MAC Odds, Predictions, Betting Preview 2022 College Football

In 2021, the Northern Illinois Huskies won the Mid-American Conference for the fifth time in eleven seasons and are among the favorites to win the championship again. Can Rocky Lombardi lead his team back to the mountaintop? In this article, I will break down each MAC team’s strengths and weaknesses, make a prediction on the over-under on their win total, and discuss conference championship odds.

MAC Betting Preview & Odds

While Northern Illinois won the championship last year and has the most championship appearances in conference history, they aren’t even considered the favorite in their division, as the Toledo Rockets are the favorites to win the championship. The West also has Central Michigan and Western Michigan with championship aspirations. The Chippewas are a team to watch, with running back Lew Nichols III returning as the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year.

In the East, Kent State will hope to return to the championship for the second straight season, but this time come away with a win. Their top competition in the division is Miami, the team with the second-best odds of winning the championship. Kent State lost quarterback Dustin Crum but returns all-star wideout Dante Cephas while Miami returns all-star quarterback Brett Gabbert. Beyond those two, there isn’t a serious threat to the championship, but the MAC is known for producing Cinderella stories.

Toledo Rockets

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-6
  • Head Coach: Jason Candle
  • Key Players: QB DeQuan Finn, WR Devin Maddox, DE Jamal Hines, DE Desjuan Johnson
  • Key Losses: RB Bryant Koback, WR Isaiah Winstead, CB Samuel Womack, LB Jonathan Jones
  • Key Transfer: LB Deshawn Holt
  • Game to Circle: at Northern Illinois, October 8

Toledo is the favorite in the MAC for this season, but the team’s record hasn’t matched its talent level in recent years, as it’s just 24-20 over the last four seasons. The 7-6 record in 2021 featured five losses in one-score games, and it’s time for Jason Candle’s roster to deliver on the promise of preseason expectations.

Sophomore quarterback DeQuan Finn returns after registering 2,549 total yards and 27 touchdowns in his freshman season. Finn led the Rockets to the best offense in the MAC with 33.4 points per game and only threw two interceptions to 18 passing touchdowns as he contributed to his offense registering the fewest turnovers in the FBS. Finn will pass to Devin Maddox, last year’s leader with 41 catches, who was an all-star receiver and return man.

Finn’s offensive line lost two all-stars in Bryce Harris and Vitaliy Gurman, but all-star caliber blocker Nick Rosi returns from a missed 2021 season to injury. The group should be excellent, particularly in run-blocking for the duo of Jacquez Stuart and Micah Kelly, who return after combining for 564 yards on an efficient 5.4 YPC clip. They take on more prominent roles following the departure of Bryant Koback, who had 1,734 yards from scrimmage last year.

Toledo’s defense was also excellent as it led the MAC in scoring defense with just 21.8 points per game allowed. However, the Rockets ranked dead last in college football in penalties on defense with 130, 32 of which were for first downs. Eight starters return on defense, including lights-out pass-rushers Jamal Hines (9.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss) and Desjuan Johnson (4.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss).

The secondary lost two All-MAC First Team players, Samuel Wormack and Tycen Anderson, but the safety duo of Maxen Hook and Nate Bauer combined for 150 tackles and return. Dyontae Johnson returns after an all-star season with 86 tackles at linebacker, and he’s joined by Jackson Barrow, who’s set to take on a more significant role after the loss of Jonathan Jones.

Toledo’s talent isn’t in question – this is arguably the best team in the conference on paper. However, games aren’t won and lost on paper, and this team has struggled to get out of its own way. Four of their five regular season losses came by a total of 11 points, including a three-point loss to Notre Dame, and the season ended with a seven-point loss to Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl. It’s time for Toledo to break through, and they’re due for positive regression in several areas. I’ll bank on the talent finally winning this year.

