I'm all about full disclosure, so here's how I voted in the MAC preseason poll. Results will be announced Tuesday at MAC media day.
1. Northern Illinois. Defending MAC champion brings back league player of the year in quarterback Jordan Lynch. The promoting of Rod Carey to head coach from offensive coordinator is reason for pause. Carey began last season coaching offensive line before assuming coordinator duties in September when Mike Dunbar took a step back to battle cancer. That's quite a progression in four months, leaving me skeptical. If NIU got it right in hiring Carey, just as it did before him with Dave Doeren and Jerry Kill, the Huskies should succeed.
2. Ball State. Must replace four experienced players from the MAC's top offensive line. Accomplish that, and the Cardinals could win the division. The schedule is workable outside of a trip to NIU in November.
3. Toledo. Good team could be undone by brutal schedule. Trips to Bowling Green, Ball State, and Central Michigan, packaged with a home game against nemesis NIU, has UT staring at a mediocre MAC season. But this team is talented enough and seasoned enough to overcome scheduling challenges.
4. Central Michigan. The Chips won a bowl game last year, but I can't move them any higher than No. 4. Will be interesting to see the offense under the direction of a quarterback other than multi-year starter Ryan Radcliff. A three-way competition will commence when camp opens.
5. Western Michigan. New coach P.J. Fleck has been all over Kalamazoo and the Internet trying to drum up interest in the program. His efforts could pay dividends down the road but not immediately. His 2013 team isn't good enough to make real noise.
6. EMU. Quarterback Tyler Benz and running back Bronson Hill are solid weapons but this program is hopeless. Ypsilanti is a tough place to win.
1. Bowling Green. Falcons have been building for this season. If defense can dominate again (tough to do with the loss of Chris Jones), and quarterback Matt Schilz performs like a four-year starter (he struggled last year), BG should win the division.
2. Ohio. Good quarterback, good coach, soft schedule. Bobcats will be hungry after last year's late season slide.
3. Buffalo. When healthy, the Bulls were competitive last year and finished the season on a high note winning three of four. This is a gut pick, but I think Buffalo, perennially hapless, has a good season.
4. Kent State. I sense the Golden Flashes, coming off an 11-win season, revert to the team that missed a bowl game in 40 straight years. New coach, new quarterback, but the excellent Dri Archer returns. Maybe I'm underselling this team, but the Flashes need to win me over again.
5. Miami. Gone is the dynamic pass-catch duo of Zac Dysert (NFL) and Nick Harwell (arrested, transferred to Kansas). That's a stiff blow to a team that won only four games with them.
6. Akron. Coming off consecutive one-win seasons, the Zips must take baby steps to relevance. A top five finish in the division would be a nice accomplishment.
7. Massachusetts. A successful transition to FBS will take some time for the Minutemen.
MAC title game winner: Northern Illinois