Akron: The Zips went 4-8 last season, but they do have a very good duo of quarterback Kato Nelson and wideout Andre Williams to rely on. Nelson had 2,329 yards and 15 scores last year, while Williams added 46 catches and six touchdowns. Alvin Davis Jr., the Zips’ top safety, is expected to have a good season too. With that said, Akron should finish in the middle of the pack.
Ball State: Despite breaking even on their home field, going 3-3 last season, the Cardinals were abysmal on the road. They went 1-5 away from home and failed to reach a bowl game while finishing second to last in the division. Riley Neal has transferred to play for Vanderbilt, and Drew Plitt is the projected starter at quarterback. It might be another struggle for Ball State in 2019.
Bowling Green: Bowling Green limped to just 3-9 last season and while they should be a little better, it might not be good enough to reach a bowl game. The Falcons have struggled mightily since head coach Dino Babers left for Syracuse a couple of years ago and now that quarterback Jarret Doege has announced his transfer to West Virginia, Bowling Green is in another bad spot.
Buffalo: Tyree Jackson, the 2018 MAC MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, has moved onto the NFL, which leaves the Bulls in a tough spot. They are going to likely start Kyle Vantrease, who has some experience, but may take some time to get going. Buffalo has some talent on the roster, but it’s unclear if they’re going to be able to match their 10-4 record from last year.
Central Michigan: The Chippewas went 1-11 last year and ended the season on an eight-game losing streak. It was a tough year for the Chips after quarterback Shane Morris graduated at the end of the 2017 campaign. Quinten Dormady, the former Tennessee signal caller, will look to step in and save the program from another poor season, but don’t count on a huge improvement.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles earned their second bowl trip in three seasons and finished tied for second place in the MAC West with a 5-3 conference record. A year later, Chris Creighton and his team have their eyes on Detroit. Mike Glass III, the full-time starter now, along with star defensive back Kevin McGill Jr., they’ll look to lead this program to their fifth ever bowl appearance.
Kent State: After finishing with the second worst record in the entire conference, going just 2-10 for the season, the Golden Flashes have a lot they need to fix. Woody Barrett is a good building block after throwing for 2,339 yards in 2018, but there isn’t a ton beyond that. The offense will have to improve, and maybe running back Jo-El Shaw can help from the backfield.
Miami (OH): The Redhawks don’t have any experience at the quarterback position after Gus Ragland graduated, but they do have some top-tier pass catchers who should help the starter out. Jack Sorenson and Andrew Homer are guys to keep an eye out for because they could have breakout seasons. Wide receiver Sorenson compiled 742 yards and two touchdowns in 2018.
Northern Illinois: The defending MAC champions are in a bit of a pickle. They return quarterback Marcus Childers, who totaled 2,706 yards last year, but former California QB Ross Bowers is transferring in and could take over as the starter. Beyond that, running back Tre Harbison should have a great year. He ran for more than 1,000 yards and will look to lead the team to another conference title.
Ohio: Nathan Rourke is projected by many to be the best quarterback in the MAC, and if he has a good year, the Bobcats will be at or near the top of the conference. Rourke threw for 2,431 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season and has high hopes for his junior campaign. Ohio went 9-4 in 2018, but the team may be even better this time around. Watch out for the Bobcats to win 10+ games.
Toledo: The 2017 MAC champions went just 7-6 last season in a down year. Despite going 5-3 in the conference, the Rockets have high hopes for 2019 and expect to be in championship contention again. That starts with QB Mitchell Guadagni, who totaled 1,053 yards before going down with a season-ending injury last year. Defensive lineman Jamal Hines will be a major impact as well.
Western Michigan: Western Michigan has Jon Wassink back as quarterback, and if he can stay healthy, the Broncos should be on the right path to a first place finish in the division. That’s a big if, though, as Wassink has been injured two seasons in a row. He threw for 1,994 yards before hurting his ankle against Eastern Michigan. The Broncos should win 8+ games with a high-powered offense.