Conference realignment hit the Mid-American conference right where it hurts as perennial league power Marshall left for Conference USA. Fortunately, losing perhaps its most recognizable school comes at a time when the conference is at the height of its success in terms of football. The MAC placed a league record five teams in bowl games a year ago. Though only Bowling Green and Northern Illinois won their respective bowl contests, it was still a landmark achievement for the league. For 2005, there are only two established relationships with bowl games, but if things work out like last season, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s perceivable that another three or four teams could receive bids, as Toledo, and Miami Ohio have the talent to join last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s winning MAC bowl teams in the postseason. On a down note, the MAC went just 5-34 SU against teams from other 1-A conferences last season, poor by recent league standards.
There are a few key changes in the MAC this season that are worthy of note. The departure of Marshall, as well as Central Florida, left the league with 12 teams. While the MAC still qualifies to host a league title game with that number, the divisions did require some reshuffling. As such, Bowling Green now finds itself in the East Division where it should contend with Miami Ohio for supremacy. The Redhawks begin their first season under Shane Montgomery, as former Head Coach Terry Hoeppner left for the greener pastures of the Big Ten and Indiana. Elsewhere on the coaching front, Bill Cubit, a long time offensive coordinator with Western Michigan, returns there as head coach in 2005, and Ohio University hands its football program over to Frank Solich, the former embattled coach of Nebraska. Finally, on the playing field, most of the leagueÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s defensive standouts from 2004 are gone, but the return of QB Omar Jacobs of Bowling Green, QB Bruce Gradkowski of Toledo, and RB Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois, should be more than enough to sustain the leagueÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s star power.
Play On: Buffalo 11/5
This veteran Miami-O squad is 18-5 ATS as a home conference favorite and 14-5 against the number off a 2-game road trip.
Play Against: @ Kent State 9/17
The Redhawks travel to Kent State with a big in-state rivalry game with Cincinnati on tap. The visitor in the MAC match-up is 1-6 ATS.
Play On: Temple 10/1
The Falcons are 9-1 ATS off back-to-back road games. Bowling Green plans to give a hoot at homecoming against now independent Temple Owls.
Play Against: @ Miami-O 11/15
Bowling Green has not beaten the Redhawks since 1997. These Eastern Division rivals go at with a vengeance, with the Falcons 0-5 ATS.
Play On: @ Michigan State 9/3
The Golden Flashes have 7 starters back on each side of the ball and are 8-1 against the spread when a 10-28 underdog.
Play Against: @ Western Michigan 10/29
Kent State has lost 11 consecutive times to the Broncos with a 3-7 ATS record.
Play On: Central Michigan 10/1
Akron off a probable loss is 6-1 ATS in the 2nd of back to back home contests.
Play Against: @ Kent State 11/23
The home team is 0-7 ATS in what will be the season finale for these MAC East teams.
Play On: Pittsburgh 9/10
The Panthers will be off big home game with Notre Dame maybe unsettled coming into Athens. Ohio U. is 5-1 against the number with revenge on their minds.
Play Against: @ Bowling Green 10/8
The Bobcats visit Bowling Green armed with the knowledge that they are 4-8 SU and 3-9 ATS vs. the Falcons.
Play On: Ohio U. 10/29
These evenly matched teams compete for the MAC basement, has Buffalo 4-1 ATS against Bobcats.
Play Against: @ Syracuse 9/10
Buffalo surely has a speed problem on artificial turf with a 1-18 SU record. The stronger, faster Orangemen squeeze the Bulls and win decisively.
Play On: Northern Illinois 11/16
With this likely the battle for the MAC West crown, Toledo has had the Huskies number. The Rockets was won 11 straight and dominated NIU 9-1-1 ATS.
Play Against: @ Bowling Green 10/22
These top MAC teams conclude their regular seasonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s with this contest. The visitor takes it on the chin with a 0-7 ATS mark in this game.
Play On: Miami-O 10/5
NIU is 21-9 ATS in October and 11-4 vs. number the last three seasons at Husky Stadium.
Play Against: Toledo 11/16
Huskies are 1-16 all-time vs. Toledo and have covered once in 11 tries vs. the Falcons.
Play On: @ Toledo 10/8
The Eagles are 7-2-1 ATS over last decade against Toledo, with the Rockets being favored by an average by 19 points.
Play Against: Miami-O 10/22
Eastern Michigan could be worn down after trips to Toledo and Northern Illinois. Another top level MAC team will be too much for the Eagles to handle.
Play On: Kent State 10/29
The Broncos have won 10 straight against Kent State and hold a 7-3 ATS mark.
Play Against: @ Northern Illinois 11/22
The Huskies should have bowl implications for this game. Western Mich. is 2-13 ATS with revenge and 1-7 ATS vs. NIU.
Play On: Ohio U. 10/15
This homecoming game has the home team at 5-1 ATS and the Chippewas are 7-1 vs. the spread off a non-conference game.
Play Against: @Penn State 9/17
This over-matched team is 3-11 ATS on the road in non-conference contests.
Play On: Ohio U. 10/22
Ball State should be 0-6 coming into this game. With the Cardinals a probable road dog, against an equally bad Ohio U. squad, this might provide value since the visitor has covered 71% of the last seven games.
Play Against: @ Auburn 9/17
The Tigers can name the score in this home game. Ball State has only 9 seniors that could start. Auburn executes a 4th quarter cover in this SEC/ MAC match-up.