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Preview: Motor City Bowl

Background Info & History

There are three sponsors to the Motor City Bowl. As you might be able to infer, the Motor City Bowl takes place in Detroit so it only seems natural that the "Big 3" automakers, Chrysler, Ford, and GM all co-sponsor the event.

The history of the Motor City Bowl has its roots in the Cherry Bowl which only lasted a few seasons. A bowl game in Detroit was resurrected in 1997 and it was played in the Pontiac Silverdome until 2001. The first ever game in the bowl's history was a 34-31 win for Ole Miss against Marshall. As a matter of fact, after that loss, the Thundering Herd went on to win the next three Motor City Bowls. Probably the best Motor City Bowl game to this date was the Northwestern/Bowling Green game played in 2003 where Josh Harris led the Falcons to a 28-24 victory. The most recent game, in 2006 (which yours truly attended), CMU defeated at-large Middle Tennessee State in front of a 54,000+ record crowd.

CMU Storyline

You want to talk about schizophrenic football teams? Look no further than Central Michigan.

The Chippewas were downright awful against their non-MAC foes. The average score of their OOC games against Purdue, North Dakota State, Clemson, and Kansas was 52.75 to 14.25 (this doesn't count their victory against Army). In MAC games, CMU won on average 47.9 to 33.1. So something is screwy there.

Who knew Kansas was going to be so good? When I first saw that score, as a CMU fan, I began freaking out thinking that Butch Jones was a complete and total failure. I thought North Dakota State would beat Central Michigan, but the way they did it was extremely shocking. Let's just say CMU looked like a sinking ship.

Once MAC play was on the schedule, it was much smoother sailing for this vessel. The CMU offense cut through the helpless arm-tackling of lesser MAC defenses like a hot knife through butter on their way to a second consecutive MAC West title.

This team faced off against Miami OH for a MAC championship game. The RedHawks were hanging in there for a while, but you have to give the Central defense credit for playing the best defensive game all year.

Purdue Storyline

Another year, more failed expectations for Purdue.

Much of this is pinned on Joe Tiller. Speaking of Tiller, this is a homecoming for the head coach. He's from the Toledo area and used to be a big fan of the Detroit Lions who used to own the NFL which may come as a surprise to non-NFL historians.

Anyway, Purdue was a hot football team. They ran into Ohio State and Michigan, two teams the Boilermakers have been able to avoid for the last two seasons. The game against Iowa was the real litmus test as to whether or not the team was for real. Northwestern and Iowa got smoked so it looked like this team was on the right track.

Uh-oh. This is when Purdue took a turn for the worst. Penn State smothered the offense and controlled the game on both sides of the ball. Then, Brian Hoyer showed unprecedented success at QB as Michigan State won, 48-31. If not for the heroics of Austin Starr, Purdue would have the Old Oaken Bucket and a plane ride to Phoenix.

Match ups of the Game

Purdue Passing Game vs. Central Michigan Pass Defense-If you've been following Central Michigan at all this year, you should be able to pick up that they can't defend the pass at all, especially one as potent as Purdue's 18th ranked passing offense. The Boilermakers will come at the Chippewa secondary with Dorien Bryant, Selwyn Lymon, Dustin Keller, and Greg Orton.

CMU Passing Game vs. Purdue Pass Defense-Now, just read what I said about Purdue's offense and CMU's pass defense and flip it around. While Purdue doesn't have as bad of a secondary as the Chips possess, Dan LeFevour has a tremendous target in Bryan Anderson with whom he'll hook up a couple of big plays tonight.

Keep an Eye on...

Dan LeFevour. Think of him as a poor man's Tim Tebow (which is a good thing). LeFevour obviously wasn't playing as many quality opponents as Tim Tebow has, but his stats are almost as impressive. He's the only QB in the NCAA that has ran for 1000+ and threw for 3000+ joining Vince Young in that category.

LeFevour will be a load for the Purdue defense to handle mainly because of his dual-threat status. The sophomore has a good-sized arm and he's not lightning quick but he will hurt you on the ground. Purdue is merely average against the run but they are shaky against the pass (ranked 70th).

