As the 12 Mid-American Conference football programs move through their respected 2017-18 campaigns, The Daily News will give a recap and preview every week, running through the teams' previous opponents and looking ahead to the following week. MAC, Photo Provided
MAC football rundown: Season Preview
Each week throughout the football season, The Daily News runs through the Mid-American Conference, recapping the previous week and looking ahead to this week’s games.
The first week of the season brings a lot of questions left to be answered as the 12 Mid-American Conference programs begin their 2017-18 campaigns.
Here’s the MAC Rundown for Week 1 of the college football season:
Previous season: 5-7, 3-5 MAC
Preseason media poll: 4th MAC East (79 points)
Week 1 matchup: No. 6 Penn State
Akron opens up its season on the road against No. 6 Penn State on Sept. 2 at noon. Last season the Nittany Lions finished the season 11-3 (8-1 Big Ten), which included a 49-52 lost against the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl game.
While Akron returns eight offensive and six defensive starters, including quarterback Thomas Woodson and All-MAC First Team linebacker Ulysees Gilbert lll, Penn State is 30.5 point favorites entering the week one matchup.
Previous season: 4-8, 1-7 MAC
Preseason media poll: 6th MAC West (30 points)
Week 1 matchup: Illinois
Ball State also begins its 2017 campaign against the Big Ten affiliate, the University of Illinois. Illinois struggled in 2016, going 2-7 in the conference and 3-9 overall, which included a 34-10 loss to MAC west foe Western Michigan.
With most of the offensive line, quarterback Riley Neal and running back James Gilbert returning for the Cardinals, along with defensive starters like defensive end Anthony Winbush and defensive tackle Kevin Willis, the Cardinals are a 6.5 point underdog entering this matchup.
Previous season: 4-8, 3-5 MAC
Preseason media poll: 3rd MAC East (88 points)
Week 1 matchup: Michigan State
Bowling Green’s first opponent of the season is Michigan State, who finished 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten) last season after going 12-2 in 2015. Three of the Falcons four wins last season came at the end of the season.
Quarterback James Morgan returns for Bowling Green along with All-MAC First Team wide receiver Scott Miller alongside four other offensive starters along and six starters returns on the defense. Going into East Lansing, Michigan, the Falcons are predicted as 17 point underdogs.
Previous season: 2-10, 1-7 MAC
Preseason media poll: 5th MAC East (41 points)
Week 1 matchup: Minnesota
After winning just two games a season ago, Buffalo enters the season without last season's All-MAC running back and tight end along with losing a pair of starting receivers. What the Bulls do bring back, however, is redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson along with a lot of its offensive line.
The eight returning defensive starters will be key for Buffalo against Minnesota, 6-7 (2-6 Big Ten) last season, who is predicted as 26 point favorites entering the game.
Previous season: 6-7, 3-5 MAC
Preseason media poll: 5th MAC West (62 points)
Week 1 matchup: Rhode Island
Last season, Central Michigan finished 5th in the MAC West Division, and that’s where its been projected to finish again early on this year. Despite the second to last place finish in 2016 and losing four out of their last five regular season games last year, the Chippewas earned an invitation to the Miami Beach Bowl.
This Central Michigan team is one that beat No. 22 Oklahoma State a year ago and returns nearly its entire offense (9 players). However, the Chippewas do need to find someone to replace graduated quarterback Cooper Rush, as they enter week one against Rhode Island.
Previous season:7-6, 4-4 MAC
Preseason media poll: 4th MAC West (74 points)
Week 1 matchup: Charlotte
After nearly 30 years without a bowl bid, Eastern Michigan broke that streak in what ended up being one of the biggest turnaround seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision last year. The Eagles return starting quarterback Brogan Roback who finished with almost 2,700 passing yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Eastern Michigan opens up its season against Charlotte, who finished 4-8 (3-5 C-USA) last season, as 13.5 point favorites. The Eagles are one of the few MAC schools playing at home in week one of the regular season.
Previous season: 3-9, 2-6 MAC
Preseason media poll: 6th MAC East (36 points)
Week 1 matchup: No. 5 Clemson
After finishing second to last in the MAC a season ago, Kent State opens up its season against defending National Champions, Clemson Tigers. It's one of the toughest games featuring a MAC school in week one.
Kent State’s dynamic quarterback Nick Holley returns along with eight other offensive and seven defensive starters. One of the more experienced MAC coaches in Paul Haynes, who enters his fifth year with the team in 2017, will lead the Golden Flashes in week one at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.
Previous season: 6-7, 6-2 MAC
Preseason media poll: 2nd MAC East (129 points)
Week 1 matchup: Marshall
After starting the season 0-6, Miami went on six-game winning streak in the MAC, which included two games won by four points or less. Miami lost a close game to Mississippi State (17-16) in the St. Petersburg Bowl and open up this season against Marshall.
Miami received the most media preseason votes (12) to finish first in the MAC East, etching out Ohio (11). Along with starting quarterback Gus Ragland, the RedHawks return several experienced starters to this year’s team.
Previous season: 5-7, 5-3 MAC
Preseason media poll: 3rd MAC West (89 points)
Week 1 matchup: Boston College
Winning four of its last five games last season wasn’t enough to get a ninth-straight bowl bid for Northern Illinois. The Huskies seven losses last year included four by less than a touchdown, two of which coming in triple overtime.
The Huskies do, however, return five offensive and eight defensive starters to this year’s team. Northern Illinois opens up its season against Boston College, who finished 7-6 (2-6 ACC) a year ago.
Previous season: 8-6, 6-2 MAC
Preseason media poll: 1st MAC East (131 points)
Week 1 matchup: Hampton
Ohio’s 8-6 record was among the best in the MAC a year ago and had the potential to be even better. There wasn’t a single game where Ohio lost by more than 10 points, which included games against No. 15 Tennessee and No. 17 Western Michigan.
The Bobcats have the luxury of returning Frank Solich, who enters his 13th season as head coach in Athens, Ohio. Ohio enters the 2017 season returning eight offensive and six defensive starters as they prepare for their first game against Hampton.
Previous season: 9-4, 6-2 MAC
Preseason media poll: 1st MAC West (142 points)
Week 1 matchup: Elon
Toledo averaged 38 points per game last season en route to its nine win season. This year, the Rockets return a lot of pieces on both offense and defense, and are early favorites to win the MAC Championship.
Quarterback Logan Woodside enters his last season of play after leading Toledo’s offense to a school-record 517.8 yards per game and 45 touchdown passes last season. Toledo enters week one against Elon with some receivers and seven defensive starters returning.
Previous season: 13-1, 8-0 MAC
Preseason media poll: 2nd MAC West (107 points)
Week 1 matchup: No. 4 USC
There’s no question whether or not Western Michigan was the most prolific team in the MAC last season. In 2016, Western Michigan had a perfect season until it’s 16-24 Cotton Bowl loss to No. 8 Wisconsin. The Broncos season included a perfect MAC record along with a pair of wins against Big Ten opponents.
This year the Broncos will be without MAC Offensive Player of the Year in wide receiver Corey Davis, who finished with 5,285 career receiving yards and former head coach P.J. Fleck, who is now at Minnesota. The Broncos do, however, return a pair of experienced running backs and a veteran defensive unit entering week one against the University of Southern California.