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2011 MAC conference report

MAC 2011 Conference Report
Can Temple stay Golden? How will the West be won? Is Eastern Michigan ever going to escape the cellar? Matt Dollinger tackles that and much more in his 2011 MAC preview.
 
How They'll Finish
 
EASTConferenceOverall
Ohio6-29-3
Miami (Ohio)5-37-5
Bowling Green5-36-6
Temple4-45-7
Kent State3-55-7
Akron3-55-7
Buffalo2-63-9
 
WESTConferenceOverall
Toledo7-18-4
N. Illinois6-28-4
W. Michigan5-37-5
C. Michigan3-54-8
Ball State2-62-10
E. Michigan1-73-9
Conference Championship: Toledo def. Ohio
 
Offensive MVP
 
WR
Jordan White
2010 stats: 94 receptions, 1,378 receiving yards, 10 TDs
2011 projection: 101 receptions, 1,280 receiving yards, 11 TDs
When the NCAA granted Jordan White a sixth year of eligibility, it also granted Western Michigan its biggest wish. White has been hounded by injuries, but put together his first healthy in 2010. It was record-setting. White racked up the most receiving yards (1,378) in school history and posted his biggest games against rivals Toledo (170 yards, 2 TDs) and Northern Illinois (180 yards, 3 TDs). With Juan Nunez (91 receptions) gone, White becomes the focal point of the Broncos' offense.
 
Defensive MVP
 
DE
Roosevelt Nix
2010 stats: 44 tackles, 10 sacks, 20 TFL, 2 FF
2011 projection: 50 tackles, 12 sacks, 18 TFL, 4 FF
The 6-foot, 240-pounder might not turn heads off the field, but he demands attention on it. Nix became the first true freshman in WAC history to win Defensive Player of the Year and was also named top freshman. After leading the league in sacks and tackles for a loss, Nix is unlikely to surprise opponents in 2011, but that doesn't mean they'll be able to slow him. Whether he's lining up at end or linebacker, Nix is as strong a force as there is in the MAC and will anchor the conference's best defensive line.
 
Three Key Nonconference Games
 
Penn State at Temple
Saturday, Sept. 17
Noon ET
Temple is a dismal 0-35-1 against Penn State since 1943. Is this the year the Owls finally beat their in-state rival? Probably not. But they are likely bowl-bound and boast one of their better teams in recent memory.
 
Ball State at Indiana
Saturday, Sept. 3
7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Playing in Indianapolis at neutral Lucas Oil Stadium, Ball State will attempt to spoil Kevin Wilson's debut and upset the Hoosiers after coming painfully close to a victory in 2006 only to lose on a fourth-quarter field goal.
 
Northern Illinois at Kansas
Saturday, Sept. 3
7 p.m. ET
First-year head coach Dave Doeren returns to Lawrence, Kan., where he served as the Jayhawks' linebackers coach from 2002-05. Northern Illinois downed Minnesota on the road last season and could be positioned for another big nonconference win this year.
 
Key Conference Game
 
Northern Illinois at Toledo
Tuesday, Nov. 1
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Northern Illinois spanked Toledo with a 35-point beatdown last season, but the home team has won the last four meetings by an average of 29 points per game. This year, its Toledo's turn to host; is it also the Rockets' turn to win the MAC West?
 
Three Key Questions
 
Can Steve Addazio keep Temple 'Golden'? With former Temple coach Al Golden now at Miami, Florida's former offensive coordinator takes over and tries to build off two straight winning seasons. Before 2009, Temple hadn't had a winning season in almost two decades.
How will the West be won? The conference's three-headed juggernaut of Toledo, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois will fight for the division title. With all three schools poised for big seasons, this could be the most competitive MAC race in years.
Can Eastern Michigan escape the cellar? The Eagles haven't won more than four games since 1995 and are 2-22 under third-year head coach Ron English. Eastern begins the season with two winnable games at home, but then travels to Michigan and Penn State, followed by a difficult conference slate.
 

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