This is probably your third best match up of the game right here. Cliff Avril is an excellent pass rusher and the best player for Purdue defensively.

He averages half a sack per game, but, the Central Michigan offensive line has proved to be rather sturdy.

CMU ranks 16th in sacks allowed. Part of that is LeFevour's escapability and quick-decision making, but the Chippewas have the best offensive line in the Mid-America Conference.

If Avril has a big day, CMU's offense won't be as explosive as most project it to. If CMU can handle Avril's pass rushing ability, they'll move down the field with ease.


The Motor City Bowl receives a 6 out of 10 on the Must-See-Ometer. If you like offense, you've come to the right place.

Even though these two teams have met already, there are a few reasons to believe this will be a better football game:

• CMU is playing in their own backyard.
• CMU is the hotter team. Purdue has dropped three straight going from 7-2 to 7-5.
• Motivation. CMU is bound to be the more excited team. Can you imagine Purdue being pumped up for this?


The three items mentioned above only point to this being a closer game. When Purdue and Central met in September, the game was 38-0 in the third quarter. The final score is a bit misleading.

The bottom line is whether or not CMU's defense will play like they did against Miami OH. Granted, Miami OH is no Purdue, but it was their best defensive game of the season. If the CMU offense stays hot, look for this to be closer than last meeting.

Regardless, Purdue has too much offensive firepower and more athletes on defense compared to Central Michigan. Look for Purdue to pull away big in the 4th quarter. Boilermakers win, 45-31.


Merry Christmas


2008 MAC Schedules Thus Far

Sorry for not being able to post in a while, slow day in MAC football news. These schedules are via

8-30-08 at Wisconsin
9-6-08 at Syracuse
9-13-08 at Kentucky
9-20-08 ARMY

Initial Thoughts: It's tough. The Zips haven't really been shy in terms of scheduling BCS teams. Wisconsin and Cincinnati are basically out of the question, but with Kentucky's loss of Andre Woodson, they should become exponentially easier to beat. Syracuse is Syracuse and that should be a close game. The only home games that Akron gets on their non-conference schedule are those against Army and Cincinnati.

Bowling Green:
9-20-08 at Wyoming
9-27-08 at Boise State
TBA at Pittsburgh

Initial Thoughts: The Falcons have also had to settle for a plethora of road games. The Minnesota game might be a revenge trip for the Golden Gophers for what BGSU did to them last year. The road game against Wyoming is winnable if they can figure out that Cowboy defense. Boise State on the Smurf Turf probably won't be that close and the same can be said against Pittsburgh.

8-28-08 UTEP
9-6-08 COLGATE
9-20-08 at Missouri

Initial Thoughts: Buffalo still has one opening left as well. If there's any time you want to play UTEP, it's late in the year where it appears the team begins to melt down, but Turner Gill's crew will have to take them on during week one. Colgate is very winnable but a little dangerous at the same time. If Buffalo isn't colossally worse compared to last year and they show up, they should win. The Missouri game will be a outright beatdown.

Kent State:
9-6-08 at Iowa State

Initial Thoughts: Kent State still needs two more non-conference opponents, but these two are tough enough. The game against Boston College will be played at home. If we rewind to 2006 for a second, you might recall that Central Michigan gave BC a run for their money. The Golden Flashes will make a return trip to Ames to face the Cyclones who have been struggling over the last two seasons.

9-6-08 at Michigan
9-20-08 at Cincinnati

Initial Thoughts: The RedHawks will get to take on two of the same BCS conference teams they played in the 2007 season. This time though, Vanderbilt will make the trip to Oxford. That's a trap game for the Commodores, should be a fun one to see. Call me nuts if you wish, but if Michigan doesn't snatch Terrelle Pryor and they're still learning that Rich Rodriguez spread system, Miami might be able to challenge them. During October, Miami wraps it up against Western Kentucky which is a dangerous game. The Hilltoppers redshirted a bunch of players with experience last year and they weren't half bad anyway.

