CFT predicts: the MAC

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It’s MACtion time, you guys! For as little attention as the MAC gets nationally, the conference hosted some of the most exciting games last year. Toldeo was involved in both, losing to Northern Illinois 63-60 before turning around and beating Western Michigan 66-63 the following week.

Can the MAC produce the same types of games this year? Maybe not. Or, the conference can just hire Gus Johnson to call every game to make it seem more exciting.

Looking ahead to the 2012 season, here’s how the MAC should shake out:

(Let it be known that I reserve the right to change my mind at any time without notice.)

East Division 

1. Ohio (last season: 10-4; won Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) 
The Bobcats are one of those deceptively good teams. Penn State is only a slight favorite for the Sept. 1 season opener against Ohio and the other OU can realistically make that an interesting game. Ohio almost won the MAC last year and are the class of an otherwise down East division.

2. Miami (last season: 4-8) 
The Redhawks struggled in their first season under Don Treadwell, but they do have one of the better — if not the best — quarterback in the league in Zac Dysert. He needs help, though; Miami had the nation’s worst rushing attack last year.

3. Bowling Green (last season: 5-7)
Dave Clawson needs to get this team back to bowl eligibility or he could be out by the end of the year. The first month or so will be tough for the Falcons, but Bowling Green could rack up some wins in the second half of the season.

4. Kent State (last season: 5-7) 
The Golden Flashes couldn’t do anything productive on offense last year. Based on that, it might not be a great thing that Kent State returns eight offensive starters from a year ago. The defense wasn’t terrible last year and returns six starters of their own.

5. Buffalo (last season: 3-9) 
There’ll be no circling of the wagon for the Bulls (yeah, I know) this year. For a MAC program, the schedule is difficult and Buffalo returns only 13 starters from a year ago.

6. Akron (last season: 1-11) 
Terry Bowden makes his anticipated (is that the right word?) return to FBS football by taking over a program that flat-out stunk last season. Can the Zips get back on the winning side of things in 2012? No, but it’ll be good to have a Bowden back in the coaching ranks. Maybe.

7. UMass (last season: 5-6 in FCS) 
Massachusetts begins its FBS journey in one of the easiest divisions in college football outside the SEC East (Kidding, y’all! Sort of.), but the Minutemen will have a hard time adjusting. Former Notre Dame assistant Charley Molnar will make his head coaching debut.

West Division

1. Northern Illinois (last season: 11-3; won GoDaddy.com Bowl) 
Chandler Harnish, better known in the NFL as Mr. Irrelevant, is gone and takes with him practically all of Northern Illinois’ offensive production. In all, NIU returns only 13 starters, but Dave Doeren gets it done with a program that’s going to consistently contend for division titles.

2. Ball State (last season: 6-6) 
Pete Lembo is an under-the-radar coach that will land a bigger job sooner or later. Lembo took the Cardinals to a .500 record a year ago and should be able to improve on that with the core of last year’s team returning.

3. Western Michigan (last season: 7-6; lost Little Caesar’s Bowl) 
The Broncos had one of the best passing offenses in 2011 and returning is quarterback Alex Carder. The problem for Western Michigan is that they play four of its final six games on the road.

4. Toldeo (last season: 9-4; won Military Bowl) 
Toledo lost its coach Tim Beckman to Illinois, but Beckman leaves the program in great shape — for the future. Losing speedy receiver Eric Page hurts the offense and the Rockets don’t return many starters. 2012 will be a cold splash of reality for Toledo.

5. Eastern Michigan (last season: 6-6) 
Eastern Michigan has made strides under coach Ron English after recording just two wins in his first two years. The Eagles can run the ball — they ranked in the top 15 nationally in that category last year — and return their two best rushers.

6. Central Michigan (last season: 3-9) 
No Butch Jones, no Dan Lefevour. Central Michigan has fallen greatly since those two appeared together just a few years ago. Ryan Radcliff has improved at quarterback, but there’s not much else to get excited about.

CFT’s MAC champion: Ohio 

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Interested in our other 10 conference projections along with Division 1-A (FBS) Independents? View ‘em all below by clicking the individual links or our projections landing page HERE. And don’t forget to check out CFT’s preseason Top 25.

ACC
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Conference USA 
Mountain West
Pac-12
SEC
Sun Belt
WAC
Independents

Florida WR Dionte marks makes way into transfer portal

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The Florida Gators are the latest Power Five program to see its football roster nicked by the transfer portal.

