August 25, 2010
MAC Conference Report
Can Temple keep rolling after a breakout 2009? Is Bernard Pierce Heisman material? Will Eastern Michigan win a game?'s 2010 conference reports continue with Lee Feiner's MAC breakdown.
How They'll Finish
EAST Conference Overall
Temple 7-1 9-3
Ohio 6-2 8-4
Kent St. 5-3 7-5
Buffalo 3-5 4-8
Akron 2-6 3-9
Bowling Green St. 2-6 2-10
Miami (Ohio) 1-7 1-11
WEST Conference Overall
Northern Illinois 7-1 9-3
Central Michigan 6-2 7-5
Western Michigan 5-3 6-6
Toledo 4-4 5-7
Ball St. 3-5 5-7
Eastern Michigan 1-7 1-11
Conference Championship: Temple def. NIU
Offensive MVP
Bernard Pierce
2009 Season Stats: 236 carries, 1,361 rush yards, 16 touchdowns
2010 Projected Stats: 290 carries, 1,650 rush yards, 19 TDs
Despite starting just nine games in 2009, Pierce set a Temple record with 16 touchdowns to go along with 1,361 rushing yards, earning First Team All-Mac and MAC Freshman of the Year honors in the process. Pierce is an All-America, Doak Walker Award and Heisman candidate in 2010 -- if he can stay healthy. The back missed three games in 2009, but is capable of matching Mark Ingram's Heisman-winning numbers from '09 (1,658 yards, 17 TDs on 35 more carries than Pierce) if he plays a full season.
Defensive MVP
Noah Keller
2009 Season Stats: 155 tackles, 9 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FF
2010 Projected Stats: 140 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 6 sacks, 3 INT, 2 FF
After posting monstrous numbers in '09, Keller enters the '10 season on the Nagurski watch list. Temple DE Adrian Robinson, the reigning MAC defensive player of the year, could challenge Keller for conference honors. But though Robinson is a disruptive force on the line, he'll likely see a steady dose of double teams and chip blocks after his breakout sophomore campaign. Keller, on the other hand, is free to operate in space and will remain in the Nagurski discussion as long as he stays healthy.
Three Key Nonconference Games
Temple at Penn State
Saturday, September 25
Penn State, the big brother in this intrastate rivalry, leads the all-time series 35-3-1, and has won every contest since 1941. But in all sibling rivalries, there comes a time when the little brother hits a growth spurt. The Nittany Lions return only five starters on defense and will start an inexperienced QB, and a Temple team that returns all offensive starters might just be "Temple Tuff" enough to pull off the upset.
Ohio at Ohio State
Saturday, Sept. 18
Noon ET
Ohio will likely receive a good-old-fashioned beatdown in this Week 3 tilt at the Horseshoe, but getting their i's dotted by the class of the Big Ten might be a blessing for the Bobcats, who will need to be firing on all cylinders to avoid a midseason slipup in conference play.
Kent State at Boston College
Saturday, Sept. 11
3:30 p.m. ET
If Kent State hopes to emerge from the shadows cast by Ohio and Temple, it'll need to deliver a strong performance against ACC contender Boston College. That task will be made easier thanks to the return of running back Eugene Jarvis, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after lacerating his kidney in the BC game last season.
Conference Game of the Season
Ohio at Temple
Tuesday Nov. 16
8 p.m. ET
This meeting will likely decide which team represents the East in the MAC championship game. Ohio rode a core of young players to the East crown last year, and the roster is still dripping with talent. But the Bobcats will have to contend with a Bernard Pierce-led Temple team that could carry a national ranking come game time.
Did You Know?
New Central Michigan coach Dan Enos has tabbed Ryan Radcliff as his starting quarterback heading into the fall. Enos isn't quite ready to anoint Radcliff as Dan LeFevour's successor for the entire season, but it's currently Radcliff's job to lose. Radcliff has plenty of ability as a passer, but he can't scramble like LeFevour, so don't expect to see as many designed runs from CMU this season.
Buffalo is in the process of Cincinnati-fying its offense, and first year head coach Jeff Quinn has been particularly thrilled with his four returning offensive line starters, who have transformed their bodies to the point where they can handle a faster pace of play.
Ohio coaches have instructed their quarterbacks to throw the ball up to Terrance McCray, a freakish athlete with a 6-foot-4 frame and long arms, whenever they diagnose McCray in single coverage on the outside.

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