8-30-08 at Wyoming
9-6-08 at Ohio State
9-20-08 at Northwestern

Initial Thoughts: Ohio, like Bowling Green, will have to make the trip to Laramie. It's going to be tough to go out there because Joe Glenn's bunch is always difficult to beat at home. Ohio also gets to face two Big 10 teams in Ohio State and Northwestern. There's still an opening left on this schedule.

9-20-08 at Penn State
9-27-08 at Kentucky
11-1-08 at Navy
TBA at Army

Initial Thoughts: If there's any game that might be for retribution, it could be the Temple/UConn game. It was quite obvious that Bruce Francis came in bounds and that Temple beat UConn, but it appears that wasn't the case. Temple gets another shot at Penn State and Navy this time on the road.

Ball State:
9-6-08 NAVY
9-20-08 at Indiana
10-11-08 at Western Kentucky
TBA Army @Chicago, IL

Initial Thoughts: The Cardinals were just listed as the Dark Horse sleeper of the Early Bird Top 25 and for good reason. They won't really get tested in the non-conference slate though. Navy and Indiana won't be easy, but those are games Ball State should win. If the Cardinals can get by these two teams, or even split the two games, they might be looking at a 9 or 10 win season.

Central Michigan:
9-6-08 at Georgia
9-20-08 at Purdue

Initial Thoughts: CMU still has two openings left, but it's not like the schedule isn't difficult enough. The Chippewas have two great opportunities to make some national noise against probable top 5 Georgia next season and, you guessed it, Butch Jones & Co. have to take on Purdue yet again. That would be the third time in two seasons.

Eastern Michigan:
9-6-08 at Michigan State
9-20-08 at Maryland

Initial Thoughts: If Eastern wanted to get to a bowl game, they would have to schedule a soft non-conference schedule. Turns out that's not what they're doing. The Eagles will get to participate in an intrastate battle between their rivals from East Lansing and they get to hit the road into ACC territory to battle the Terps. There are still two openings and, for the sake of not embarrassing themselves, they should try to get Florida International and North Carolina A&T or something :D .

Northern Illinois:
8-30-08 at Minnesota
10-4-08 at Tennessee
11-22-08 NAVY

Initial Thoughts: The Huskies still have an opening left, but they'll probably lose all three of these games. The game against Minnesota might be interesting, but they'll most likely fall short there. They get to face Navy this time at home. Jerry Kill will have this team a lot better if they can stay healthy, but they're still not good enough to go bowling.

9-6-08 at Arizona
10-11-08 at Michigan

Initial Thoughts: If you like offensive shootouts, tune in if you can for the Toledo/Arizona game. It's somewhat bizarre, which adds a little excitement to the game; it's pretty rare that the MAC gets to take on the Pac-10. The FIU game should be a blowout and the Fresno State match up could be one of the better ones in 2008, seriously.

Western Michigan:
8-30-08 at Nebraska
9-13-08 at Idaho

Initial Thoughts: Western Michigan still needs a couple teams on this schedule, but the game against Nebraska could be a huge trap game. That would be Bo Pelini's debut and Nebraska was atrocious defensively last season. The Broncos have to travel to Moscow, Idaho to face the Vandals which should be anything but a stiff test.


MAC All-Stars

Heading the list this year would be Ohio's Kalvin McRae. McRae was easily the best running back in the Mid-America Conference (this side of Eugene Jarvis) racking up close to 120 yards per game. McRae will be headed to the Hula Bowl this year taking place in Hawaii (duh). With him, he'll be taking all of his records and accomplishments capping off a great senior year at Ohio.

Also participating this year will be Toledo OT, John Greco in the East-West Shrine game. And, darn, I can't find a freaking updated Hula Bowl roster anywhere, so if you guys find one in the meantime, tell me!


The All-MAC Basketball Team (1990-current)

I was going to take some time off from MAC blogging duties due to blogger's block and a lack of time due to the holidays. But fear not, I've come up with a great topic. I am going to list my 12 man, All-MAC hoopsters from the last 17 years of basketball action. Let's get going...

