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The big 2014 MAC football previews, from UMass to the contenders

Bill Connelly breaks down every team in America's favorite underdog conference, one by one and with the aid of advanced stats. Follow along! SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

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13 Total Updates since February 26, 2014
  • Important 13
  • Articles 13
  • All Updates 13

NIU's giant, obvious question mark

Most of Northern Illinois' recent strengths will get stronger in 2014; the skill units are overflowing with options, the offensive line is fantastic, and the linebackers are strong. But the defense will still be sketchy, and there's still the matter of one of the best players in MAC history leaving.

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Toledo prefers depth over star power

Matt Campbell's third Toledo squad has as much depth and potential as any in the conference, but will the loss of quite a few stars prevent the steady, consistent Rockets from ending a decade-long run without a conference title?

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The pieces fit for Bowling Green

Dino Babers inherits a Bowling Green team that might be perfectly suited for his up-tempo offense and aggressive defense. The run defense might prevent his Falcons from being a slam-dunk MAC favorite, but one has to like the chances of a repeat.

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Ohio freshens up

Under Frank Solich, Ohio has established a higher level of play than at any time in its FBS history, but with frustrating November collapses in each of the last two years. We'll see if the Bobcats can find traction in 2014, or if this season's main purpose is to build toward 2015.

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Lembo's Cardinals are flying

Pete Lembo is one hell of a program pilot, but as he enters his fourth year as Ball State's head coach, he faces a pretty stiff challenge: life without quarterback Keith Wenning. If a quarterback emerges and the defense can stay healthier than it did last year, the Cardinals could again challenge for the MAC title.

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WMU's Fleck is an ace recruiter, unknown coach

WMU's 2014 recruiting class might be the best in MAC history, but that might not mean much for a 2014 Bronco squad that is completely rebuilding at the skill positions and in the defensive front seven.

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CMU attempts a turnaround

The Dan Enos era will not be one of mystery for much longer. The Chippewas return about as many starters as any team in the country, including a star at wide receiver. Can they take advantage and crack .500 again?

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Kent State, the MAC Mad Libs team

Kent State's win total dropped from 11 to four in 2013, and now the Golden Flashes must replace a couple of truly unique, talented stars. Depth is decent, however, and if they withstand a brutal early schedule, they could approach bowl eligibility.

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Buffalo rebuilds, again

Jeff Quinn's fifth Buffalo squad returns 12 starters, including the quarterback, from the program's second eight-win FBS team. But the Bulls lose almost all of their star power as well, and only a cake-soft schedule gives them a shot at another bowl.

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RedHawks rebuild again

The Cradle of Coaches hasn't had much hiring success of late. Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin will look to turn around this once-successful program, but it might take him a little while.

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Akron is zipping right along

For the first time in almost a decade, Akron seems to be building something. Terry Bowden might need one more year to get the Zips into the MAC's upper echelon, but they are relevant and exciting, and if they pull an early-season upset, look out.

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EMU and the law of the price tag

Last year wasn't any fun for EMU, on or off the field. The goal for new head coach Chris Creighton will be to restore direction, enjoyment, and some sense of momentum for a program that doesn't tend to have much of any of those things.

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It can't get any worse for UMass

In replacing Charley Molnar, UMass went with a coach who not only has a lot of experience, but has experience coaching at UMass. Mark Whipple returns to Amherst for his second go-round as head Minuteman. Godspeed, coach.

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