The Mid-American Conference had some national attention last year with Dan LeFevour capping off his stellar career. Can someone else do the same in 2010?
1. Who will win the conference? Temple Owls. Yes, I am on the Temple bandwagon. I got on it last year and haven’t gotten off yet. The Owls might have won the conference championship last year if not for an injury to Bernard Pierce the week before the Ohio game. Al Golden is a great coach who showed commitment to the program this offseason by not taking other job offers. His players noticed and made the same investment by working extra hard this offseason.
2. Who is the top returning player? Bernard Pierce, Temple. He came in and made an immediate impact as a freshman last year. He rushed for over 100 yards six times en route to 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns. Pierce was a freshman all-American, and this year Temple is promoting him for the Heisman Trophy.
3. Which team will be the most improved? Ball State. The Cardinals did a complete 180 going from two losses in 2008 to two wins in 2009. This year will be much different. Ball State had to start over after losing head coach Brady Hoke to San Diego State and quarterback Nate Davis to the NFL. Running back MiQuale Lewis is still on the roster, so expect marked improvement out of Muncie, Indiana.
4. What will be the biggest surprise? Northern Illinois will beat Iowa State. The Cyclones won seven games in 2009 including a win in the Insight Bowl, but Chad Spann and company will make a statement on the opening day of the 2010 season.
5. Which coach is on the hottest seat? Doug Martin, Kent State. Kent State followed a 6-6 year in 2006 with 3-9, 4-8, and 5-7 records. Martin has a talented team this year, especially since the NCAA granted Eugene Jarvis a sixth year of eligibility. If he can’t get the Golden Flashes to a bowl game, he could be shown the way out.