Coach: I've got to go with my sentimental favorite and the dean of MAC coaches, Mr. Charlie Coles. Honestly though, I don't think Charlie would have any idea how to work with this much talent.

The Bench:
PG Antonio Daniels (Bowling Green) - Now with the Wizards, Daniels was a machine in college and it was no surprise to me that he was taken #4 overall in the NBA Draft.
SG Brian Tolbert (Eastern Michigan) - From the teams that put Ben Braun on the coaching map, Tolbert was the main marksman on the EMU team that defeated Duke in the NCAA tournament.
G Craig Thames (Toledo) - I'm not sure on exact stats because Thames played in the early 90's, but it seemed like Thames averaged about 40 ppg and single-handedly beat Miami every year.
SF Bonzi Wells (Ball State) - I was fortunate enough to see Wells play while I was in school and the kid, eventhough he's kind of a fat ass now, was a flat out stud while he was at Muncie. He would be a starter on most teams, but not this one...definitely the 6th man.
F Antonio Gates (Kent State) - My least favorite player of all time in the MAC. Don't get me wrong, I love him in the NFL, but I hated the guy so much on the basketball court. He had an odd shot, you couldn't defend him because of his size and speed, and he was almost always knocking down big shots at the end of games.
PF Devin Davis (Miami) - You all remember Devin. The guy that brought dreadlocks into the MAC and a low post bruiser for four years. Led Miami to a tournament win over Damon Stoudamire and Arizona, which I was in attendance for and still remains one of the greatest games I've ever been to. Rumor has it that Devin is one of the best players in Spain currently.
PF - Anthony Stacey (Bowling Green) - Another guy I hated but respected. Stacey was just a mauler on the blocks that could make jumpers, too. An absoulte disaster to defend. When you combined he and Daniels, it's no wonder that they won the conference in 2000 (but were knocked out of the MAC tournament by the 8 seed Redhawks!).

And now, your All-MAC, post 1990, starters...

PG Earl Boykins (Eastern Michigan) - One of the most exciting players that I've ever seen on a basketball court. Just a lightning bolt that could penetrate, kick, play defense, and run you off the gym. A fine catalyst for this team.
SG Trevor Huffman (Kent State) - I don't think I ever saw Huffman miss a shot in his 4 years at KSU. The guy was awesome. He was the biggest reason for Kent State's amazing run to the Elite 8 in 2002. We want Earl to drive and kick it out to
C Chris Kaman (Central Michigan) - He was a project until the 2002-03 season when everything came together and he became unstoppable. The guy was quick, had an arsenal of low post moves, and could swat shots with the best of them.
SF Wally Szczerbiak (Miami) - Possibly the best college basketball player that I've ever seen. Wally was a true leader, an excellent marksman, could create off the dribble, played fearless defense, and basically did whatever he could to win. It's too bad his legs haven't held up throughout his career because he could have been very special in the NBA.
PF Gary Trent (Ohio) - The only 3 time MAC player of the year in the history of the conference. Trent could not be stopped in his tenure at OU. He was a beast and may be a starter on the all-MAC team of all time. He was that good and I'll never understand why he couldn't put it together in the NBA.

Wow, what a team. What a conference. If you think I forgot someone, feel free to drop some knowledge in the comments. It's hard for me to include recent players because the talent has been down overall the past 5 years.


Jerry Kill

The MAC welcomed a new head coach to the fraternity.

Here's a sample from the NIU Web site:

"It's a great opportunity to come here to Northern Illinois and be able to be a part of the program that Coach Novak has built and to join the Huskie family. This is an exciting time for my wife and I," Kill said. "After meeting with Jim [Phillips] and President Peters and seeing their commitment to the football program, with the facilities, the academic support system and everything that has been put in place, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be the head coach at Northern Illinois. "

That coach would be Southern Illinois' top man, Jerry Kill. His tenure at SIU is pretty impressive. I have a little background info on him with his start coaching at Saginaw Valley State. All I can say is the guy is a winner.