First reported by Matt Zenitz of al.com, wide receiver Dionte Marks is headed into the NCAA transfer database.  A Florida football official subsequently confirmed that the redshirt freshman has informed the program of his intention to take the [portal for a test drive.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Barring a waiver being granted, Marks will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave the Deland, Fla., product with three years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Marks was a three-star member of the Florida football Class of 2019.  The receiver’s only other Power Five offers came from Florida State, Nebraska and West Virginia.  FAU and UCF were in the mix as well.

As a true freshman, Marks took a redshirt for the 2019 season.  He did, though, appear in a pair of games, but didn’t produce any stats.

This is the first known Florida football player to leave the program since offensive lineman Isaiah Walker transferred to Miami in early May.  In between, UF has picked up transfers from Miami and Mississippi State.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Alabama-USC confirmed for 2020 opener and a book claiming Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Crimson Tide

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 16, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football down-time, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Big 12 coordinator of officials clears up when ‘horns down’ is and is not a penalty
THE SYNOPSIS: Amen.  It’s about time someone looked out for the feelings of those associated with the University of Texas’ college football team.  [/wanking motion]

2018

THE HEADLINE: Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe
THE SYNOPSIS: Kyler Murray was the presumptive front-runner.  And he won the starting job.  And the Heisman Trophy a few months later.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Les Miles’ daughter is trying to convince him to be a broadcaster but Mad Hatter still wants to coach
THE SYNOPSIS: In December of 2018, Miles was named as the head coach at Kansas. But not before building up his acting résumé, though.

2016

THE HEADLINE: THE Michael Jordan to serve as honorary captain for Michigan’s opener
THE SYNOPSIS: Since becoming part of the Air Jordan apparel family in 2015, U-M has finished third, third, fourth, tied for first and third in the Big Ten East.  And has stretched its losing streak to rival Ohio State to eight straight and 15 of the last 16.  The Jumpman logo on the uniforms does look cool, though.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Clemson K charged with coke possession ‘will miss some time’
THE SYNOPSIS: Courtesy of Clemson, the first cocaine kicker in the College Football Talk collective.  What a proud moment.  Both for that and the alliteration in this synopsis.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Alabama-USC set for 2016 opener in Arlington
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, not so much.

2014

THE HEADLINE: New book: Texas, boosters offered Nick Saban $100 million-plus to leave Tide
THE SYNOPSIS: Saban and his wife both very vociferously stated they weren’t leaving Tuscaloosa.  Saban’s high-powered agent, Jimmy Sexton, though, reportedly played point man in at least a couple of meetings with those connected to the Longhorns football program.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Butch Davis says he wants to coach again
THE SYNOPSIS: This pronouncement came two years after his NCAA-induced departure from North Carolina. And five years prior to his return to the coaching game at Florida International.

2010

THE HEADLINE: NCAA probe into UNC football program ‘sounding very serious’
THE SYNOPSIS: Speaking of Butch Davis

2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard, 2018 finalist Travis Etienne two of the 76 Doak Walker Award watch listers

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If you’re a starting running back at the FBS level, there’s a fairly good chance you are part of the Doak Walker Award watch list.

Monday, it was the Bednarik Award kicking off watch list season.  Tuesday, the Davey O’Brien Award joined in.  A day later, the Doak Walker Award joined the burgeoning list of honors releasing their preseason watch lists.

This award, given annually to the nation’s top running back, features a whopping 76 preseason candidates.  Included in that are 2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State and 2018 finalist Travis Etienne of Clemson.  Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

Every FBS conference is represented on the list.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 lead the way with 10 apiece, followed by the ACC and SEC with nine each.  The other Power Five, the Big 12, landed five. Wih seven apiece, the Mountain West and Sun Belt led all Group of Five conferences.

Of the more than six dozen watch listers, 30 of them are seniors.  Another 28 are juniors while the other 18 are sophomores.

Below are all 76 running backs who make up this year’s Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.