Best Bet: over 8 wins, bet to win the MAC at +300

Central Michigan Chippewas

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 9-4
  • Head Coach: Jim McElwain
  • Key Players: RB Lew Nichols III, QB Daniel Richardson, WR Dallas Dixon, LB Kyle Moretti
  • Key Losses: WR Kalil Pimpleton, OT Luke Goedeke, OT Bernhard Raimann, DT Troy Hairston
  • Key Transfer: WR Carlos Carriere
  • Game to Circle: at Toledo, October 1

Things are going pretty well for Central Michigan under Jim McElwain, with a 20-13 record overall and a 15-7 clip in the MAC over the last three years. The Chippewas closed the 2021 season with wins in seven of their previous eight games, including a win over Washington State in the Sun Bowl. Central Michigan hopes to take the final leap and win the conference, but it won’t be easy as five of the team’s six All-MAC First Team selections are no longer on the roster.

Lew Nichols III returns as an All-American candidate at running back. He was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2021, registering over 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 18 total touchdowns. Nichols will be running behind an offensive line in transition as fellow All-MAC First Team selections Luke Goedeke and Bernhard Raimann were drafted in the NFL.

Central Michigan also returns quarterback Daniel Richardson who improved as the year progressed in his first season as a starter. He finished with 2,633 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to just six interceptions. The losses of Kalil Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan hurt – they combined for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns – but Dallas Dixon returns after registering 687 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Joel Wilson also returns as one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the conference – he had 367 yards and six touchdowns in 2021.

The defense is likely where the Chippewas face more issues despite pacing the MAC against the run and leading the country in tackles for loss in 2021. Leading tacklers Gage Kreski, Devonni Reed, and Troy Brown are gone after combining for 217 stops. Kyle Moretti will be relied on heavily in his sophomore season after registering 48 tackles as a freshman.

Central Michigan’s pass defense let them down as they ranked ninth in the conference and gave up too many big plays. That won’t change much with the loss of leading pass-rusher Troy Hairston (eight sacks, 16 tackles for loss). However, John Wesley Whiteside returns after a 6.5-sack season, and Donte Kent returns after leading the team with 14 pass defenses.

The schedule works out nicely for Central Michigan as they should be 2-2 through non-conference play with losses to Oklahoma State and Penn State along with wins over South Alabama and Bucknell. The Chippewas avoid Miami and Kent State, the projected top two teams in the East, although they do have to play road games against Northern Illinois and Toledo. While the losses on both sides are significant, I’ll put my money on Jim McElwain and Lew Nichols III, helping to deliver another strong season in Mount Pleasant. Fire up Chippewas!

Best Bet: over 7.5 wins, bet to win the MAC at +450 or better

Northern Illinois Huskies

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 9-5
  • Head Coach: Thomas Hammock
  • Key Players: QB Rocky Lombardi, WR Trayvon Rudolph, DE Devonte O’Malley, S C.J. Brown
  • Key Losses: RB Jay Ducker, RB Clint Ratkovich, LB Lance Deveaux
  • Key Transfer: WR Shermar Thornton
  • Game to Circle: Toledo, October 8

The MAC is known for providing opportunities for rapid turnarounds for its members, and Northern Illinois epitomized that last year. Thomas Hammock won the MAC Coach of the Year award as he led one of the most improved teams in the country to a conference championship. The Huskies’ record went from 0-6 in 2020 and 5-13 in Hammock’s first two years to 9-5 last season as they returned to the championship game.

The transfer of Rocky Lombardi from Michigan State paid dividends last year as he led the offense to 32.2 points per game. Lombardi is a solid passer who had 2,597 yards with 15 touchdowns to eight interceptions, but it’s the run game where he differentiates himself – he averaged five yards per carry and scored nine rushing touchdowns in 2021. Trayvon Rudolph, Lombardi’s favorite target, returns after leading the team with 51 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Huskies lost their leading rusher, Jay Ducker, who won MAC Freshman of the Year and compiled over 1,100 yards, to the transfer portal. Fullback Clint Ratkovich is also gone after scoring 13 touchdowns. Still, Harrison Waylee and Antario Brown return after combining for over 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns, and the Northern Illinois offensive line should remain elite with the returns of all-stars tackle Nolan Potter and guard Logan Zschernitz.

