Graham Watson at ESPN breaks down the teams as follows
Bank on it: Temple, NIU, Ohio, KentI'll stick to her convention and fill in for four of the MAC's five bowl games (Bank on it) Assume that they get their fifth tie in (Most Likely), the teams who may either beat out the most likely team or back into an at large (outside shot), and then those with little hope of making a bowl.
Most Likely: Toledo
Outside Shot: CMU, WMU
Better Luck Next Year: Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Miami, Ball State, EMU
It's hard to disagree with NIU and Temple bowling, or some of the lower tier teams not bowling. Initially I did not think Kent belonged in the 'Bank on it' category but the more I look at the flashes the more I realized that for them to not go bowling would constitute a monumental failure. Ohio, on the other hand, may not be as much a given as everyone thinks they are.
My 'Rankings' Are:
Bank on it: Temple, NIU, Kent, ToledoMost Likely: OhioOutside Shot: CMU, Buffalo, Bowling GreenBetter Luck Next Year: Akron, WMU, Miami, Ball State, EMU
The Team: The Zips will be breaking in a new coaching staff who have, hopefully, gotten their only major gaff out of the way. The Zips are a young team but last year Patrick Nicely really developed as the season wore on. The Zips have solid talent have solid potential just about everywhere save the defensive backfield.
The Schedule: Syracuse(?), Gardner-Webb(W), Kentucky(L), Indiana(L), Northern Illinois(L), Kent State(?), Ohio(L), Western Michigan(?), Temple(L), Ball State(?), Miami (OH)(?), Buffalo(?).
The Result: Six very likely losses, one very likely win and too many toss ups (I would almost call Syracuse a sure loss but not quite).
Verdict: Better luck next year, and with the talent in the pipeline (not to mention the need to win after recent investments) the Zips really may be making noise after this season.
The Team: MiQuale Lewis getting another season saves the Cards from having another embarrassing season. They have a very talented incoming Quarterback in Kelly Page and now they have an experience running back for him to lean on. The offensive line is still going to be a concern but the biggest worry on offense is going to be at wide out.
The Schedule: Southeast Missouri State(W), Liberty(W), Purdue(L), Iowa(L), Central Michigan(L), Western Michigan(?), Eastern Michigan(W), Toledo(L), Kent State(L), Akron(?), Buffalo(?), Northern Illinois(L).
The Result: Playing two FCS teams will help with the wins but not their chances of getting to a Bowl Game. There are three games they have almost no excuse to lose (though only two can count). They have Six Games that they should be big underdogs in and a couple of toss ups.
Verdict: Better luck next year, They will need to knock off all of their toss up games (Buffalo, Akron, WMU) and beat at least one of the teams that have to be favorites over them (CMU, Toledo, Kent, NIU) in order to go bowling this year.
The Team: So did NCAA all time leader Freddie Barnes make the clawfense or did the clawfense make him? Despite the press that Barnes got last year the real loss that the team is going to struggle overcoming is at quarterback. Aside from the QB position the Falcons are looking at a solid unit.
The Schedule: Troy(L), Tulsa(L), Marshall(?), Michigan(L), Buffalo(?), Ohio(L), Temple(L), Kent State(?), Central Michigan(?), Miami (OH)(W), Toledo(?), Western Michigan(?)
The Result: The Falcons have a very lukewarm schedule. They don't have too many games that are out of their reach (especially if they settle up at quarterback) but the also lack any give me games. If things pan out at QB the falcons should separate themselves out from the middle of the conference.
Verdict: Outside shot, all the pieces are in place for the Falcons to make it to a second consecutive bowl except a seasoned quarterback. If their quarterback situation does not pan out they will have a lot of trouble getting to six wins.
The Team: New offense, new defense, new quarterback, new receiving corps, despite all the excitement around the new staff this is a massive rebuilding year. Even without the coaching changes losing Roosevelt, Hamlin, and Rack (80% of UB's receiving yards) would have made for a difficult year, about the only thing UB has going for it is their schedule.
The Schedule: Rhode Island(W), Baylor(L), UCF(?), Connecticut(L), Bowling Green(?), Northern Illinois(L), Temple(L), Miami (OH)(W), Ohio(L), Ball State(?), Eastern Michigan(W), Akron(?)
The Team: Hmm Lost arguably the best QB's to come out of the MAC in years, check. Lost the best all around offensive weapon in the conference, check. Lost the most successful coach in the MAC over the past three seasons, check. Offensively the Chips are as close to starting from scratch as a team can get without having been handed the death penalty. Their Defense should be solid, and may carry the team, but like Buffalo they have so much rebuilding on offense that it's hard to imagine them in the post season.
