DETROIT – The Toledo Rockets and Bowling Green Falcons have been selected to win the West and East Divisions respectfully in the 2015 Mid-American Conference Football Preseason Poll. The poll was announced at the league’s annual MAC Football Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit and was determined by members of the league’s media members. Toledo was also selected to win the 2015 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game.
In the East Division, two-time defending East Champion Bowling Green was selected first with 160 total points followed by three teams separated by only five points. Ohio and Akron tied for second with 118 points, while UMass placed fourth with 113 points.
In the West Division, Toledo was selected first in the Division in a narrow race by only one point over Western Michigan and only nine points separated the top three teams including five-time defending West Champion Northern Illinois. Toledo placed first with 121 points, while Western Michigan was second with 120 points and Northern Illinois third with 113 points.
This obviously reflects on the competitive nature of the MAC. In the last five years the conference has witnessed five different programs compete in the Marathon MAC Football Championship Game and in the last four years 10 different MAC football programs have appeared in a bowl game.
Bowling Green garnered 18 first-place votes en route to the favorite spot in the East Division. The Falcons return 46 letter winners and 18 starters from last year’s 8-6 team that won the MAC East Division for the second consecutive year and won the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl with a 33-28 win over South Alabama. Second-year head coach Dino Babers will look for quarterback Matt Johnson to lead the Falcons coming off a season missed by injury, while running back Travis Greene rushed for 949 yards and 12 scores and wide receiver Roger Lewis hauled in 73 receptions for 1,094 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ohio (one first place vote) and Akron (two first place votes) tied for second in the East Division and totaled 118 total points, while UMass ranked fourth with three first place votes and 113 total points. Buffalo finished fifth with 70 points, followed by Miami and Kent State.
Toledo racked up 11 first-place votes in the West Division to propel the Rockets to first place with 121 points. Toledo welcomes back 46 letter winners and 17 starters from last year’s team that went 9-4 overall, 7-1 in Conference play. The Rockets shared the West Division title and went on to an impressive 63-44 win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl.
The Rockets offense will be paced by junior running back Kareem Hunt who rushed for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns in only 10 games last season. Wide receivers Corey Jones, with 842 yards and five touchdowns and Alonzo Russell, 770 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, provide the Rockets with threats at the skill positions. Defensively, Toledo returns 10 starters including defensive end Trent Voss, who had 77 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in 2014, and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, with 49 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss last season.
Western Michigan was picked second in the West Division and earned eight first place votes and totaled 120 total points. Northern Illinois was picked third with 113 points and received four first place votes, while Ball State was selected fourth with 66 total points. Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan rounded out the West Division.
The 2015 season kicks off on Thursday, September 3 with four non-conference games. The 2015 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game is Friday, December 4 at 8:00 pm from Ford Field in Detroit.
Team (First Place Votes) Points
MAC East Division
1. Bowling Green (18) 160
T2. Ohio (1) 118
T2. Akron (2) 118
4. UMass (3) 113
5. Buffalo 70
6. Miami 47
7. Kent State 46
MAC West Division
1. Toledo (11) 121
2. Western Michigan (8) 120
3. Northern Illinois (4) 113
4. Ball State 66
5. Central Michigan (1) 56
6. Eastern Michigan 28
2015 Marathon MAC Championship Game Winner: Toledo (9); Western Michigan (8); Northern Illinois (6); Central Michigan (1).