Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nationâ€™s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
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UCF and Boise State dominate the conversation when it comes to the top Group of 5 team. Lost in all of that is the fact that the MAC had the best G5 team just two years ago. Thatâ€™s right, Western Michigan represented the G5 when they faced Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. This conference remains one of the best in terms of entertainment. Not only because they play games on Tuesday nights in November, but some of these offenses are electric. Once again, itâ€™s the usual suspects at the top, but it could be difficult for any of them to make a New Yearâ€™s bowl game.
OTHERS: Sun Belt, CUSA, MW, AAC, IND, PAC 12, BIG 12, B1G, ACC, SEC
Terry Bowden brought this program from three consecutive one win seasons to an eight win team in his tenure. Unfortunately for him, that one year was the peak. Now, heâ€™s gone, and new coach Tom Arth tries to fix things. Their schedule isnâ€™t daunting by any means, but itâ€™s not a walk in the park either (nonconference includes Illinois, UAB, and Troy).
Bowling Green Falcons
I think the Falcons wonâ€™t make it the national stage because no one wants to see their color combination. Orange and brown isnâ€™t exactly enticing to the viewers. They also lost quarterback Jarret Doege to West Virginia, so Scot Loeffler find himself in need of a playmaker.
Lance Leipoldâ€™s 109-6 record at UW-Whitewater shows what heâ€™s capable of in terms of reloading. After netting 13 wins in his first three seasons, Leipoldâ€™s Bulls exploded for 10 last year. To be honest, it was a big disappointment that they didnâ€™t make a run for the NY6, and three of their last four games resulted in losses. Leipold must now find a new quarterback (Tyree Jackson turned pro early) and replace his top two receivers (Anthony Johnson graduated and KJ Osborn transferred to Miami). Running back Jaret Patterson gives Buffalo a dangerous weapon, and itâ€™s going to be tough to bet against this team despite their losses.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Remember when your fantasy team consisted of anyone who was facing Kent State? Yeah those days are still here. They might be, however, slowly going away. Sean Lewis has the team headed in the right direction. The Golden Flashes lost four games by one score last year, including the opening game against Illinois. Quarterback Woody Barrettâ€™s fun to watch at times, but (like his team) itâ€™s not all of the time.
Chuck Martinâ€™s doing a solid job thus far with the Redhawks program. Too bad life sucks for his team in the first month of play this season. Iowa, Cincinnati, and Ohio State all present themselves on the schedule (hello, 1-3 start), and Miami starts conference play with Buffalo, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois (yikes).
Nathan Rourke is the quarterback you are not paying attention to, and itâ€™s costing you an entertaining week of college football. Itâ€™s also costing your fantasy team. He accounted for 38 touchdowns last year, including 15 on the ground. Ohio will compete for a conference title again this year thanks to their quarterback.
Ball State Cardinals
What do you do when your top quarterback and running back transfer? No, really, what do you do? Ball State lost Riley Neal (Vanderbilt) and James Gilbert (Kansas State) this offseason, and thatâ€™s production you donâ€™t just replace easily.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Jim McElwain went from Colorado State to Florida, then to Michigan, and now Central Michigan. The stories we heard out of Gainseville werenâ€™t great, so he needs to do some work to repair his image as head coach. That could take a while with this team. Iâ€™m not saying theyâ€™ll struggle with Albany in Week 1, but Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin may break some records the next week. Miami also awaits in Week 4.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Did Chris Creighton stabilize the program? It seems after sandwiching a 5-7 season with two 7-6 seasons, the Eagles are leveling out. Creightonâ€™s done tremendous things with this team, something that not many coaches could do. It still seems like seven wins remains the bar, though, so donâ€™t hold your break for anything spectacular.
Northern Illinois Huskies
If youâ€™re a betting person, you wonâ€™t lose many bets on the Huskies making the postseason. Northern Illinoisâ€™ missed a bowl game just once since 2007. This team wonâ€™t be any different. Five players return to a defense that finished 11th in rush defense last year, and six on offense return (including quarterback Marcus Childers). A new coaching staff enters the picture, but this machine keeps running regardless. If last yearâ€™s 8-6 team can win the MAC and beat Buffalo, this team can go places too.
An offense that finished ninth in scoring is looking for new receivers. Granted, their are weapons everywhere to reload offensively. Toledo finished 7-6 last year, and are considered one of the favorites to win the conference. Playing Kentucky first doesnâ€™t help but, then again, the Wildcats wonâ€™t be the same as they were last year. A Toledo upset there would be hilarious and incredible. They just better hope their offense outscores everyone this year.
Western Michigan Broncos
Remember when PJ Fleck leaving the program was almost a death sentence? After leading the Broncos to a 13-1 season, Fleckâ€™s departure spelled doom for this program. Tim Lester did things his way, and now has one of the best teams in the MAC. LeVante Bellamy is a stud, and this offense could surprise teams this year. After ending the year with a 49-18 thud, the Broncos are once again ready to prove their doubters wrong.
Toledoâ€™s talent is there, and a bounce back season seems inevitable after winning just seven games last year. An NY6 season could be a stretch, but the talent is there to pull it off.