Drake Anderson (So.), Northwestern
David Bailey (Jr.), Boston College
Max Borghi (Jr.), Washington State
Rakeem Boyd (Sr.), Arkansas
Gary Brightwell (Sr.), Arizona
Kennedy Brooks (Jr.), Oklahoma
Shamari Brooks (Sr.), Tulsa
Christopher Brown, Jr. (Jr.), Cal
Journey Brown (Jr.), Penn State
Spencer Brown (Sr.), UAB
Noah Cain (So.), Penn State
Jamale Carothers (Jr.), Navy
Stephen Carr (Sr.), USC
Michael Carter (Sr.), North Carolina
Andrew Clair (Jr.), Bowling Green
Elijah Collins (So.), Michigan State
James Cook (Jr.), Georgia
Jashaun Corbin (So.), Florida State
ReMahn Davis (So.), Temple
Travis Etienne (Sr.), Clemson
Demetric Felton (Sr.), UCLA
Alex Fontenot (Jr.), Colorado
Kenneth Gainwell (So.), Memphis
Tyler Goodson (So.), Iowa
Eric Gray (So.), Tennessee
Breece Hall (So.), Iowa State
Najee Harris (Sr.), Alabama
Javian Hawkins (So.), Louisville
Justin Henderson (Sr.), Louisiana Tech
Kylin Hill (Sr.), Mississippi State
George Holani (So.), Boise State
Chuba Hubbard (Jr.), Oklahoma State
Caleb Huntley (Sr.), Ball State
Mohamed Ibrahim (Jr.), Minnesota
Keaontay Ingram (Jr.), Texas
Deon Jackson (Sr.), Duke
Jermar Jefferson (Jr.), Oregon State
Josh Johnson (Sr.), ULM
Amare Jones (Jr.), Tulane
Lopini Katoa (Jr.), BYU
Wesley Kennedy III (Sr.), Georgia Southern
JD King (Sr.), Georgia Southern
Brenden Knox (Jr.), Marshall
Bryant Koback (Jr.), Toledo
Kobe Lewis (Jr.), Central Michigan
Vavae Malepeai (Sr.), USC
Kevin Marks (Jr.), Buffalo
Jordan Mason (Jr.), Georgia Tech
Kevin Mensah (Sr.), Connecticut
Dedrick Mills (Sr.), Nebraska
Elijah Mitchell (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Marcel Murray (Jr.), Arkansas State
Richard Newton (So.), Washington
Jaret Patterson (Jr.), Buffalo
Trey Ragas (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Miles Reed (Jr.), Hawaii
Ronnie Rivers (Sr.), Fresno State
Larry Rountree III (Sr.), Missouri
Mekhi Sargent (Sr.), Iowa
Stevie Scott III (Jr.), Indiana
B.J. Smith (Sr.), Troy
Isaiah Spiller (So.), Texas A&M
SaRodorick Thompson (So.), Texas Tech
Toa Taua (Jr.), Nevada
Corey Taylor II (Sr.), Tulsa
Xazavian Valladay (Jr.), Wyoming
CJ Verdell (Jr.), Oregon
Quardraiz Wadley (Sr.), UTEP
Gaej Walker (Sr.), Western Kentucky
Kenneth Walker III (So.), Wake Forest
Jaylen Warren (Sr.), Utah State
Nakia Watson (So.), Wisconsin
Zamir White (So.), Georgia
Charles Williams (Sr.), UNLV
Javonte Williams (Jr.), North Carolina
D.J. Williams (So.), Auburn

Multiple Power Five teams already expressing interest in Virginia transfer Ja’Quay Hubbard

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One erstwhile Virginia football player has already proven very popular in the transfer portal.

Late last week, Ja’Quay Hubbard was one of two Virginia football players to enter the NCAA transfer database.  Less than a week later, it’s being reported that multiple Power Five schools have already reached expressing interest in the offensive lineman.  Among those?  Florida, Iowa State, Michigan, Mississippi State, Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia.

Reportedly.

Pitt is on Virginia’s 2020 schedule, it should be noted.  The Cavaliers are scheduled to play host to the Panthers on Nov. 21 of this year.

Hubbard will not be leaving the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, it should also be noted.  He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves to another FBS program.  That would leave him with three years of eligibility starting in 2021.

In mid-March, Bronco Mendenhall revealed that Hubbard had decided to leave the Virginia football team.  At the time, the head coach stated that the lineman would be on the move to an unspecified junior college.  Whether that will still be the case remains to be seen.

Hubbard was a three-star 2019 signee.  He played in two games as a true freshman, which allowed the lineman to take a redshirt.