The MAC should be another fun conference to follow during the upcoming college football season. The usual suspects are going to be atop the mix, namely Northern Illinois and Toledo, but there are some intriguing squads that could throw a wrench into that. There's always some value when it comes to win totals and over/unders in this conference. Let's take a look at what FanDuel's sportsbook thinks about the MAC.
Over 3.5 wins +110...Under 3.5 wins -130
Non-Conference Games: at Illinois, UAB, Troy, at UMass
Tom Arth takes over for Terry Bowden in Akron. Arth inherits seven starters back on offense with Kato Nelson under center. Nelson's WR corps is pretty good if he can get them the ball. It's a bad sign when the QB with 303 yards also is the leading returning rusher. This side of the ball needs to be good because the defense was gutted by graduation. There's one returning starter back on each level. The Zips also have to find a new kicker and punter. It could be a long year.
Verdict: Slight lean to the under at this price.
Bowling Green Falcons
Over 3 wins -108...Under 3 wins -108
Non-Conference Games: Morgan State, at Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, at Notre Dame
A team that allowed 40 points per game is going to make road trips to Notre Dame and Kansas State in matchups that may see each home team put up 60 or more. Bowling Green's defense ranked near the bottom in FBS in three of the four major categories (Falcons were sixth against the pass) and this unit could take a step back with just three starters returning. Longtime offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who has held that position at Temple, Auburn, Virginia Tech and most recently, Boston College, gets his first shot at being a head coach. He has a lot of work to do with a team that struggled to run the ball and averaged 24 points per game. Loeffler also is looking for a starting quarterback following the late transfer of Jarret Doege, who went to West Virginia. This could be a really long year for Loeffler and the Falcons.
Verdict: I see at most two wins so I like the under here.
Over 6 wins -125...Under 6 wins +105
Non-Conference Games: Robert Morris, at Penn State, at Liberty, Temple
This team is going to look a lot different with Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson now trying to make in the NFL and K.J. Osborn gone after transferring to Miami. The offense is now going to be in the hands of either Kyle Vantrease, Dominic Johnson or Matt Myers. Running back Jaret Patterson is coming off of a 1,000-yard season as a freshman and will likely be the focal point of the offense. Head coach Lance Leipold is having to deal with a lot of roster turnover due to early NFL exits, graduations, and transfers. The defense has just two starters returning and also must replace tackling machine Khalil Hodge at linebacker. There's no question the Bulls will take a step back after going 10-4 last season. It's just a matter of how much regression to expect.
Verdict: I came up with six wins so no play here.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Over 4 wins +140...Under 4 wins -165
Non-Conference Games: at Arizona State, Kennesaw State, at Auburn, at Wisconsin
Kent State is going to have a rough early stretch with three straight road games against Power 5 teams. The Golden Flashes lost to Illinois, Penn State and Ole Miss on the road last year by a combined 81 points. Kent State averaged 24 points per game last season, which was part of improvement across the board on that side of the ball under first-year head coach Sean Lewis, and the offense returns eight starters. Woody Barrett has a chance to put up some big numbers thanks to a solid receiving corps, but he will need to cut down on the interceptions. The defense struggled last season dealing with a new scheme and needs to do a better job of stopping the run limiting the big plays. The Golden Flashes showed some signs of growth last season and that should continue this fall.
Verdict: I agree with the line move. The under is correct.
Over 6 wins +160...Under 6 wins -190
Non-Conference Games: at Iowa, Tennessee Tech, at Cincinnati, at Ohio State
Miami went 6-6 last year but it wasn't enough to secure a bowl invite. The RedHawks return a total of nine starters so they will need some new faces to step up. There will be a new quarterback running the show, and the options include true freshman Brett Gabbert, who is the brother of NFL signal-caller Blaine. Whoever gets the starting nod will have a group of talented, yet largely unproven, skill position players around him and an experienced offensive line protecting him. This offense could struggle early but show growth later in the season. The defense loses its leading tackler in linebacker Brad Koenig but there's enough talent and experience returning that there may not be much drop-off, if any, on that side of the ball. Miami's schedule could be what keeps the RedHawks out of the postseason once again.
Verdict: The money move is correct here. This team is not winning six games.
Over 7.5 wins -165...Under 7.5 wins +140
Non-Conference Games: Rhode Island, at Pittsburgh, at Marshall, Louisiana
It would be a massive upset if the Bobcats didn't at least win the MAC East title. This is not a team without question marks, but one definitive answer is the return of All-MAC quarterback Nathan Rourke. He's the leading returning rusher as well, but that's not a bad thing. Rourke will have to get on the same page with an offensive line that will feature three new starters and find some new go-to targets in the passing game. The defense should be strong though with seven starters returning and a heavy junior and senior presence throughout the depth chart. There will be a new defensive coordinator as Ron Collins replaces Jimmy Burrow (father of LSU QB Joe), who retired. The good news is that Collins has been on head coach Frank Solich's staff for eight years, so it should be a relatively seamless transition. Ohio also should be strong on special teams.