The Northern Illinois defense held the team back from being even better as it allowed 33.7 points per game, finished 115th in the FBS in total defense, and ranked tenth and eleventh in the MAC against the run and pass, respectively. More takeaways would make the defense’s life easier – they only generated nine fumble recoveries and three interceptions in 2021.

All-MAC-caliber linebacker Kyle Pugh returns for his eighth year with the program after missing all last season with an injury. He’s joined by third-leading tackler Nick Rattin, who finished with 70 tackles, six for a loss. The secondary returns two standout talents in Jordan Gandy (team-leading ten pass defenses) and C.J. Brown (team-leading 107 tackles). Devonte O’Malley also returns after leading the team with four sacks.

Northern Illinois has significant returning talent on both sides of the ball, and there should be an expectation of improvement for a young defense. Seven of the team’s wins came by just one score last year, and that can be viewed as a positive or a negative depending on how you spin it. I choose to look at the resiliency of that group, and I’ll happily bet on the Huskies repeating last year’s success with another strong season despite some challenging games on the schedule.

Best Bet: over 6.5 wins

Kent State Golden Flashes

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-7
  • Head Coach: Sean Lewis
  • Key Players: QB Collin Schlee, WR Dante Cephas, DE C.J. West, S Dean Clark
  • Key Losses: QB Dustin Crum, WR Keshunn Abram, OL Bill Kuduk, CB Elvis Hines
  • Key Transfer: DE AJ Campbell
  • Game to Circle: at Miami, October 8

Sean Lewis is the class of the MAC coaching ranks, but his team’s 7-7 finish in 2021 was disappointing, given the talent on offense. Still, the program has turned around considerably as Kent State is coming off its first three-year run without a losing record since the early 1970s.

The Kent State offense has quickly become the best in the MAC under Lewis and will likely still be elite despite the loss of Dustin Crum, the program’s second-most quarterback in program history. Crum had almost 4,000 combined passing and rushing yards last year and 32 total touchdowns as he led an offense that ranked fourth in the country with nearly 500 yards per game. Collin Schlee takes over at quarterback after showing flashes in limited snaps in 2021.

Schlee will have the benefit of Dante Cephas, the best receiver in the conference, who finished with 82 catches for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Ja’Shaun Poke and Devontez Walker are solid prospects for more prominent roles in the passing game – they combined for over 1,000 yards last season.

The offensive line is replacing three starters, losing two All-MAC linemen, Bill Kuduk and Nathan Monnin. Still, it should be solid in run-blocking in front of a dynamic backfield tandem of Marques Cooper and Xavier Williams. Those two backs combined for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

Kent State’s defense held the team back from taking advantage of a particular offensive season as it gave up more first downs than anyone in the country and was the worst unit in the MAC. New defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson has a lot of work to do, and it starts with fixing a run defense that allowed over 200 yards per game.

C.J. West returns to headline the front seven, while there are high hopes for A.J. Campbell, a transfer from UCLA who provides more juice off the edge. More pass-rush production would boost the secondary that returns leading tackler Dean Clark (116 stops). The team’s next seven leaders in tackles are all gone, though. Montre Miller returns as a solid corner who led the team with four interceptions.

As has been the case for Kent State in recent years, the non-conference schedule is brutal, with road games against Washington, Oklahoma, and Georgia. A likely 1-3 start with a win over LIU mixed in will leave the Golden Flashes with little margin for error the rest of the way. Luckily, this high-flying offense gives them a chance against everyone else in the conference. If the defense can progress even a small amount, Kent State will be a championship contender again.

Best Bet: over 5.5 wins, bet to win the MAC at +900

Miami RedHawks

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-6
  • Head Coach: Chuck Martin
  • Key Players: QB Brett Gabbert, WR Mac Hippenhammer, LB Matthew Salopek, LB Ty Wise
  • Key Losses: WR Jack Sorenson, DE Kameron Butler, DE Lonnie Phelps, LB Ivan Pace Jr.
  • Key Transfer: DE Corey Suttle
  • Game to Circle: Kent State, October 8

Chuck Martin has taken the RedHawks to new heights as a program, and their three straight winning seasons included a MAC Championship in 2019. Now, Miami must prove that it can return to the top of the conference while withstanding the losses of six of its nine all-star representatives from last year.

