Life without football is almost over. Life without English football is officially over today, as the Barclays Premier League kicks off at 7:45 a.m. with Swansea taking on Manchester United on NBC Sports Network. More and more Americans are starting to follow the league and they're looking for a team to root for. With MAC football as our guide, let's attempt to compare your favorite MAC football program with the appropriate Barclays Premier League side.
Akron/Swansea City- Both teams are historically bad, save one good season in which they almost seemed like contenders for a title. The Zips and Swans are beginning to turn their fortunes around behind fairly new coaches (Terry Bowden and Garry Monk) and will hope their new coach will lead them to a trophy/bowl game.
Ball State/Everton- Both have been solid teams over the past few of years, especially Everton last year with a surprise 5th place finish. Both teams have enjoyed their best football under their fairly new coaches, but after the improvement of teams around them, both teams look uncertain to see their place in the league, especially BSU with the loss of Keith Wenning.
Bowling Green/Manchester City- With Manuel Pellegrini returning to champions Man. City and the Falcons coming off a MAC Championship, both teams look poised to repeat for the title this season. But as everyone knows, when you're at the top, everyone wants to knock you off and both teams should watch for tough competition waiting to dethrone them.
Buffalo/West Ham- Both have had their struggles after the past few seasons. Buffalo has only had two winning seasons since joining Div. I in 1999 but one of those was last year, so things are looking up. Similarly, "Big Sam" Allardyce promising to play a more attacking style of football after his teams the past few seasons have played a rather-boring, defense-oriented style can only be seen as an improvement. It could be a decent year for both sides moving in a positive direction.
Central Michigan/Stoke City- CMU was one of the best teams in the MAC 60 years ago when they had Dan LeFevour but now struggle to reach .500. That problem is similar to Stoke, who since returning to the Prem, have struggled to get out of the mid-table wasteland. The main problem for the Chips is that their coaches keep getting hired by bigger schools; Stoke's is that it has a solid team but consists of mostly individual performers.
Eastern Michigan/QPR- Both have been awful over the past few years, with EMU's crowning achievement being a 6-6 record one year. But with Harry Redknapp squarely back in the driver's seat at Loftus Road, things may be looking up, but tough competition around the league, for both teams, means it's not looking good for either side.
Kent State/Southampton- Both have had decent seasons in the past, albeit disappointing ones considering the amount of talent they had, but they will both need to be better if they want to compete in their respective leagues. Kent's run to the MAC Championship game seems like an eon ago instead of a couple years back and after selling what feels like the majority of the standout players at the club, Southampton has a tough job to try and stay in the upper-mid-table range this season.
UMass/ Sunderland- While the Minutemen were just "promoted" to Div. I and Sunderland have been in the Premier League for a couple years, both squads look like they need major help finding their footing in a difficult conference/league. UMass will drop from the MAC in a couple years; will Sunderland do the same and move back to the Championship?
Miami/Tottenham- Both always have a solid team but appear to be living in the shadows of their former superstars, for Miami that is Ben Roethlisberger and for Spurs it's Gareth Bale. And despite encouraging signs from both camps, it looks like it'll be a disappointing year for both squads. They also have a major rivalry with another team in their league, but more on that later.
Northern Illinois/Chelsea- Self-explanatory really. Both teams are the class of their leagues and consistently challenge for championships every year. Despite the loss of star players Jordan Lynch and David Luiz, they each will be contending for the championship this season.
Ohio/Arsenal- Perennially good each year, despite a down year last season due to an injury to a major player/a host of players as was the Gunners case. Arsenal had a nine-year trophy drought before winning the FA Cup last year, and the Bobcats have only won one MAC Championship. Things appear to be getting better for each side, especially since both Arsene Wenger and Frank Solich don't appear to be going anywhere after long tenures with their teams. Arsenal's chief rival is Tottenham, which in our case aligns with Miami. See how it all works out?
Toledo/Liverpool- Another seemingly ever-present contender who can never seem to win a trophy. After a heart-breaking campaign where the Reds saw their title chase slip through their fingers in the 11th hour, they will be hoping for a more successful year as will the Rockets.
Western Michigan/Manchester United- Okay, so this one is a little off-base, because despite having a down year, Man U is going to be pretty solid this year. But let's not give the satisfaction to the Red Devil-faithful, who are almost as annoying as bandwagon LeBron fans, and let's just say these two are the same. Anyways, both are typically good.
So, enjoy the Premier League kickoff and hopefully all of you World Cup converts that have turned to the Prem as a source of the greatest football on Earth enjoy the new season. And for the MAC football fanatics, let's hope for an exciting and competitive race for the MAC Championship this season.
Do you have a new team or title predictions for either the MAC or the BPL? Let us know in the comments below.