Verdict: I think this team wins eight or more games so the money move is correct.
Ball State Cardinals
Over 4 wins -108...Under 4 wins -108
Non-Conference Games: Indiana, Fordham, FAU, at NC State
Ball State has nine starters back on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals were so bad last year so it won't matter unless these players improve. QB Riley Neal (Vanderbilt) and RB James Gilbert (Kansas State) both took the grad transfer route and left. Now the quarterback job figures to belong to Drew Plitt, who put up some nice numbers when given the opportunity last season. He has a good set of wide receivers to throw to led by Justin Hall and Riley Miller. The defense has to stiffen after giving up 32.4 points per game in 2018. The front seven is littered with seniors. Ball State has just two home games in the first half of its schedule.
Verdict: I have three or four wins here. Slight lean to the under.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Over 4 wins EVEN...Under 4 wins -120
Non-Conference Games: Albany, at Wisconsin, at Miami, New Mexico State
The days of Dan LeFevour are long gone for the Chippewas. But Tennessee transfer Quinten Dormady could open some eyes this season and if anything, should offer more production than CMU got from the position last season. He won't lack for options at wide receiver or running back but needs some guys to emerge and carve out definitive roles. On defense, new head coach Jim McElwain has four starters returning from a unit that finished second in the MAC in both yards and passing yards allowed last season. The losses on that side of the ball include two cornerbacks who left early for the NFL, the team's leading tackler and best pass rusher. McElwain needs a lot of help for his team to be competitive.
Verdict: I've got four wins here so no play.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Over 6.5 wins +115...Under 6.5 wins -135
Non-Conference Games: at Coastal Carolina, at Kentucky, at Illinois, Central Connecticut State
It's an ambitious start to the season with four of the first five on the road including two against Power 5 schools. EMU's defense has three members of the secondary back and that's it. The Eagles led the MAC in three of the four major defensive categories last season but that probably won't happen again this year. On offense, Shaq Vann will continue to carry the load in the backfield and EMU is hoping junior college transfer Mike Glass III can build on what he did when he was on the field last season. He has a decent group of WRs to throw to.
Verdict: I agree with the money move to the under.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Over 7 wins +140...Under 7 wins -165
Non-Conference Games: Illinois State, at Utah, at Nebraska, at Vanderbilt
Rod Carey left for Temple, so former NIU running back Thomas Hammock has returned to his alma mater and looks to keep the Huskies' successful run in the MAC going. It all starts at quarterback where Cal transfer Ross Bowers could unseat holdover Marcus Childers atop the depth chart. The running game is in good hands with Tre Harbison and Marcus Jones set to share the carries and Spencer Tears projected as the No. 1 wide receiver. The offensive line needs to replace a couple of key pieces but returns three starters. The defense has seven starters back from a unit that was among the MAC's best in every major category but passing yards allowed per game. NIU has to move on without All-American defensive end Sutton Smith but is in good shape at linebacker with Antonio Jones-Davis and Kyle Pugh back to anchor the middle.
Verdict: I have six or seven wins for this team so no play on the total.
Over 8 wins +125...Under 8 wins -145
Non-Conference Games: at Kentucky, Murray State, at Colorado State, BYU
Toledo hosting Northern Illinois in mid-November could decide the winner of the West division, as it did last season. Toledo's offense will probably be led by quarterback Mitchell Guadagni, who will be throwing to a reshuffled receiving corps following the graduation of Cody Thompson. Overall, the Rockets return eight on offense and have a pair of solid running backs to rely on. The numbers may not be as gaudy as last year (40.4 ppg, 443.8 ypg) but Toledo should remain formidable on offense. It's the defense that could be a question mark with five starters returning from a unit that gave up more than 30 points per game. Head coach Jason Candle also has to replace Jameson Vest, the school's all-time leading placekicker.
Verdict: I like the over at this price. Toledo could win nine games.
Western Michigan Broncos
Over 7.5 wins -102...Under 7.5 wins -115
Non-Conference Games: Monmouth, at Michigan State, Georgia State, at Syracuse
Year three under Tim Lester could be the best one yet for WMU. The offense should be able to put up points with Jon Wassink under center and LeVante Bellamy in the backfield, although some new targets need to emerge after Jayden Reed's decision to transfer to Michigan State and D'Wayne Eskridge being moved to cornerback. Keep an eye on Jaylen Hall as well as tight end Giovanni Ricci. The offensive line is almost intact so there's no excuse for the Broncos to not at least match the 32 points per game they averaged last year. Practically everyone back is on defense and hopefully, that experience will lead to improvement after giving up nearly 35 points per game last season. It's an aggressive defense that occasionally gets burned by that approach. WMU draws Toledo and Northern Illinois on the road.
Verdict: I like the over here.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.