Kill has put his Salukis in the FCS playoffs for the last five years. And for you Northern Illinois fans, don't fret; the guy knows how to pound the football. The SVSU Cardinals were a rushing machine back when he was here in the mid-90's.


Opponents You Should Know

I'm going to take two players from each postseason MAC opponent and shed some light on them. Chances are, you're already aware of the best MAC players, but what about some guys on Rutgers, Purdue, or Tulsa that might change the game?

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Offense: Ray Rice

Obviously, you've probably heard of this Heisman candidate once already. Even though Rutgers has gotten a lot more done through the air than they had in 2006, Rice is still the main focus of the offense.

We're talking about a guy that was ranked third nationally in individual rushing yard with close to 145 per game! That's impressive and it's going to be difficult for Ball State to contain in the International Bowl.

Rice's only 200+ yard game came against Army, but the Scarlet Knight RB was close to 200 many times. The only time he didn't run for over 100 yards was their game earlier in the season against Norfolk State and coach Schiano didn't want to run the risk of him getting hurt.

Defense: Jamaal Westerman

Westerman didn't have a monster year as expected, but he was a factor in most of the games he played.

This junior DE had 6 sacks all year long with about 95 yards lost for the opposing offense in his TFL.

Jamaal comes in at 6'3 and weighs 252 pounds. He's going to be a load for Ball State's offensive line to handle. It'll be very interesting to see if the Cardinals, who rank 47th in sacks allowed, will be able to neutralize Westerman.

Purdue Boilermakers

Offense: Dorien Bryant

The Boilermakers are all about the pass as Central Michigan has learned first-hand.

Bryant, a probable NFL prospect, leads the way for the Purdue passing attack. Even though Joe Tiller's spread offense utilizes multiple receivers, Bryant is the biggest attention-grabber.

Dorien is currently tied for 18th in receptions per game which is pretty impressive considering how much Purdue likes to spread the ball around to all possible targets.

Bryant is also dangerous in the return game as he ranks 15th in the country!

Defense: Terrell Vinson

Cliff Avril may very well be the best player on Purdue's defense, but Vinson will probably have the most pressure of any player.

If you stop and think, Central Michigan passes and passes and passes. Even though Avril's pressure on LeFevour will be a huge factor, Vinson is the top cover-corner on the football team.

Vinson ended the year with five INTs even though he hasn't managed to find one for the last three games. He's also found his way to the QB for two sacks and Terrell also has defended 11 passes. That's a good thing meaning the QBs shy away from him.

Possibly the best one-on-one matchup in the Motor City Bowl will be Terrell Vinson on Bryan Anderson.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Offense: Paul Smith

There has to be a reason why Tulsa has the best statistical offense in the nation and besides Gus Malzahn's brilliant mind, QB Paul Smith would be the next answer.

Smith currently leads the #3 passing game in the nation and he ranks, individually, third in total offense.

Not impressive enough? Consider the fact that Smith has tossed 42 TDs and only 19 picks (which is pretty decent when you take into account all of his pass attempts).

Of course he wouldn't be able to do this without talented wideouts like Brennan Marion and Trae Johnson, but the rapid speed at which Smith picked up this new offense is something worth noting.

Defense: Tulsa LBs

Even though Tulsa's defense has given up a bunch of yards and a bunch of points, they have some defensive talent that could be the difference in the GMAC Bowl outcome.

First, Alain Karatepeyan ranks 26th individually in tackles for loss per game. That's somewhat impressive.

Then, LB Chris Chamberlain has himself about 11 tackles a game which ranks sixth in the country.

Finally, rounding out their LB trio, Nelson Coleman has himself over 10 tackles a game. If these guys can disrupt Bowling Green's short passing game, it could be a long night for the Falcons.


We've All Seen This Before

Dear Keith Dambrot,

You had a great 2006-2007. Your Akron Zips basketball team had an amazing 26-7 record. If it hadn't been for the shot heard round the world by Miami's Doug Penno, you would have won the MAC and went to the NCAA Tournament. But it wasn't meant to be. You didn't win the tournament. You didn't win the conference during the regular season. So you sat at home during the March tournaments.

