Can't wait for spring practice? Here's something for you craving pre-season prognostications for next August already. It looks like the East will be even more likely to be the least than last year with Temple hoping to hold up the flag. With coaching changes abound, it looks like a down year in the MAC. CMU in the solid in the West, but everything else is up in the air. After this season's disappointing bowl season, you have to figure the conference can only go up. Red means the team is supposed to be better while blue means the team is going to fall off a little bit.
63. Central Michigan 2008 Record: 8-5 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 56 If this isn’t the best team in the MAC, it’ll be close. QB Dan LeFevour is back for his final season and he has a tremendous array of weapons around him including WRs Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson. The defense might not be great, but it gets all 11 starters back.
70. Western Michigan 2008 Record: 9-4 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 50
It’s all about QB Tim Hiller and a strong offensive line that gets four starters back. The loss of top targets Jamarko Simmons, TE Branden Ledbetter, and Schneider Julien should hurt the passing game, but the return of RB Brandon West should help pick up the slack. All four starters, including big-hitting Louis Delmas, are gone.
71. Northern Illinois 2008 Record: 6-7 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 74
Second-year head coach Jerry Kill will have to press on without star DE Larry English, but the defense should be fine and the offense far crisper. Alex Kube is a fantastic linebacker to work around, but the D will take a step back with so many holes. The offense has to replace the right side of the line, but there’s hope for an improvement with QB Chandler Harnish a year more experienced.
91. Temple 2008 Record: 5-7 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 86
Al Golden’s excellent recruiting classes should finally pay off. Last year’s team couldn’t seem to come up with a close win, but with a team loaded with veterans and depth, this could be this year’s Buffalo. However, losing QB Adam DiMichele and C Alex Derenthal hurts.
93. Ball State 2008 Record: 12-2 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 18
This will be a far cry from last year. Stan Parrish knows the team, he recruited most of the returning players, but he loses QB Nate Davis early to the NFL and three key offensive linemen are gone. The defense will have to carry things early on, but RB MiQuale Lewis is a good star to ease in new starting QB Tanner Justice.
94. Bowling Green 2008 Record: 6-6 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 84
Can new head coach Dave Clawson do more for the Falcons than he did for Tennessee’s offense? He’ll need to with a defense that loses almost all the key players on the defensive front seven. The offense gets back QB Tyler Sheehan, but loses the right side of the line.
101. Buffalo 2008 Record: 8-6 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 52
Isn’t this way low for the defending MAC champions? After all, head coach Turner Gill is still around as are RB James Starks and WR Naaman Roosevelt, but QB Drew Willy will be tough to replace. It’s almost impossible to ask for all the breaks the 2008 team got, especially when it came to takeaways, for a second year in a row.
103. Ohio 2008 Record: 4-8 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 95
The hard luck Bobcats lost four games by eight points or fewer and lost to Ohio State in a 26-14 battle that was closer than the final score. QB Boo Jackson should be one of the MAC’s biggest stars, while eight starters return on D.
104. Kent State 2008 Record: 4-8 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 96
QB Julian Edelman is gone, but RB Eugene Jarvis is back to carry the running game while the defense should be loaded. LB Derek Burrell was a great one who won’t be easily replaced, but it’ll be a minor shock if KSU doesn’t have one of the five best defenses in the league.
105. Toledo 2008 Record: 3-9 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 107
Former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman takes over the program that was among the MAC’s elite for so long. The defense loses a stud in DB Tyrrell Herbert, but it gets everyone else back. The offense needs to be more consistent, and it should be if QB Aaron Opelt can have a nice season.
106. Akron 2008 Record: 5-7 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 88
The Zips had one of the nation’s worst defenses when it came to getting into the backfield last year. If the veteran D can generate some semblance of a pass rush, the results should start to come even with the worries on offense. RB Dennis Kennedy carries the attack at times last year, and now it’ll be up to QB Chris Jacquemain to be a star.
108. Miami University 2008 Record: 2-10 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 117
Easily one of the nation’s most disappointing teams last year, there will be a little bit of a rebuilding job needing to be done … but things can’t be much worse. The linebacking corps really was good, and now it’ll have to replace all three starters. The offense has some work to do up front, but it gets most of the key skill players back. Now they have to start to produce.
114. Eastern Michigan 2008 Record: 3-9 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 113
New head coach Ron English’s first task is to find something the defense can do well, and he’ll have to do it without LB Daniel Holtzclaw. The offense will hope to build around the record-setting finish from QB Andy Schmitt, but he won’t have Tyler Jones to throw to anymore. The Eagles won their two games over FBS teams by a total of seven points.