2009 NCAA Bowl Projections, Part Eight: The Mid-American Conference

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2009 NCAA Bowl Projections, Part Eight: The Mid-American Conference

In the fourth non-BCS conference installment of the Bowl Projection Series, we look at the league that contains my alma mater: The Mid-American Conference.

A year after making headlines by nearly becoming a BCS Buster when Ball State started 12-0, the MAC has flown under the radar this year but has three great stories.

The biggest is probably Temple, a perennial also-ran who provided the sequel to Buffalo’s 2008 rags-to-riches story. What looked like another ho-hum season after an 0-2 start turned into the Owls’ best campaign in 30 years.

Nine straight wins gave Temple a chance at the MAC East crown, but a loss to Ohio squashed that. Still, at 9-3, the Owls are going bowling for the first time since 1979.

Instead, it will be the Bobcats playing for the MAC title, and their story is head coach Frank Solich. Six years after being unceremoniously dumped by alma mater Nebraska, Solich has Ohio on the cusp of their first MAC Championship since 1968.

To do so, however, they’ll have to beat the recent model of MAC consistency: Central Michigan. Led by much-ballyhooed QB Dan LeFevour, whom many feel will follow Ben Roethlisberger’s path to NFL success, the Chippewas are in the conference title game for the third time in his four-year career.

But while they’ve won more than two-thirds of their games and appeared in three straight Motor City Bowls, Central Michigan has not won a MAC title since the league split into divisions in 1997.

For the postseason, the MAC has five eligible teams with three tie-ins, plus a contingency plan with the EagleBank Bowl that will be exercised because the ACC can’t provide an eligible qualifier.

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