2021 MAC College Football Preview and Predictions

August 24, 2021 by Staff

The MAC had just two bowl participants in 2020 and made the most of it by winning both as Ball State trounced San Jose State 34-11 in the Arizona Bowl, and Buffalo downed Marshall 17-10 in the Camellia Bowl. It was Ball State's first ever bowl win (1-7) and came in the Cardinals' 8th attempt. Meanwhile, the Bulls made a third straight bowl appearance and won their second in-a-row under Lance Leipold after going 0-3 before his arrival as head coach in 2015.

This year, the Congrove Computer Rankings have Buffalo taking a giant step back as Leipold departs for Kansas and Maurice Linquist takes over as head coach.  Leipold was 37-33 at Buffalo in 6 seasons. Over the last three season, his teams finished 24-10 and captured two MAC East titles. Linquist had been hired in January as Michigan's new defensive coordinator, but then received the head coaching offer from Buffalo. He spent the 2020 season as the DB coach with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. The 37-year-old has had a different place to work almost every year since beginning his coaching career in 2007 as a graduate assistant at Baylor, but he spent two seasons with the Bulls back in 2012 and 2013 as a DB coach, co-DC and recruiting coordinator.

Ohio is predicted to take the east division with a 3-game advantage over Miami (Ohio) and Kent State, despite the July retirement of Tom Solich. On Wednesday, July 14, Frank Solich announced his immediate retirement after 16 seasons in Akron citing health issues. Solich's long-time OC Tim Albin was immediately named as his replacement. Solich was 115-82 overall, 77-46 in the MAC. His career record was 173-101. He needed just 7 wins to pass Don Peden as the program's winningest coach.

In the west, Ball State and Western Michigan are expected to battle it out for the top spot with the Broncos prevailing by virtue of a home win over the Cardinals on October 9 in which they are favored by a scant 2.83 points.

Last year's preseason MAC forecast from the computer nailed the exact records of six MAC teams, both over-all and in conference play - Ohio, Buffalo, Miami, Kent State, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan. It came within 1 game on 3 others.

NAT'L MAC
RANK EAST W L   CW CL POWER SOS
25 Ohio 11 2   8 0 69.76 100
57 Miami (O) 7 5   5 3 71.81 98
69 Kent State 6 6   5 3 69.50 82
92 Buffalo 5 7   3 5 59.32 121
112 Akron 3 9   1 7 54.70 91
130 Bowling Green 0 12   0 8 39.06 99
 
RANK WEST  
39 Western Michigan 10 3   8 0 69.73 87
27 Ball State 10 2   7 1 69.89 103
63 Toledo 7 5   4 4 65.59 123
72 Central Michigan 6 6   4 4 66.53 80
90 Eastern Michigan 5 7   2 6 60.58 109
122 Northern Illinois 2 10   1 7 51.69 97
** - Ohio by 0.03 over Western Michigan