MAC title game in 2012-13.
High-scoring shootouts were a weekly occurrence in the West Division last season, and while that probably won’t change this, the Western Michigan Broncos are built to put points on the board. The Broncos had the conference’s best passing attack last season and had the third-best scoring offense. With star quarterback Alex Carder returning, Western Michigan might just have the best offense in the MAC in 2012-13. Carder threw for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns last year, and he added 630 more yards on the ground. The defense is still a work in progress to say the least, but the Broncos should be able to outscore their opponents with their pass-happy system. Throw in the fact that Western Michigan gets the top teams from the division at home, and a showdown of the Broncos’ offense versus the Bobcats’ defense could be looming in the MAC title game.
The Dark Horses
Despite a 7-1 record in MAC play last season, the Toledo Rockets missed out on a spot fell just shy of a West Division crown thanks to a 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois. As evidenced by that final score, the Toledo defense can have some issues at times. However, the high-powered offense should be back lighting up the scoreboard this season. The Rockets use a two-quarterback system that nobody seems to be able to figure out. Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens combined for 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions last year, and both players threw at least 15 scores. Toledo ranked in the top 10 in the country in points per game last year, and with its dynamic duo back under center, a repeat performance could be on tap. The offense will give the Rockets a chance to win every game, but the defense has to hold up its end of the bargain for Toledo to reach the MAC title game.
The defending conference champion Northern Illinois Huskies will face an uphill climb if they want to repeat last season’s success. After all, MAC MVP Chandler Harnish is no longer running an offense that ranked second in the league in points per game last season, and four starting offensive linemen also must be replaced. On the plus side, a veteran group of explosive receivers do return, and middle linebacker Devon Butler is one of several starters back for a defense that should be much improved. The Huskies closed last season by winning nine games in a row, and make no mistake, this team is still talented. However, replacing Harnish will be tough. Junior Jordan Lynch will have to get up to speed as the new starter quickly if Northern Illinois is going to win the West Division and have a shot at defending its conference crown.
Looking at some of the numbers put up by the Kent State Golden Flashes last season, and it is easy to write this team off. After all, Kent State ranked second last in the MAC in scoring, averaging a meager 17.1 points per game. However, out-of-conference games against Alabama and Kansas State didn’t help their numbers, and more importantly, the Golden Flashes finished the year winning four of their last five games. They scored 24 or more points in all four victories, and 18 starters are back for a team that was clearly trending in the right direction. The quarterback situation still needs to be worked out, but the team definitely bought into whatever first-year head coach Darrell Hazell was selling. In year two with a ton of experienced players back in the mix, the Golden Flashes could surprise.
2012 Odds to Win the Mid-American Conference Football Championship
Western Michigan +400
Northern Illinois +600
Bowling Green +800
Kent State +1000
Eastern Michigan +1600
Central Michigan +2000
Ball State +2300
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