Miami had one of the most efficient passing offenses in the country last year, with Brett Gabbert finishing on the All-MAC Third Team. Gabbert led an offense that generated almost 3,600 passing yards and 32 touchdowns between him and backup AJ Meyer. While leading receiver Jack Sorenson is gone after an All-MAC First Team season with over 1,400 yards and ten touchdowns, Mac Hippenhammer becomes the top wideout after a 786-yard season.

The RedHawk offensive line was among the best in the country as it allowed just 21 sacks and ranked tenth in the FBS in fewest tackles for loss allowed. That unit returns four of five starters. The run game should be highly effective behind that line with a four-pack of rushers returning in Keyon Mozee, Kevin Davis, Kenny Tracy, and Tyre Shelton – they combined for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The defense is a much more significant question mark as it lost a ton of key pieces from the unit that ranked second in the conference in points allowed. The pass-rush could take some time to gel as Lonnie Phelps (Kansas) and Kameron Butler (Virginia) left for Power Five programs after combining for 16.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss. Corey Suttle (Iowa State) transferred in to start at the edge.

The defense also lost its leading tackler, Ivan Pace Jr., who left for Cincinnati after an All-MAC First Team campaign that featured 125 tackles, 13 for a loss, and four sacks. Ty Wise transfers in from Indiana to help, and Matthew Salopek returns after ranking second on the team with 112 tackles. The secondary also has new starters from the transfer portal in Nolan Johnson (East Carolina) and Michael Dowell (Michigan State) at cornerback and safety, respectively.

The argument for the over is simple – Miami will still be an excellent offensive team with Gabbert perhaps the best quarterback in the MAC, and the RedHawks had four of their six losses last year by a total of nine points. However, Miami lost several key pieces on defense, and the schedule isn’t kind, with no back-to-back home games all year. The roster is worse than the one that won just six games in the regular season, so I’ll take the value on the under here.

Best Bet: under 6.5 wins

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-6
  • Head Coach: Chris Creighton
  • Key Players: QB Taylor Powell, WR Hassan Beydoun, DE Jose Ramirez, LB Tariq Speights
  • Key Losses: QB Ben Bryant, K Chad Ryland, P Jake Julien, LB Terry Myrick
  • Key Transfer: QB Taylor Powell
  • Game to Circle:

Chris Creighton has led a massive turnaround in the Eastern Michigan program with four bowl appearances in the last six years. He’s still looking for his first bowl win, and the Eagles are just 1-5 in bowl games all-time. However, Eastern Michigan won more than four games just once from 1996 to 2015, and Creighton’s team has surpassed that number in each of the last five seasons outside of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.

Former Troy and Missouri passer Taylor Powell likely starts over as the starting quarterback for an offense that averaged 30.2 points per game as Ben Bryant returns to Cincinnati. Powell threw for 1,251 yards and seven touchdowns to six interceptions in six appearances for Troy last year. He’ll benefit from an offensive line that returns its top four players, including All-MAC selections Sidy Sow and Brian Dooley.

Powell will be throwing to arguably the best receiving corps in the MAC. Hassan Beydoun returns after an All-MAC Second Team season with 97 catches for 1,015 yards and four touchdowns, while Tanner Knue and Dylan Drummond combined for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

The run game needs to improve this year as the Eagles averaged just 2.96 yards per carry (YPC) in MAC games. When they ran for over 125 yards, they were 6-0, and they were 1-6 in the games they failed to do so. Samson Evans and Darius Boone Jr. return after combining for 767 yards and 19 touchdowns, but they combined to average just 3.8 YPC.

Eastern Michigan needs to improve after allowing 29.5 points per game against MAC opponents, but it helps that five starters return. Jose Ramirez leads the front after registering 6.5 sacks and eleven tackles for loss last year. Leading tackler Tariq Speights returns after a 90-tackle season.

