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MAC wrap: Hard to top Doeren's debut

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The MAC experienced the most coaching turnover of any conference in the offseason, so it's only fitting that a new guy won the league title.

Northern Illinois' Dave Doeren, who had been the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, guided the Huskies to a 10-3 mark. They beat Ohio in the MAC title game.

While Doeren has a defensive background, it was all about offense for NIU this season. Indeed, the defense could be termed "offensive," allowing 417.9 yards and 31.1 points per game; those figures rank 87th and 90th nationally, respectively.

Coach of year:
Eastern Michigan's Ron English
Player of year:
NIU QB Chandler Harnish
Freshman of year:
Toledo G Greg Mancz
Coordinator of year:
NIU offensive coordinator Matt Canada
Defensive player of year:
Western Michigan T Drew Nowak
Defensive freshman of year:
Buffalo LB Lee Skinner
Defensive coordinator of year:
Temple's Chuck Heater

But if you surrender 31.1 points per game and still win 10 times, you must have a potent offense. NIU scored at least 40 points nine times and gained at least 500 yards seven times and at least 600 yards three times. Not surprisingly, NIU received excellent quarterback play from Chandler Harnish and he operated behind the league's best line.

New coaches at Temple (Steve Addazio) and Ball State (Pete Lembo) also had success. The Owls are going bowling, while the Cardinals are bowl-eligible but staying home.

[Video: Bowl games to watch ]


Player of year: NIU QB Chandler Harnish. He was good as a junior but he was spectacular this season as a senior. He was in the top 20 in the nation in both rushing and passing efficiency (think about that double for a second), and he also finished eighth in total offense while leading the Huskies to the league crown.

Freshman of year: Toledo G Greg Mancz. He started all 12 games for the Rockets and fit right in on a senior-dominated line. He entered fall drills at center but slid over to fill a need and performed superbly.

Coach of year: Eastern Michigan's Ron English. English led the Eagles to a 6-6 mark, and they were in the hunt for bowl eligibility until losing to NIU in their final game of the season. EMU had won just two games in English's first two seasons, and this is their first non-losing season since 1995. English has a defensive background and has done a great job overseeing EMU's vast improvement on that side of the ball.

Coordinator of year: NIU offensive coordinator Matt Canada. This is the first season of Canada's second go-round with the Huskies. He was an assistant at NIU from 1998-2003 before spending seven seasons at Indiana. He went back to NIU this season and oversaw an offense that ranks 10th nationally overall and 13th in scoring.

Biggest surprise, team: Eastern Michigan. A 6-6 finish is a cause for a parade in Ypsilanti. The Eagles won a combined 28 games from 2000-10, and their turnaround this season was shocking.

Biggest disappointment, team: Miami. The RedHawks were the surprise league winners last season and had 17 starters back. But the RedHawks never recovered from an 0-4 start under new coach Don Treadwell. Miami finished 4-8, and the biggest culprit for the poor season was a rushing attack that ranked last nationally.

Biggest surprise, player: Buffalo TB Branden Oliver. Oliver started seven games last season as a true freshman, but he managed just 298 yards on 102 carries. Could he really handle the starting job? Uh, yes, he could. Oliver rumbled for 1,395 yards and 13 TDs this season to provide a sizeable portion of the offense for the Bulls.

Biggest disappointment, player: Kent State WR Tyshon Goode. Goode was a steady performer on an offense-challenged team in his first two seasons, catching a total of 112 passes with 10 scores. But he slumped badly this season. Granted, the Golden Flashes were more offense-challenged than usual and the quarterback play was bad, but Goode finished with just 24 receptions and two scores. He only had one game with as many as five catches after having nine such games in the past two seasons.

Best game: Nov. 1, Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60. If you like defense, this was your worst nightmare. But who wants to watch a defensive struggle on a Tuesday night? This was an epic offensive battle, with 43 points scored in the fourth quarter alone. Get this: There were four TDs in a span of 3:36 early in the fourth quarter, and the game also featured two kickoff returns for TDs by NIU's Tommylee Lewis in the first five minutes of the game. Harnish threw six TD passes - including the game-winner with 53 seconds left - and Toledo's Austin Dantin tossed five. This game ultimately determined the MAC West title. (Toledo allowed 63 points the very next week, but won that one 66-63 over Western Michigan.)