I listened to you complain for what seemed like days following the MAC Tournament. You argued that Akron deserved an at-large bid. You said how hard it was to schedule good teams. You said that no one wanted to play Akron. You beat into the ground the fact that no major conference team wanted to schedule a home and home with the Zips. And why would they? What have you done? Who have the Zips beaten over the past decade? Your gym is a dump. YOU HAVE TO GO OUT AND PLAY PEOPLE IN THEIR GYM IF YOU WANT RESPECT. Let's take a look back and see your out-of-conference schedule last season.

Arkansas-Little Rock, Gardner Webb, Tiffin, Niagara, Oral Roberts, Binghamton, Winston-Salem State, UIC, St. Francis (Pa.), Nevada, Loyola Marymount, Youngstown State, and Austin Peay in the Bracket Buster.

The selection committee told you that this was a terrible schedule. There is a reason that you, as a 26-7 team, weren't even being discussed on Selection Sunday. You are a pompous jerk. Currently, numbers 1 and 2 in strength of schedule in the nation are Toledo and Miami. Those two schools know how to do it. They know what needs to be done to draw a potential at large bid. You have to take your shots at the "big boys" to gain respect. But did you learn your lesson? Well, let's see...the 2007-08 Akron Zips OOC schedule:

USC Upstate, Portland State, Tennessee State, Binghamton, Temple, Wyoming, Winthrop, North Carolina Central, UIC, North Carolina A&T, Austin Peay, Youngstown State, and Dayton

With the exception of Dayton, once again you have no quality opponents. There are no teams from major conferences yet again. So good luck in the MAC tournament, Coach Dambrot. Because you could finish 28-5 but with this crappy schedule, you will be sitting at home come March yet again.

Grow a pair and start scheduling teams that people have heard of. This is indefensible. You have no one to blame but yourself. In a 4 day stretch coming up later this month, Akron plays NC A&T and YSU at home while Miami plays at Illinois and at Kansas. But hey, I'm sure you'll get a strong look by the Selection Committee. I have absolutely zero respect for you or your cowardly program.

Sorry, Don, but it's true and I had to get that off of my chest. If Coach Dambrot is too afraid to play a tough schedule, he and this program will never be taken seriously.


Update on Northern Illinois

According to the Daily Chronicle, Dan McCarney tops the list of coaches that Northern Illinois is looking for.

This would be an interesting choice. The guy did some good things at Iowa State and it was unfortunate that he got canned the way he did there. The Cyclone program is a difficult one to handle and he did so pretty well.

So far, the NIU head coaching search doesn't include Craig Bohl, either. Bohl is the head coach at North Dakota State, but the article claims that NIU hasn't looked into him that deeply.

It's an interesting situation, that's for sure.


School Allegiance - The Constitution

As a follow-up to my column on where one's loyalty should lie when his/her school plays a more prominent program, whether it be from their home state or another, I am posting below an excellent set of criteria originally posted on the MACbbs.

The preamble was authored by your's truly...the criteria, which I believe to be spot on, was authored by Ian Elia. Enjoy!

We the people, in order to form a more perfect conference, establish justice, insure mental tranquility, provide for the common good, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our choice of secondary education, do ordain and establish this Constitution for loyalty to the Mid-American Conference.....

(A.) Children of all ages have the freedom to choose their favorite college from their birth until age 18 or their freshman year of college (which ever comes first). At said time, the student must choose to be a fan of the school he or she attends and abandon all fandom of childhood favorite school.

1. In situations where the student attends a satellite campus (examples: UNC-Charlotte) that does not sponsor a D-1A football team, said student may choose to be a fan of a D-1A program at another campus within same academic system (UNC- Chapel Hill). The student will also be allowed to root for the other campus' basketball team as well, however the student must root for the basketball team that plays on their own campus if the two ever meet face to face.