I don’t usually discuss special teamers in these articles, as year-to-year volatility is more prevalent. Still, it’s worth noting that Eastern Michigan is replacing kicker Chad Ryland and punter Jake Julien, both of whom were All-MAC selections. The Eagles had three wins by a combined five points last year, and those games could become losses with worse special teams’ play.

Eastern Michigan is replacing critical contributors on offense and special teams while working with an underwhelming defense. Chris Creighton has demanded respect throughout his time as the head coach, but I’m not betting on this team to hit seven wins in the regular season. I lean towards the under, but the heavy juice makes it a tricky proposition.

Best Bet: under 6.5 wins

Ball State Cardinals

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 6-7
  • Head Coach: Mike Neu
  • Key Players: QB John Paddock, WR Jayson Jackson, DE Tavion Woodward, LB Clayton Coll
  • Key Losses: QB Drew Plitt, WR Justin Hall, S Bryce Cosby, LB Jaylin Thomas
  • Key Transfer: DT Kyle King
  • Game to Circle: Northern Illinois, October 1

On the one hand, Ball State is 13-8 over the last two years, with back-to-back bowl game appearances and a surprise MAC championship in 2020. On the other hand, the Cardinals have seven losing seasons in eight years outside of that championship. Ball State had five All-MAC representatives, and none are still on the team, so there is a significant transition.

Quarterback Drew Plitt wasn’t in that All-MAC group, but the former three-year starter also needs to be replaced. Senior John Paddock is the frontrunner to lead the passing game, but he has just 34 pass attempts since 2018 and has never thrown a touchdown. Still, his experience in the system will be a plus. He’ll also benefit from a solid offensive line returning all five starters.

The skill-position talent is solid for Ball State. Carson Steele and Will Jones headline the ground game after combining for almost 1,500 yards from scrimmage and ten touchdowns. The receiving corps lost 61-catch Justin Hall, but Jayson Jackson and Yo’Heinz Tyler combined for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.

The defense had a strong 2021 season as rising star coordinator Tyler Stockton’s group allowed just 24 points per game in MAC contests. Six starters return, including the team’s top pass-rusher, Tavion Woodward, who led the squad with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. The defensive line lacks bulk, but Justen Ramsey and Jack Sape are reliable veterans.

The losses of All-MAC safety Bryce Crosby and linebacker Jaylin Thomas leave the defense down 220 tackles. However, the linebacker corps should still be a strength with Clayton Coll returning after a 104-tackle season that included 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. The secondary lost three starters, but senior Amechi Udozinma II is expected to have a big season after tying for the team lead with three pass breakups in 2021.

Ball State is untested, and the transition at quarterback to an inexperienced John Paddock creates a significant range of outcomes. The schedule is brutal, with Ball State’s final four games coming against Kent State, Toledo, Ohio, and Miami, three of which are on the road. Murray State and UConn are the only two opponents that are almost certainly won for the Cardinals, and it would take a few upsets to get to six wins, so I’ll take the under.

Best Bet: under 5.5 wins

Western Michigan Broncos

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 8-5
  • Head Coach: Tim Lester
  • Key Players: RB Sean Tyler, RB La’darius Jefferson, LB Corvin Moment, CB Dorian Jackson
  • Key Losses: QB Kaleb Eleby, WR Skyy Moore, DE Ali Fayad, DT Ralph Holley
  • Key Transfer: OT Eleasah Anderson
  • Game to Circle: at Ball State, September 10

Western Michigan has established consistency with its last losing season coming in 2013 and Tim Lester leading the team to six or more wins every full season since taking over in 2017. However, the Broncos have yet to break through with a championship, and they suffered a disappointing stretch with four MAC losses in a six-game span that derailed their season.

The Broncos had an excellent offense last year as they ranked 12th in the country in total yards and averaged 32.5 points per game. Kaleb Eleby was highly efficient and finished with 3,277 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to six interceptions. Whether it’s the former Alabama walk-on or one of the two redshirt freshmen, passing production will decline this season. That’s especially true with Western Michigan losing five of its top six receivers last year.

