Three storylines in the MAC stand out this year, revolving around Toledo, Northern Illinois and Kent State.
Can Toledo can repeat as champions when it seems so obvious that they are the clear-cut favorite? Will Northern Illinois rebound from a disastrous 3-9 campaign after winning the previous year's title? What is the ceiling for a Kent State team with just 4 returning and a new head coach?
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com is in almost complete agreement with the MAC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The only differences are the flipping of the predicted 3rd and 4th-place teams in both divisions.
Toledo returns all of its top skill position players from a year ago, and most of the defensive standouts. Thus, the Rockets enter Jason Candle's 9th season as head coach with great expectations of capturing a third conference title on his watch.
No team has gone back-to-back in the MAC since Northern Illinois in 2011 and 2012. The Huskies have five conference crowns since 2010 and three more appearances in championship games that they lost. They played in every championship game from 2010-2015, and three different head coaches led the school to double-digit win seasons from 2010-2014 - Jerry Kill, Dave Doeren, and Rod Carey.
Kent State lost head coach Sean Lewis to Deion Sanders' staff at Colorado where he'll be the offensive coordinator.. The Golden Flashes were 17-14 over Lewis' first three seasons, and lost to NIU in the 2021 championship game. They slipped a bit to 5-7 in 2022. Lewis' departure was met with an exodus of nine all-MAC selections, including four first-team members with last year's starting QB, Colin Schlee, now at UCLA.. Enter Kenni Burns (Coaching Changes) who gets his first head coaching gig at the age of 39 after serving as the assistant head coach and running backs coach at Minnesota since 2019.
Meanwhile, Ohio looks like it is once again the team to beat in the East division to give us a complete rematch of last year's championship game that the Rockets won 17-14. It hasn't been that long since we've had back-to-back championship matchups in the MAC, as Northern Illinois and Bowling Green did it for three straight seasons from 2013-2015.
2 Teams tied at 4-4. Central Michigan beats NIU
|Champion votes in parenthesis
CHAMPIONSHIP: Toledo over Ohio at Detroit, MI