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Hustle Belt’s Preseason MAC Football Polls Released: Western Michigan Heavy Favorites to Win it All

Could this be the year both WMU & Ohio end their droughts to make it to Detroit?

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

MAC Media Day will be held at Ford Field, home of the MAC Championship game since 2004, tomorrow. Media members, including Jordan Rinard from Hustle Belt, will be in attendance to talk to MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, head coaches coaches and select players from all 12 schools as we’re all tapping our feet, waiting for September 1 to arrive. (Or the days following, depending on who you’re rooting for). MAC media outlets have already submitted their ballots to the conference for the official preseason polls, where those have already studied and now predict what they (myself included) believe the final outcome of the season will look like.

Here on Hustle Belt, 17 staff members have done the same, submitting ballots for an intra-blog MAC football preseason poll for the upcoming season.

East West
1 Ohio- 91 (8) Western Michigan- 95 (12, 11)
2 Bowling Green- 88 (7, 1) Northern Illinois- 82 (4, 2)
3 Akron- 67 (2, 2) Toledo- 66 (1, 1)
4 Buffalo- 49 Central Michigan- 61
5 Miami- 36 Ball State- 32
6 Kent State- 26 Eastern Michigan- 21

An overwhelming majority of the staff has picked Western Michigan to win the West and even win the big game at Ford Field this December with 11 votes. WMU received the highest point total of any team with 95 points. The Broncos haven’t been to the MAC Championship since the latter of their back-to-back appearances in 2000 in Gary Darnell’s fourth season as their head coach.

Behind WMU in total points is the Belt’s majority pick to win the East where the Ohio Bobcats had 91 points, receiving eight votes to win the division. Frank Solich is entering his 12th year as Ohio’s head coach and has won the division three times (2006, 2009, 2011) since hired in December 2014, but he hasn’t been able to claim a conference championship. The 17 voters did not think this would be the year for that to happen.

Northern Illinois, widely recognized as the program that’s gone to every conference championship since 2010, polled in second in the West with 82 points, four West-winning votes and two votes to win the championship. As the adage goes: why — oh why? — would you bet against the Huskies?

Bowling Green has been to the last three MAC title games to meet up with NIU, and they are a close second in our polls for their division. New head coach and staff and roster turnover are no secrets to us; BGSU finished with 88 points, seven votes to win the East and one to win it all.

So, no MAC title picks for our first place pick in the East, one for our second place pick, and two voters have a fun thought: Akron. The Zips are coming off of an 8-win season capped by a bowl win, and are our third place finish in the polls for the East division: 67 points and the two voters that picked them to win the division also picked them to win the MAC championship.

Toledo (66 points) and Central Michigan (61) both finished with 6-2 MAC records in 2015, much like NIU and WMU did, and came in at third and fourth in our poll for the West, respectively. Toledo had one pick to win the West & championship. Ball State (32) came in at fifth and Eastern Michigan (21) in last to round up the West.

The final three teams in the East did not receive any first place nods, as Buffalo (49), Miami (36) and Kent State (26) round up their division.