This team ranked top-five in the country in time of possession last year, thanks to a highly productive run game. Sean Tyler and La’darius Jefferson provide an excellent thunder-and-lightning combination that compiled over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns. The offensive line remains one of the best in the conference despite losing three starters, including All-MAC First Team center Mike Caliendo. Jake Gideon will likely take over at center, while Eleasah Anderson is a vital transfer who slots in at left tackle.

Western Michigan’s defense returns seven starters from the unit that led the conference in total defense with just 330 yards per game allowed. The linebacker corps is the group’s strength, with Corvin Moment, Zaire Barnes, and Ryan Selig returning with all-star aspirations after combining for 199 tackles and nine sacks.

The linebackers will likely be asked to produce more in the pass-rush after All-MAC First Team lineman Ali Fayad departed – he had 13 of the team’s 43 sacks in 2021. Western Michigan also added Bryce Austin from Purdue to help. The secondary should be solid with the return of Dorian Jackson, who led the team with 12 pass breakups and two interceptions, but the Broncos are due for regression after ranking second in the country in third-down stops.

The schedule is brutal for the Broncos, with three of their first four games on the road and their lone home game against a Pitt team out to avenge their loss from last year. Western Michigan also faces three opponents off a bye week this year. They won’t have the help of a highly efficient passing game or third-down defense, and they won’t repeat their six non-offensive touchdowns from last year. Expected regression across the board makes the under the clear bet.

Best Bet: under 6.5 wins

Buffalo Bulls

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 4-8
  • Head Coach: Maurice Linguist
  • Key Players: WR Quian Williams, OG Gabe Wallace, LB James Patterson, DT Daymond Williams
  • Key Losses: QB Kyle Vantrease, RB Dylan McDuffie, LB Kadofe Wright, CB Ja’Marcus Ingram
  • Key Transfer: CB Elijah Blades
  • Game to Circle: at Coastal Carolina, September 17

It’s been a downhill slide for Buffalo after a 6-1 season in 2020. That year, they made the MAC Championship, had a bowl win over Marshall, and seized their third straight winning season, but last year didn’t go according to plan. With an entire offseason to get his team into shape, Maurice Linguist will hope to bounce back from a 4-8 2021 despite only returning nine starters.

The offense will look different this year across the board as Rutgers transfer Cole Snyder will battle with Matt Myers for the starting quarterback position. They’ll have the luxury of throwing to All-MAC Third Team wide receiver Quian Williams, who had 64 catches for 835 yards last year. Buffalo also added Justin Marshall (Louisville) and Boobie Curry (Arizona) from the transfer portal.

The run game took a hit when leading rusher Dylan McDuffie transferred to Georgia Tech after compiling 1,172 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns last year. Ron Cook Jr. and Mike Washington headline an unproven running back room. Left tackle Gabe Wallace is the only returning starter along the offensive line, and that group could struggle.

The defense struggled overall, but there are positives for new defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey as his group returns six starters. The front seven is led by All-MAC First Teamer James Patterson, one of the best players in the conference who had 114 tackles, 12 for a loss, and four sacks in 2021. Daymond Williams joins him as a stout nose tackle and elite pass-rusher with 6.5 sacks.

The secondary should be aided by a handful of transfers, including Caleb Offord (Notre Dame), Jahmin Muse (Boston College), and Elijah Blades (Florida). Those transfers were necessary given the losses of Cory Gross and Ja’Marcus Ingram, but the secondary could still take some time to piece together.

The Bulls are unlucky to have three of their first four and five of their first seven games on the road, which could lead to a slow start to the season. Still, the floor should be four wins for Buffalo this season. A bowl appearance isn’t out of the question, but the unknown variables on offense lead me to lean towards the under for Buffalo this season.

