I know everyone here is focused on the Ravens; but we are also, only about twenty days away from the start of the college football season. As I’ve stated before, growing up in a college area with no pro sports teams, my sports clock revolves around the NCAA seasons. I am gearing up for what should be another great football season. I will begin the previews with the lesser known conferences and work my way up the the ones you care most about.
Today we will look at the MAC, Conference USA, and the home of my hometown team (WKU) the Sun Belt. None of these teams will be playing in any important BCS games, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in some exciting games in October and November.
FINAL SUN BELT STANDINGS
1. Middle Tennessee State
3. Florida Atlantic
4. Florida International
5. Arkansas State
6. North Texas
8. Western Kentucky
9. Louisiana- Monroe
Middle Tenn and Troy will fight it out for the league title. They are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. The two Florida schools will fight it out for third and one may possibly sneak into a bowl game. It won’t happen immediately, but new Western Ky coach Willie Taggart is bringing a new level of recruit onto campus. Watch out for the Toppers in 2012.
Offensive MVP: Dwight Dasher, QB Middle Tenn St.
Defensive MVP: Marcus Bartels, SS Florida Atlantic
Best TE in the league: Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky
Best ILB in the league: Michael Lockley, Florida Atlantic
Top Assistant: Jeremy Rowell, DC Troy
Dwight Dasher is the top spread option QB’s you’ve never heard of. If he can play all season like he did in the New Orleans Bowl, you’ll hear about him. I had to give some props to Jack Doyle. Now that my Toppers have an actual throwing QB in Matt Pelasasa, Doyle will blossom into a star.
MAC FINAL STANDINGS
1. Bowling Green Central Michigan
2. Ohio U. Northern Illinois
3. Temple Western Michigan
4. Miami (OH) Toledo
5. Buffalo Ball State
6. Kent State Eastern Michigan
Championship Game: Bow. Green over C. Michigan
Dan Enos will be dropped into pressure immediately. Central Michigan expects to win now, and they have a deep and talented team. What they don’t have is Dan LeFevour. I think he can get them through his division, but will be kept from the conference crown by the Falcons. I think Dave Clawson is one of the best non-BCS coaches in the country and he will get the best out of his Bowling Green program in his second season at the helm.
Offensive MVP: Chad Spann, RB Northern Illinois
Defensive MVP: Noah Keller, LB Ohio U.
Best TE in the league: David Blackburn, Central Michigan
Best SS in the league: Davonte Shannon, Buffalo
Top Assistant: Mark D’Onofrio, DC Temple
Noah Keller is a beast in the middle of the field for Bobcat coach Frank Solich. He hits like a train and may find a place for himself on Sundays. Temple DC D’Onofrio has assembled a scary defense at former wasteland Temple. It’s his defense that allowed the Owls to make their first bowl game in about 3,000 years last season.
FINAL C-USA STANDINGS
1. Southern Miss Houston
2. Central Florida UTEP
3. Marshall Tulsa
4. East Carolina SMU
5. Memphis Rice
6. UAB Tulane
Championship Game: Houston over Southern Miss
Case Keenum is tired of playing in lesser bowl games. This year he won’t have East Carolina standing between him and at least the Liberty Bowl ( maybe more if they are 12-1). Houston is the easy pick for league champs, but after that it is very dicey. Once you throw out the riff raff like Tulane, UAB, Memphis, and Rice. The other seven teams all can make a case for second best in the conference. A key will be how Marshall and East Carolina react to their new coaches.
Offensive MVP: Case Keenum, QB Houston
Defensive MVP: Bruce Miller, DE Central Florida
Best TE in the league: Clay Sears, Tulsa
Best ILB in the league: Marcus McGraw, Houston
Top Assistant: Herb Hand, OC Tulsa
I see some deja vu in the individual awards. Keenum and Miller picked up this hardware last year and I see them continuing their excellence. Keenum will likely have some all-time NCAA records by the time his season is through. Keenum wins this easily, but it should be noted that C-USA has some other quite good QB’s at Tulsa, UTEP, C.Florida, Southern Miss and Marshall. They just didn’t throw for 5,671 yards and 44 TD’s last year.
We’ll head out West for the next edition. See you then.