|Daily Blog •March 4, 2013|
In my last several blogs, I have been breaking down each team’s schedule for the upcoming year with the hits/misses in conference play as well as the marquee non-conference games that each team faces.
A couple of days ago, the MAC announced all of their 2013 schedules and today I thought it would be a great time to break down the conference.
Last year was a banner year for the MAC as a record 7 teams qualified for bowl games highlighted by their first-ever BCS bowl bid with Northern Illinois going to the Orange Bowl.
For this blog, I have included the six MAC teams that all won eight or more games last year as the “power teams” in their respective divisions. Those teams were Northern Illinois, Ball St and Toledo from the West and Kent St, Bowling Green and Ohio from the East.
Keep in mind, the MAC with 13 conference members plays an uneven conference schedule as far as cross-divisional games go. The MAC West, which consists of 6 teams, plays all 5 of their division foes and 3 from the East Division. The MAC East, on the other hand, has 7 teams and while some teams play all six division foes, others actually do not play one of their division rivals. For example, Buffalo and Akron do not play one another this year as well as Massachusetts and Kent St.
Here are the MAC’s Hits/Misses for this year.
Ball St-Pete Lembo has exceeded my expectations greatly in each of his first two years and 2013 will see them pull Akron, Miami and Kent from the East. After opening up the season with two straight home games, however they do play five of their next seven away from home.
Central Michigan-Dan Enos was on the hot seat entering 2012, but he silenced many of his critics after leading the Chips to a bowl win. In 2013, they open at Michigan and pull just one of the “Big 3” from the MAC East in Ohio. They also get Northern Illinois and Toledo at home in division play and will have an opportunity to continue to build off last season’s success.
Eastern Michigan-After achieving their first non-losing season in more than a decade in 2011, the Eagles fell back to Earth last year. 2013 will not be easier as they pull both Bowling Green and Ohio from the East and must also play West powers Northern Illinois and Toledo on the road making their MAC schedule arguably the toughest in the West. They also have B2B away games in non-conference play against Penn St and Rutgers.
Northern Illinois-The defending champs have a new head coach but do welcome all-everything QB Jordan Lynch. Their sees them play four of their first five games away from home including a MAC Championship rematch at Kent St. While they do get Ball St at home, they play at Toledo the following week in November as those two games figure to possibly decide the MAC West race.
Toledo-The Rockets are off three straight bowl appearances and will look to make it four in a row in 2013. Their schedule sees them pull arch rival Bowling Green from the East on the road but they do also pull Akron and Buffalo. Their first five games might be the toughest stretch of any MAC team this year as they open up at Florida and Missouri and also play Central Michigan and Ball St B2B on the road in late September.
Western Michigan-The Broncos start a new era with head coach PJ Fleck and it won’t be easy as they pull 3 road games against the Big 10 in the first four weeks. They do pull Kent from the East along with Buffalo and Massachusetts but do have to play Northern Illinois and Toledo away from home.
Akron-The Zips were a much improved team in year one under Terry Bowden even though they managed only one victory. However, the MAC schedule makers did him and the Zips no favors this year as they pull all of the “Big 3” from the MAC West in Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball St. The Zips were the only MAC team to pull all three of the best teams from the opposite division. They also skip out on playing Buffalo in West play as the Bulls had a losing season last year and must also play at Massachusetts. Needless to say the Zips have arguably the toughest MAC slate this year.
Bowling Green-The Falcons who for the first couple of years under Dave Clawson did not catch any schedule breaks in MAC play finally got one last year in avoiding Northern Illinois and Ball St from the West and took advantage getting back to a bowl. This year they naturally pull arch rival Toledo from the West and its at home and they also play all six of their East division teams which has been the weaker of the two division in MAC play. On the down side, they do play 3 of their last four games away from home in MAC play.
Buffalo-The Bulls will be looking to achieve a winning season in Jeff Quinn’s fourth year but they have a rough start at Ohio St and at Baylor to open up the season. In conference play they pull Toledo from the West but unfortunately also avoid Akron in East play.
Kent St-The Golden Flashes are coming off their best season in school history but this year will be no easy task with new head coach Paul Haynes as they pull both Ball St and Northern Illinois from the West. While they get Bowling Green at home in week two it is then followed by three straight road games at LSU, Penn St and Western Michigan and they then play the Cards and Huskies. On the bright side, the last six weeks of the season includes two byes.
Massachusetts-The Minutemen were able to pull off one MAC win in their first year in FBS last year and will be looking for more in 2013. While they do pull defending MAC Champ Northern Illinois from the West, they avoid defending MAC East Champ Kent St. After beating Akron last year on the road they get them at home but do have a very tough non-conference slate against Wisconsin, Kansas St and Vanderbilt
Miami, Oh-The Redhawks play all six of their East foes and pull Ball St and Central Michigan from the West. While they do have to play at East powers Ohio and Kent St, they do get two winnable games vs Akron and Buffalo at home.
Ohio-The Bobcats have now been to four straight bowls under Solich including winning the last two but have yet captured that elusive MAC Title since 1968 despite 3 MAC Title game appearances in the last 7 years. Like last year, their schedule sets up nicely for them as they are the only MAC team to avoid all of the “Big 3” from the opposite division and they also get defending MAC East champ Kent St at home.