Biggest upset: Oct. 1, Central Michigan 48, Northern Illinois 41. Central won just three games this season; the Chippewas beat a FCS program, they beat Akron, the worst team in FBS, and they pulled this stunner. CMU QB Ryan Radcliff threw four TD passes and guided an offense that rolled up 563 yards.

Underclassmen liable to turn pro: Toledo WR Eric Page, Temple RB Bernard Pierce

Bowl outlook: Six league teams were bowl-eligible and five (all but Ball State) got bids. The best news for the MAC: All five games are winnable. While it's doubtful, the league goes 5-0, MAC officials can dream, can't they? Western Michigan is the only school who will play a Big Six opponent; the Broncos meet Purdue in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Temple (Wyoming) and Toledo (Air Force) have Mountain West opponents, Ohio plays a team from the WAC (Utah State) and NIU gets Sun Belt champ Arkansas State.

[Video: Oklahoma State isn't the biggest BCS snub]

QB Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois; 6-2/220, Sr.; Bluffton (Ind.) Norwell
RB Branden Oliver, Buffalo; 5-8/200, Soph.; Miami Southridge
RB Bernard Pierce, Temple; 6-0/218, Jr.; Concordville (Pa.) Glen Mills
WR Nick Harwell, Miami; 6-1/187, Soph.; Missouri City (Texas) Elkins
WR Eric Page, Toledo; 5-10/180, Jr.; Springfield (Ohio) High
WR Jordan White, Western Michigan; 6-0/215, Sr.; North Ridgeville (Ohio) High
T Mike VanDerMeulen, Toledo; 6-7/304, Sr.; Marshall (Mich.) High
T Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois; 6-6/298, Sr.; Richfield (Minn.) High
G Eric Herman, Ohio; 6-4/317, junior; Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic
G Wayne Tribue, Temple; 6-4/324, Sr.; York (Pa.) Central York
C Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois; 6-4/310, Sr.; Elkhorn (Wis.) Elkhorn Area
E Brad Ohrman, Eastern Michigan; 6-4/275, Sr.; Adrian (Mich.) High
T Chris Jones, Bowling Green; 6-1/295, Jr.; Brownsburg (Ohio) High
T Drew Nowak, Western Michigan;; 6-4/292, Sr.; Green Bay (Wis.) De Pere
E Adrian Robinson, Temple; 6-2/250, Sr.; Harrisburg (Pa.) High
LB Stephen Johnson, Temple; 6-1/230, Sr.; Eagleville (Pa.) Methacton
LB Aaron Morris, Ball State; 6-0/220, Soph.; Cleveland Glenville
LB Brian Wagner, Akron; 6-0/235, Jr.; Springfield (Ohio) Springfield Catholic Central
CB Travis Carrie, Ohio; 6-0/203, Jr.; Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
CB Dayonne Nunley, Miami; 5-8/183, Soph.; Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
FS Kevin Kroboth, Temple; 6-0/198, Sr.; Nazareth (Pa.) Nazareth Area
SS Jahleel Addae, Central Michigan; 5-11/195, Sr.; Tampa Riverview
K Matt Weller, Ohio; 6-0/208, Jr.; Twinsburg (Ohio) High
P Brian Schmiedebusch, Bowling Green; 6-4/214, Soph.; Ottawa (Ohio) Ottawa-Glandorf
KR BooBoo Gates, Bowling Green; 5-10/209, Soph.; Middletown (Ohio) High
PR Eric Page, Toledo; 5-10/180, Jr.; Springfield (Ohio) High
QB Alex Carder, Western Michigan; 6-2/224, Jr.; Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Northwest
RB Jasmin Hopkins, Northern Illinois; 5-9/180, Sr.; Fort Scott CC (Kan.), preceded by Stanley (N.C.) East Gaston
RB Adonis Thomas, Toledo; 5-10/185, Sr.; Newark (N.J.) Weeguahic
WR LaVon Brazill, Ohio; 5-11/191, Sr.; Lake Worth (Fla.) High
WR Kamar Jorden, Bowling Green; 6-1/203, Sr.; Lansdowne (Pa.) Penn Wood
WR Chleb Ravenell, Western Michigan; 5-11/183, Sr.; Georgia Military, preceded by Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) Wando
T Pat Boyle, Temple; 6-5/320, Sr.; Towson (Md.) Calvert Hall
T Joe Flading, Ohio; 6-4/290, Sr.; Cincinnati Anderson
G Bridger Buche, Eastern Michigan; 6-4/305, Sr.; Portland (Mich.) High
G Joe Pawlak, Northern Illinois; 6-5/300, Sr.; Grayslake (Ill.) High
