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Misc The MAC The MAC Archive 2012 MAC Football Preview Part Three
Written by Mike Spinelli

Mike Spinelli

Football TCF 3Welcome back. In Part Three of the 2012 MAC football preview, we head East. In this episode, we cover Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Massachusetts. Next time we get together we'll cover Ohio and Miami, before wrapping it all up with Kent State and Akron.








The Bowling Green Falcons joined the football world in 1919, and joined the MAC in 1952. In that time they have won ten MAC championships and on national title in 1959 (in the then NCAA College Division). The Falcons finished 5-7 last year, and have not made a bowl game since 2009.

Head coach Dave Clawson is in his fourth year with the program, putting together a 14-23 record. His career record sits at 72-72 in seven years. His offense returns seven starters, including junior QB Matt Shilz. Matt connected on 61% of his passes for 2223 yards, and threw 8 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions. Matt is bigger and stronger than last year, and has a better understanding of the Falcon offense. Which will be important, it’s hard to stay in games while puking up over one INT per game. Tailback Anthon Samuel returns after his MAC Freshman of the Year season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry on 844 yards and he caught for 93. And the team has depth at that position. The wideouts are all first-time starters, with at least four gunning for the three starting spots. Michigan transfer Je’Ron Stokes, JUCO transfer Michael Allen, sophomore Heath Jackson, and junior Shaun Joplin should all get plenty of catches in Warren Ruggiero’s air-it-out offense.

On D, the Falcons return seven starters, but after giving up 27+ points in six conference games, is that a plus? The team plays a 4-2-5 defense led by DC Mike Elko, including DT Chris Jones and LB Dewayne Woods.

BGSU has depth at the talent positions, and perhaps the easiest schedule in the conference. They give up a lot of points, and give up a lot of interceptions. There’s room for improvement through experience on defense, and sophomore Anthon Samuel should only get better. I still don’t see this team finishing higher than fourth in the East. This will be their third straight season with a losing record.



Onto Amherst, New York, where the Buffalo Bulls roam. The University of Buffalo first played football in 1894, coming to the MAC in 1998. It’s been a long time since the Bulls won the MAC Championship in 2008, and haven’t had a winning record since. In 09 they went 5-7, head coach Turner Gill left, and his replacement Jeff Quinn has led the team to a 5-19 record since.

The Bulls have to replace their starting quarterback, junior Alex Zordich and redshirt frosh Joe Licata are the primary choices. Alex has nice size and speed, and is a potent runner, while Joe is the better passer. Whoever lines up behind center will have the MAC’s best running back Branden Oliver. He ran the ball 306 times for 1395 yards, both Bulls records. His 365 receiving yards was third on the team, and helped him break the school’s all-purpose yards records. Junior Alex Neutz returns as the top receiver, with first time starters Cordero Dixon and Fred Lee expected to fill the other two slots. The line returns four starters.

The defense returns seven starters, including All-MAC linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack finished third in the country in tackles-for-loss with 20.5. Other players of note are LB Lee Skinner and DL Steven Means.

This is a young team and has a lot of room for improvement. Oliver and Mack are going to be fun to watch, but this team is not ready for primetime. Not in 2012. If Terry Bowden kick-starts the Zips and their late transfers come through, Buffalo could wind up in 6th place.



 We end this portion of our preview in Foxboro, Mass, the new home of the Massachusetts Minutemen. The Massachusetts Agricultural College Aggies started play in 1879, and make the jump to the FBS and the MAC in 2012. Along the way they won 22 conference titles, and one national championship (1998).

Junior QB Kevin Pagel is expected   to get the nod at QB, battling true freshman AJ Doyle for the spot. If the Pagel name sounds familiar, it is. His father Mike Pagel played for the Cleveland Browns, along with the Colts (in both cities) and Rams. In other words, he played for the Browns, the team the Browns replaced, and in the city the Browns went to. That’s the most exciting thing about this offense, as tailback Alex Williams (or Michael Cox) and receivers Derek Beck, Chase Danska, and Andre Hill are all first time starters. Tight end Jerome Lewis could be the key receiver and is one of five returning starters on the line. New head coach Charlie Molnar is implementing the spread offense, even though the talent seems better suited for the pro-style.

The defense is anchored by ten returning starters, including LB Perry McIntyre and FS Darren Thellen. UMass switches to the 4-3 with multiple nickel packages. They hope to improve on an anemic pass rush with the new alignment.

Teams moving up to FBS have a very difficult time historically and UMass will be no different. Add a 5-6 FCS team to the fact that they play four BCS teams in their non-con schedule, and lose any home field advantage by moving two hours away, and you have a team buried in seventh place at 0-12. Welcome to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

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