The Schedule: Hampton(W), Temple(L), Eastern Michigan(W), Northwestern(L), Ball State(W), Virginia Tech(L), Miami (OH)(W), Northern Illinois(L), Bowling Green(?), Western Michigan(?), Navy(L), Toledo(?)
The Result: A Challenging draw from the East (Temple/Bowling Green), and a pretty respectable non conference schedule are going to make a bowl run hard for the Chips. They have four games that they should walk away with but five in which they look to be dogs in.
The Verdict: Outside shot. On the back of their defense the chips should compete against the middle tier of the MAC teams and that may be enough to get them over the top.
The Team: The soft underbelly of the MAC is still located in Ypsilanti. Between player attrition and coaching staff changes this is almost another 1st year regime situation for the Eagles. The team will be lucky if they sneak a win in this year, if they fail to do something good this season (like win a game) His two years without a win may make 2011 a hot seat year for Coach English. Last years team may actually have been better than this seasons team.
The Schedule: Army(?), Miami (OH)(?), Central Michigan(L), Ohio State(L), Ohio(L), Vanderbilt(L), Ball State(L), Virginia(L), Toledo(L), Western Michigan(L), Buffalo(L), Northern Illinois(L)
The Result: If the Eagles are going to win any games they need to do it in the first two weeks. After that their schedule is pretty ugly with Ball State and Maybe Buffalo as the only teams they have a prayer of being in the game with.
The Verdict: Better luck next-next, year. Right now the Eagles are two years away from being a year away from a bowl game.
The Verdict: Better luck next year. In 2011 the Hawks should be in the hunt for a bowl but their schedule this year and the lack of support for Dysert is going to keep them in the bottom third of the conference.
The Team: Aside from a few minor questions on defense this team is good to go. The Huskies are easily my favorite to win the west and should give Temple a run for their money in Detroit (and Deklab). The only big offensive question going into this year is the durability of Chandler Harnish.
The Schedule: Iowa State(W), North Dakota(W), Illinois(L), Minnesota(?), Akron(W), Temple(?), Buffalo(W), Central Michigan(W), Western Michigan(W), Toledo(?), Ball State(W), Eastern Michigan(W)
The Result: The Huskies have an outside shot at ten wins this season, only Temple and Toledo will likely hold pace with Northern Illinois.
The Verdict: Bank on it, Jerry Kill will be taking the Huskies to their third straight Bowl appearance, and maybe their first conference title in some time.
The Team: The Bobcats in 2009 remind me of the Bulls in 2008, despite having a potent offence what really made the team was an opportunistic defense and solid special teams. Like Buffalo last season the Bobcats will have to compensate for a new quarterback and a new star offensive skill player (UB lost Starks, Ohio Loses Price). Like Buffalo The Bobcats will tempt the take away gods a year after going +7, pundits like Phil Steele point out these things tend to even out.
The Schedule: Wofford(W), Toledo(?), Ohio State(L), Marshall(L), Eastern Michigan(W), Bowling Green(W), Akron(W), Miami (OH)(W), Louisiana-Lafayette(?), Buffalo(W), Temple(L), Kent State(?)
The Result: Six should win games and a whole gaggle of games that that Cats should either win or compete in.
The Verdict: It's very likely that Ohio will make the six win mark, they may actually manage to defend their division title if they manage to come even close to their turnover margin from last season.
The Team: This may finally be Temples year. The Owls will be breaking in a new quarterback but its not like Vaughn Charlton (now a tight end) had much to do with their success last season, that was all Pierce. If Bernard Pierce stays healthy and the Temple defense performs near the level they were at last season it's very hard to see Temple not taking the Eastern Division.
The Schedule: Villinova(W), Central Michigan(W), Connecticut(L), Penn State(L), Army(W), Northern Illinois(?), Bowling Green(W), Buffalo(W), Akron(W), Kent State(?), Ohio(?), Miami(OH) (W)
The Result: I almost, and perhaps should have, marked Villinova a toss up game but I'm giving the Owls the benfit of the doubt this season. Putting Villinova aside there are only two games I expect the Owls to lose and three where they are toss ups.
The Verdict: If you had to bet on just one team from the MAC playing a December/January game it's going to be the Owls. This is probably their most difficult cross conference draw since joining the MAC and their out of conference schedule is very respectable but they have fewer key losses than any of the MAC east contenders this season.
The Team: Coach Beckman raised the bar very high during the first half of last season but Toledo fell apart in conference play, they have lost some of their finest players (and leaders). Despite the disappointing finish the Rockets have a solid trajectory for the future. Toledo had a solid recruiting class last season and may retain enough of the team to crash a bowl game.
The Schedule: Arizona(L), Ohio(?), Western Michigan(W), Purdue(L), Wyoming(?), Boise State(L), Kent State(?), Ball State(W), Eastern Michigan(W), Northern Illinois(?), Bowling Green(W), Central Michigan(W)