2. If a student grows up a fan of a D1 school (example: Eastern Michigan) and attends a school in a lesser division (example: Wayne State) the student is permitted to retain said allegiance to he D1 school under the provision that they would root for their alma mater if they ever played the D1 school head to head. This provision is also applicable in the reverse as well.

(B.) Every American man or woman can freely root for the institution they received their masters [or doctorate] degree from over the institution they received their undergraduate degree.

(C.) If a student attended two or more undergraduate institutions the student can root for the teams of all institutions however the fandom of the degree granting institution takes precedent over that of the other institutions.

(D.) If you have a degree from one school (example: Akron) you automatically forfeit your right to be a fan of another institution (Ohio State) that plays in the same NCAA division (or subdivision) unless said alumni begins pursuing another undergrad, graduate, or post graduate degree with the other institution.

(E.) Every American man, woman, and/or child can not tactically root for different college football and basketball programs (example: USC football, Duke basketball) unless said man, woman, or child either:

1. Has attended both institutions
2. Has attended one of the universities and lives in the immediate community of the second university which is economically and socially impacted by the second school.
3. Has attended one of the universities and has a parent or parents who have worked for the second institution.
4. Has attended one of the universities and has a parent or sibling who have played athletics for the other university.


It Wasn't Meant To Be

Well, Miami University's football season is officially over after being steam-rolled by Central Michigan in the MAC Championship game. Did the Redhawks deserve to go bowling? Even as the biased homer that I am, I say hell no. This team wasn't very good. They won the East with smoke and mirrors. The offense was anemic at best. We had a heck of a young defense this year but due to the offensive ineptitude, they spent way too much time on the field this year and were worn down in 4th quarters. But there is always next year. And that's what I'm going to discuss today.

On offense, the Redhawks have to replace a few offensive lineman but the core of the unit returns. The running game will be a bit of a question mark considering we played half of the season this year with our 4th and 5th string RB due to injuries. The WR were, for the most part, all freshman and sophomores so with a year under their belts, they should be much more reliable next year. The big change is that the awkward and inaccurate arm of Daniel Raudabaugh will be back to his more comfortable role of backup QB and in comes the stud. That's right, it's the dawn of a new offensive era in Oxford with redshirt freshman QB, Clay Belton, slated to take over the reigns. Belton (left) is a HUGE 6'5" lefty with excellent mobility and a cannon for an arm. While I am not a big Raudabaugh fan at all, I have to give him props for not getting injured this year which would have burned up Belton's redshirt. You are reading that correctly, Miami only had one QB on the roster after the awfulness of Mike Kokal went down early in the season. But, back to Belton, you are hearing it here first. He is going to be the MAC's version of Vince Young. Mark it down, Clay will turn heads.

Defensively, most of the starters return. While the defensive line loses the pass rushing skills of Craig Mester, big Martin Channels will still be stuffing the run in the middle. And of course, our Big 3 Linebacking Corps of Joey Hudson, Caleb Bostic, and MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Clayton Mullins all return and will once again cause havoc to opposing offenses. These 3 guys form the best linebacking trio in the conference and could be the three best overall in the league. The secondary loses Jerrod Gaines at CB but the other 3 guys all return to the #1 defense in the MAC.

The amazing thing about the Miami football program is that 44 of the players on the team this past year were either redshirt or true freshman. There were only 13 seniors on the team. That's amazing. The fact that they won the MAC East this year with that much youth is truly an exceptional feat.

I hate to say it, but if the team takes a step backwards in 2008, this could be it for coach Shane Montgomery. It has been entirely too long since Miami has been to a bowl game (only 3 years but still, that's unacceptable). The pieces are there with that linebacking corps, a big time young QB who has had a year to learn the system, and a stable of rapidly developing WR's.

So although 2007 has ended in disappointment for Miami Redhawk football, the future is bright indeed. Is it August yet?


MAC Bowl Bids Announced

And a congrats to Central Michigan on winning the MAC title! I'll share some thoughts on the bowl pairings later this week. But as for now....

Motor City Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Purdue
International Bowl: Ball State vs. Rutgers
GMAC Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Tulsa