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2015 Hustle Belt football poll released

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Will the Battle of I-75 be coming to Detroit in December?

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

With the coaches' and media polls being released today before MAC Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit kicks off, our contributors and editors have taken a preseason poll of our own to see what we predict as to how the 2015 football season will turn out. We've already gone through and picked every winner of all 104 regular season games that we'll be watching this year (and are still submissions if you'd like to play along!), but it's also fairly old-fashioned to get to the skinny of our predictions.

STANDINGS

Standings have been averaged out by the ballots received from the Hustle Belt staff. The numbers within the parenthesis are the total number of first place votes each team received.

East West
Bowling Green (13) Toledo (6)
UMass (1) Northern Illinois (4)
Ohio Western Michigan (4)
Akron Ball State
Buffalo Central Michigan
Kent State Eastern Michigan
Miami

Bowling Green was a near-unanimous decision to be the MAC East champions by our voters while there were more arguments over deciding the MAC West champions. The Falcons earned 13 first place votes with one first place vote going to UMass. With Toledo earning the most first place votes and no ballots had Northern Illinois finishing lower than third in the West, the Broncos ended up being picked third in the division. No ballot had Bowling Green finishing lower than second in the East.

MAC CHAMPIONS

Voters also picked the MAC Champions after deciding what the final standings would look like. Where's the fun in picking the standings if we're not going to pick the winner of the big game in Detroit anyways? Here's who our voters picked would be MAC Champions at season's end from the team with the most picks to the team with the least amount of picks.

Toledo (6)

Northern Illinois (3)

Western Michigan (3)

Bowling Green (2)

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Averaged out by our voters, here are the top five offensive players in the MAC heading into 2015 as voted upon by our staff.

Kareem Hunt (RB- Toledo)

Matt Johnson (QB- Bowling Green)

Jarvion Franklin (RB- Western Michigan)

Blake Frohnapfel (QB- UMass)

Drew Hare (QB- Northern Illinois)

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Averaged out by our voters, here are the top five defensive players in the MAC heading into 2015 as voted upon by our staff.

Jatavis Brown (LB- Akron)

Jovan Santos-Knox (LB- UMass)

Trent Voss (DE- Toledo)

Paris Logan (CB- Northern Illinois)

Nate Holley (S- Kent State)

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

This was maybe the hardest to evaluate. Having not seen too much of the incoming freshman in the respective MAC classes outside of some highlight films and reading some hype here and there, I will present the top ten most popular names submitted by our voters in alphabetical order by last name.

Dixon, Antwan (WR- Kent State)

Goulborne, Kadeem (WR- Western Michigan)

Hawkins, Johnathan (RB- Buffalo)

McFadden, Kendrell (DB- Miami)

McRae, Juantez (S- Kent State)

Ragland, Gus (QB- Miami)

Tears, Spencer (WR- Northern Illinois)

Thurmon, Kevin (DT- Ball State)

Tranquill, Justin (CB- Western Michigan)

Williams, Deontai (S- Ohio)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Averaged out by our voters, here are who our voters believe will win the MAC Coach of the Year in 2015. Here are our top 3 picks.

Matt Campbell (Toledo)

PJ Fleck (Western Michigan)

Mark Whipple (UMass)

DARK HORSE TEAM

Lastly, everybody went around and picked who the "dark horse" team will be this year. While many of our voters have included teams like Ohio, Kent State, Miami and even Eastern Michigan all getting some love here as possible teams to do better than expected to, it's almost no surprise that there were an overwhelming amount of picks for the UMass Minutemen to be the MAC's "Dark Horse" team of 2015.