NCAA Football Preview: MAC

Bowling Green O:5 D:5

The Bowling Green would have returned to the MAC Championship game were it not for a double OT loss against Toledo in their season finale, which capped the Falcons' fifth straight winning season. Head Coach Gregg Brandon's squad returns only 10 starters from last season but solid recruiting over the past few years and many of them should be stepping up this season.

Quarterback Anthony Turner started two games last season when QB Jacobs was injured and provided a sneak peak of the Falcons' offense for the next few seasons. Defensively, the Falcons gave up a lot on the ground last season but should improve greatly this year. Brandon knows what it takes to win in this conference, and the Falcons should improve dramatically and may surprise a few teams. Expect a surprisingly good season from the Falcons followed by an ever better campaign next year.

Akron ZIPS O:8 D:9
The Zips won't forget last season, when they won their first-ever MAC Championship by beating N. Illinois in the dying moments of the Title game. Head Coach JD Brookhart and his coaches have racked up consecutive winning seasons in their first two years, creating high hopes for the 2006 campaign. On Offense, Quarterback Luke Getsy returns after setting a school record with 455 passing yards in the Motor City Bowl against Memphis. However, the Zips have lost some key Wide Receivers and Running Backs to graduation. On the bright side, the Offensive Line is solid, one of the best in years, so the Zips' offense should top last year's stats. The Defense should be stellar, with nine starters back from a unit that gave up 24 PPG and 340 total YPG. The Zips have a team that can again challenge for the conference championship, but it will be a bit more difficult this season with road games against divisional opponents Ohio and Kent State.
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Buffalo 0:7 D:5
The Bulls have been a pitiful bunch for seven seasons, compiling a record of 10-69 SU. There weren't many strong points for the Bulls last season. They didn't get their first TD until their fourth game of the season, and limped to their third one-win season in the program's history. About the only positive is this is a new season and hired Head Coach Turner Gill to try and stop the bleeding. He's brought in a seasoned, winning coaching staff that can hopefully turn the Bulls' fortunes around.

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The Golden Flashes had a difficult 2005, as they were a green team heading into the season and then suffered a number of injuries on both defense and offense. They limped to a 1-10 record, and were so decimated that even Buffalo was able to get its first-ever MAC road win. This season should be dramatically different as the Golden Flashes are one of the most experienced teams in the MAC, thanks in large part to many of their injured players returning. Offensively, things are much improved and they should easily beat the 16 PPG average from last season. Defensively, they surrendered 30 PPG a year ago, but with nine returnees things should be a lot better. The Golden Flashes were in major rebuilding mode last season and that should pay dividends this time around. Look for a much-improved D to take charge until the offense kicks in. They host Akron and Ohio and the rest of their divisional schedule looks winnable with road games against weaker opponents. Expect a huge rebound for the Golden Flashes this season.

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Miami (Oh.) O:5 D:2
The Redhawks of Miami University have won or shared three straight MAC East Championships and had 12 straight winning campaigns. But that could all end this season as they field the least experienced team in the MAC and Miami's most rookie-laden team since 1995. A veteran QB and Offensive Line are gone but RB Brandon Murphy and WR Ryne Robinson, who've been huge for the Redhawks over the years, are back. Overall, the offense will have a tough year. On Defense, the front seven is very green but the secondary looks solid. A standout on Special Teams should be returning punter Jacob Richardson and WR Ryne Robinson, who could become the NCAA's leading punt returner of all time, with only 259 more yards to go. The Redhawks will have a rough ride this year but the talent they do have could start to blossom by the season's end. They'll have to work hard to continue their streak of winning seasons.

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Ohio Bobcats O:9 D:9
The Bobcats won just four games last season - the same as 2004. On a positive note, the arrival of Head Coach Frank Solich gave both the program and the Bobcats fan base a boost. It was a bit of a rebuilding year, with players learning Solich's philosophies and schemes on both defense and offense. But this season sees a whopping 18 returning starters, which could mean a winning season. On Offense, the top six rushers are back as are the two best WRs. The Offensive Line is loaded with veterans and there's been a big improvement at QB with Illinois transfer Brad Bower. Expect the Bobcats to easily beat the pathetic 18 PPG they averaged a season ago, and maybe even return to the glory days of 2000, when the offense put up more than 31 PPG. On Defense, 14 of their top 17 tacklers return, led by one of the MAC's best LB corps. They will cut down the PPG from the 30 PPG last season. The Bobcats have a favorable schedule and, with little separating teams in the MAC East, they could squeak into the MAC Championship game. No matter what, with this just the second season in Solich's tenure, he'd no doubt be satisfied with a +.500 record for the first time since 2000.

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by: Anthony White - - Email Us

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