Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM
This weekend we pick back up again with our college football conference previews. If you missed the Mountain West reports, those ran this past Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ll focus on mid-majors from now up to the All-Star Break. When baseball takes a few days off, that will announce our transition to the power programs. Our SEC previews are scheduled for the first two days of the ASB.
Bowling Green is the early favorite in the Eastern Division of the Mid American (we’ll look at the West with Northern Illinois, Ball State, and company in Sunday’s report). The Falcons have more returning starters than anyone else in the whole league (by quite a bit), and return a talented quarterback. They went bowling last year after an 8-4 regular season even though they didn’t win their division. In 2013, they have a legitimate chance to win the MAC and a bowl.
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 9 on defense
Quarterback: Matt Schilz
Head Coach: Dave Clawson
Bowling Green ranked #6 in the nation last year in total defense. Sure, that’s misleading because of schedule strength. But, in the MAC…they’re clearly the premier stop unit because of talent and experience. If Schilz can improve on decent numbers…this could be a dominant season in the East because so many other teams have question marks at quarterback. Good tests come early vs. Tulsa and at Indiana in preconference play.
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 4 on defense
Quarterback: Tyler Tettleton
Head Coach: Frank Solich
Ohio has a chance to hang with Bowling Green (who they couldn’t beat last year in Athens) because they return Tettleton for his senior season. Smart quarterbacking can take you a long way in this mistake-prone league. The problem will be on defense, where inexperience could loom large for a unit that wasn’t very consistent last year. That defense will be tested right out of the gate at Louisville on August 31. JIM HURLEY will pick his spots with this team, particularly against inexperienced opposing quarterbacks.
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 4 on defense
Head Coach: Paul Haynes (new)
Prior coach Darrell Hazell is now at Purdue. Haynes takes over a team that must rebuild quickly after an 8-0 run through the MAC in the regular season. The team would lose the MAC final to Northern Illinois, and then it’s bowl game vs. Arkansas State. Star running backs return, which means you can back the Golden Flashes at value prices vs. teams who are soft against the run. Bet against them aggressively against defenses who can stop the run.
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 7 on defense
Quarterback: Alex Zordich or Joe Licata
Head Coach: Jeff Quinn
The Bulls are a potential sleeper because of all that experience. The defense was strong by MAC standards last year as well. Upsets in this conference are often driven by defenses making plays. We’re very interested to see how the season opener at Ohio State goes. If the team is competitive there, we’ll fade them hard the next week in the heat of Waco, Texas against Baylor. Definitely a team we could support here and there through league action.
MIAMI OF OHIO
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 5 on defense
Quarterback: Austin Boucher
Head Coach: Don Treadwell
The Redhawks were a disappointing 4-8 last year even with veteran quarterback Zac Dysert. Boucher wasn’t good enough to break through in a bad season, but will have a lot of experience surrounding him for his senior campaign. Defense was abysmal last year, which makes it hard to project any sort of serious improvement. This group will have to prove themselves to us.
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 7 on defense
Quarterback: Kyle Pohl
Head Coach: Terry Bowden
New quarterback Pohl will likely be overmatched in early action (particularly against Central Florida and Michigan). It’s possible that Coach Bowden is also overmatched as well. His return to the field from the TV booth didn’t go very well last year. The team wasn’t a total doormat. But they lost a late-season game to UMASS…who was a total doormat (that was the only win last year for UMASS). It’s unlikely we’ll be rooting for the Zips in any spots this year unless they take a really big step forward.
Returning Starters: 4 on offense, 5 on defense
Quarterback: Mike Wegzyn
Head Coach: Charley Molnar
Wow, a bad team loses a lot of starters. That can be a good sign if the replacements are any good. That’s usually not the case in the lower levels of the mid majors. UMASS is expected to be one of the worst teams in the country once again. They’ll be in real trouble against Wisconsin and Kansas State in early season action.
You can see why Bowling Green jumps out as a strong favorite! Everyone else is either inexperienced, uncertain, or a known straggler. We’ll have better quarterbacks but a couple of major coaching changes when we look at the MAC West in our next report.
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