The Mid-American Conference has been won by the West Division the last three years and six of the last eight seasons. Who will take home the championship in 2019?
According to oddsmakers, Toledo is the favorite to win the title this season, as the Rockets are getting +225 odds. Other short odds to win are Ohio (+300), Northern Illinois (+500) and Western Michigan (+600).
Toledo was 7-6 last season with a 5-3 record in the MAC West, finishing a game behind NIU. The Rockets are in their fourth season under coach Jason Candle. The Rockets were top-10 in scoring last year, averaging 40.4 points per game. They return six on offense, including a solid line and QB Mitchell Guadagni.
Ohio was 9-4 last season with a 6-2 record in the MAC. The Bobcats finished tied for second in the East, one game behind Buffalo. Frank Solich is in his 15th season as head coach and the Bobcats return 12 starters after averaging 40.1 points per game in 2018. Nathan Rourke threw for 23 touchdowns last season and will lead the team this year.
Northern Illinois is the defending champions of the MAC. The Huskies were 8-6 on the season and 6-2 in conference play. NIU has won the MAC title four times since 2011. Northern Illinois wins ugly, as it averaged just 20.1 points per game while giving up 22.6 per contest last year. Twelve starters are back for NIU, including six on defense. NIU is always a threat.
Western Michigan was 7-6 last year and 5-3 in the MAC West. The Broncos were one of three teams a game behind NIU in the division. Western Michigan had a solid offense last year, but a poor defense in Tim Lester’s second year as coach. The Broncos have 16 starters back this year, including its entire left side of the line and its top skill-position players.
The West has ruled the MAC for the most part and that is why they have three of the top four favorites to win the conference. Toledo looks good on paper, but the Rockets haven’t been able to get the job done more often than not in the MAC. Northern Illinois has won the West seven times in the last nine seasons and the Huskies are consistent with their ability to win the big conference games. They have a new head coach, but the program has established its style of play and I don’t see that changing. I would jump on the Huskies at 5/1, as they have history on their side.
MAC Championship Prediction: Northern Illinois +500