Best Bet: under 5.5 wins

Ohio Bobcats

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 3-9
  • Head Coach: Tim Albin
  • Key Players: RB O’Shaan Allison, WR Tyler Walton, LB Bryce Houston, LB Cannon Blauser
  • Key Losses: RB De’Montre Tuggle, RB Armani Rogers, WR Cameron Odom, DE Will Evans
  • Key Transfer: DE Dontay Hunter
  • Game to Circle: at Kent State, October 1

The 2021 season was brutal for the Bobcats. Tim Albin took over the team following Frank Solich’s departure in mid-July, leaving him with a shortened offseason to get his team into shape. The three-win season was the team’s lowest total since 2003, although there is hope moving forward as four of the losses came by a touchdown or less.

Ohio’s offense struggled last year, scoring 22.6 points per game, ranking just 106th in the country. Kurtis Rourke is an accurate passer, but he struggled to generate the big plays needed to keep the offense flowing. Two of his top receivers, Isiah Cox (362 yards) and Cameron Odom (406 yards), are gone, but Tyler Walton returns after a team-leading 32 catches.

The run game is a question mark as leading rushers De’Montre Tuggle and Armani Rodgers are gone after combining for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns. O’Shaan Allison is the presumed lead back, but he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year and failed to score a touchdown. The offensive line also has to improve after an underwhelming season.

The Ohio defense has more pieces, with nine returning starters for new coordinator Spence Nowinsky. However, the unit allowed 30 points per game and only generated eight takeaways all season. The linebacker tandem of Bryce Houston and Cannon Blauser is one of the best in the conference – they combined for 190 tackles last year.

The secondary has intriguing pieces as Roman Parodie is a young playmaker and Taiq Drake and Alvin Floyd make up a solid safety tandem. However, the pass-rush generated just 17 sacks last season and lost leading sacker Will Evans who had 4.5 of those. Dontay Hunter transfers from Purdue as a defensive lineman who could help produce more pass-rush juice.

The 2021 season was an outlier for Ohio, and there is a solid bunch of talent in place as the program enters Tim Albin’s second season. The offense is still in transition and lacks true playmaking talent, but the defense is solid and should be due for positive regression in the turnover department. We should expect Ohio to have a much better season than last year, but I’d slightly lean towards the under, given the lack of dynamic offensive production.

Best Bet: under 5.5 wins

Bowling Green State Falcons

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 4-8
  • Head Coach: Scott Loeffler
  • Key Players: QB Matt McDonald, WR Austin Osborne, LB Darren Anders, S Jordan Anderson
  • Key Losses: DB Sy Dabney, DB Devin Taylor
  • Key Transfer: LB DJ Taylor
  • Game to Circle: at Akron, October 1

It’s time for Scot Loeffler’s Bowling Green to break through as he has just a 7-22 record through three years as the head coach. It wasn’t that long ago that the Falcons went to three straight MAC Championship games from 2013 to 2015, but they have just 16 wins in six years since.

This year’s improvement starts on the offensive end after the Falcons finished dead last in the MAC in total offense and scored 27 points once every year against FBS competition. Matt McDonald, a former Boston College transfer, was underwhelming at quarterback with just 12 touchdowns and 2,555 yards.

McDonald’s top targets from last season return in 2022. Austin Osborne led the team with 64 receptions, while Tyrone Broden was a dynamic deep threat who averaged 16.6 yards per catch and scored five times. Christian Sims also returns after registering 418 yards as a First Team All-MAC selection at tight end.

In the run game, Bowling Green returns its top three rushers – Terion Stewart, Nick Mosley, and Jaison Patterson – who were all freshmen last year and combined for over 1,000 yards. The offensive line also returns four starters, and the overall continuity on offense could be essential for improvement.

While the offense struggled, the Falcons finished fourth in the MAC in total defense and first in pass defense. The lights-out secondary lost starters Sy Dabney and Devin Taylor, but Davon Ferguson returns as a highly productive cornerback. Safety Jordan Anderson also returns after tying for the team lead with three interceptions in an All-MAC Second Team season.