C Ben Bojicic, Bowling Green; 6-4/295, Sr.; Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison
E Freddie Bishop, Western Michigan; 6-4/253, Jr.; Carleton (Mich.) Airport
T Roosevelt Nix, Kent State; 6-0/250, Soph.; Reynoldsburg (Ohio) High
T Austin Brown, Miami; 6-2/270, Jr.; Woodbridge (Va.) High
E Sean Progar, Northern Illinois; 6-3/255, Jr.; Glenview (Ill.) Glenbrook South
LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo; 6-3/248, Soph.; Fort Pierce (Fla.) Westwood
LB Tahir Whitehead, Temple; 6-2/228, Sr.; Newark (N.J.) West Side
LB Dwayne Woods, Bowling Green; 6-1/227, Jr.; Cincinnati Princeton
CB Najja Johnson, Buffalo; 6-0/185, Soph.; Marietta (Ga.) High
CB Josh Pleasant, Kent State; 5-10/190, Sr.; Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, preceded by Gaithersburg (Md.) Watkins Mill
FS Latarrius Thomas, Eastern Michigan; 6-1/210, Sr.; Louisville transfer, preceded by New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High
SS Sean Baker, Ball State; 6-1/209, Sr.; Canfield (Ohio) High
K Mathew Sims, Northern Illinois; 5-11/185, Soph.; Hannibal (Mo.) High
P Brandon McManus, Temple; 6-3/190, Jr.; Lansdale (Pa.) North Penn
KR Matt Brown, Temple; 5-5/170, Jr.; Milford (N.J.) Milford Academy, preceded by Highstown (N.J.) The Peddie School
PR Jordan White, Western Michigan; 6-0/215, Sr.; North Ridgeville (Ohio) High
QB None
RB Jahwan Edwards, Ball State; 5-10/232, true freshman; Matthews (N.C.) Butler
RB Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green; 5-11/183, true freshman; Miami Pace
WR Titus Davis, Central Michigan; 6-2/185, true freshman; Wheaton (Ill.) Wheaton-Warrenville South
WR David Frazier, Miami; 6-0/164, true freshman; Columbia (S.C.) Irmo
WR Courtney Williams, Central Michigan; 6-1/205, true freshman; Melvindale (Mich.) High
T Lincoln Hansen, Eastern Michigan; 6-6/303, redshirt freshman; Omaha (Neb.) Millard North
T Kevin Henry, Central Michigan; 6-5/300, redshirt freshman; Morris (Ill.) High
G Andre Davis, Buffalo; 6-4/315, redshirt freshman; Cheektowaga (N.Y.) Maryvale
G Greg Mancz, Toledo; 6-5/280, redshirt freshman; Cincinnati Anderson
C Andy Phillips, Central Michigan; 6-3/302, redshirt freshman; Lansing (Mich.) Waverly
E Nick Miles, Ball State; 6-2/252, true freshman; Burlington (N.C.) Eastern Alamance
T Matt Losiniecki, Central Michigan; 6-1/267, true freshman; Waukesha (Wis.) Waukesha West
E Charlie Walker, Bowling Green; 6-2/228, redshirt freshman; Sterling Heights (Mich.) Stevenson
LB Jamaal Bass, Northern Illinois; 6-0/220, redshirt freshman; Miramar (Fla.) High
LB Devon Brant, Western Michigan; 5-11/224, true freshman; Sparr (Fla.) North Marion
LB Cody Lopez, Central Michigan; 6-1/218, true freshman; Plainfield (Mich.) North
LB Lee Skinner, Buffalo; 6-2/247, redshirt freshman; Dayton (Ohio) Fairborn
CB Nathan Carpenter, Ohio; 5-9/184, redshirt freshman; Lancaster (Ohio) High
CB Cortney Lester, Buffalo; 6-0/189, redshirt freshman; Miramar (Fla.) Everglades
S Calvin Tiggle, Kent State; 5-10/195, redshirt freshman; Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, preceded by Stockbridge (Ga.) Woodland
S Ryland Ward, Bowling Green; 5-9/204, redshirt freshman; Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven
S Dechante Durante, Northern Illinois; 6-2/195, redshirt freshman; Charlotte Vance
K A.J. Fox, Akron; 5-10/211, true freshman; Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney
P None
KR Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois; 5-8/170, true freshman; Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer
PR Demarius Reed, Eastern Michigan; 5-10/160, true freshman; Chicago Simeon

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