Up front, Darren Anders returns after an All-MAC First Team campaign with 124 tackles, 9.5 for loss, and three sacks. Brock Horne joins him in the linebacker corps after his 89-tackle campaign. Karl Brooks leads the pass rush after a 2021 season in which he led the team with 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

Bowling Green is on the cusp of a breakthrough season with an experienced roster returning from a season that included narrow one-score losses to eventual divisional champions Kent State and Northern Illinois. The defense should again be one of the better groups in the conference, while the offense should be improved. With home games against Miami and Kent State providing upset opportunities, I’m following the sharp money on the over for the Falcons.

Best Bet: over 3.5 wins

Akron Zips

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win MAC:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 2-10
  • Head Coach: Joe Moorhead
  • Key Players: QB DJ Irons, RB Cam Wiley, LB Jeslord Boateng, CB Charles Amankwaa
  • Key Losses: QB Zach Gibson, WR Konata Mumpfield, IOL Bryce Petersen, OLB Michael Scott
  • Key Transfer: RB Cam Wiley
  • Game to Circle: at Ohio, October 8

It’s been a long drought for the Zips as their last winning season was in 2015, and their last bowl appearance was in 2017. Akron has just three wins over the last three years, two of which came against Bowling Green. However, this program has had an injection of life with solid transfers and new coaching.

Former quarterback Joe Moorhead returns as the new head coach after stints as an offensive coordinator and head coach across Penn State, Oregon, Fordham, and Mississippi State. Sam Popper, the new coordinator and director of player personnel, follows Moorhead from Oregon after helping the Ducks recruit their best class in program history in 2021.

The Akron offense struggled last year, but DJ Irons carries intrigue as he had over 1,000 combined passing and rushing yards along with ten touchdowns before a midseason injury. Leading receivers Konata Mumpfield and Michael Mathison left via the transfer portal, but sophomore tight end Tristan Brank returns after an All-MAC Second Team nod in 2021.

The Zips ranked last in the country in sacks allowed with a troublesome run game. The transfer of former Minnesota running back Cam Wiley should boost the run game as he averaged 6.2 YPC in the Big Ten last year. He joins Jonzell Norrils in what should be a much more productive backfield than the group that ran for under 1,500 yards in 2021.

The defense allowed 39.5 points per game, the most in the conference and the second-highest third-down conversion rate in the country. However, there should be confidence in new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar’s four-man front as the line added some serious size in Curtis Harper (Syracuse), Devon Robinson (Memphis), and Victor Jones (Wyoming) from the transfer portal.

That defensive line will be backed by linebacker Jeslord Boateng, who led the team with 79 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and two sacks. The secondary should also be a strength, assuming the pass-rush can improve. Charles Amankwaa led the team with three interceptions and nine passes defended, but keep an eye on the injury he suffered in the spring.

With 25 transfers and new coaching staff, the Zips should be rejuvenated and heading in the right direction. However, it’s challenging to find three wins on the schedule, especially with Bowling Green set for an improved season and looking to avenge its two straight losses to Akron. I’ll take the under here, but look for Akron to be on the come-up shortly.

Best Bet: under 2.5 wins

MAC 2022 Predictions

The consensus favorite in the MAC will be Toledo, as they have the most talented roster that features the returning DeQuan Finn and lights-out play in the trenches on both sides of the ball. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if Central Michigan finishes with a better record again this season as they return Lew Nichols III and Daniel Richardson. My biggest concern with the Chippewas, for the time being, is the loss of two all-star offensive linemen and their three leading tacklers. However, I like the current value on both teams to win the title as I believe they are the best teams in the conference.

Miami is projected to win the most games in the East, but I like Kent State to represent their division in the championship game for the second straight season. The loss of Dustin Crum hurts, but Dante Cephas returns alongside a superb offensive talent for head coach Sean Lewis. The Golden Flashes are at a significant value right now, given the loss of Crum and the brutal non-conference schedule. Still, I believe in Lewis’s ability to continue to make this team highly competitive.

Championship Prediction: Toledo Rockets over Kent State Golden Flashes

Favorite Over: Central Michigan over 7.5 wins

Favorite Under: Western Michigan under 6.5 wins

Biggest Sleeper Team: Kent State Golden Flashes

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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