The Ohio Bobcats and Toledo Rockets have been selected to win the East and West Divisions respectfully in the 2019 Mid-American Conference Football Media Preseason Poll. The poll was announced at the league’s annual MAC Football Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit and was determined by members of the league’s media members. Ohio was also selected to win the 2019 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game.
In the East Division, Ohio was selected first with a league-best and unanimous 144 total points. Following the Bobcats, the Miami RedHawks finished second with 107 points, while defending MAC East Champion Buffalo Bulls finished third with 100 points. Kent State finished fourth with 62 points, followed by Akron and Bowling Green.
In the West Division, Toledo was selected first in the Division with 127 total points. Following the Rockets, Western Michigan finished second with 112 points, while defending MAC Champion NIU was third with 103 points. Eastern Michigan ranked fourth with 83 points, followed by Ball State and Central Michigan.
This reflects on the competitive nature of the MAC. In the last three years, six different MAC programs have competed in the Marathon MAC Football Championship Game and every football program has received an invitation to a bowl game during the last seven years (2012-18).
Ohio garnered at unanimous 24 first-place votes for a league-best 144 total points in the East Division. The Bobcats return 43 letter-winners and 14 starters from last year’s 9-4 team that finished second in the East Division with a 6-2 Conference record, as the Bobcats went on to deliver a 27-0 shutout victory over San Diego State in the 2018 DXL Frisco Bowl, marking the first-ever shutout in a bowl game in MAC history.
Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich is in his 15th year in leading the Ohio football program and is the third-winningest coach in MAC history with 106 career wins. Solich needs three wins to become the all-time winningest coach in Ohio history (Bill Hess, 108) and five wins to become the all-time winningest coach in MAC history (Herb Deromedi, 110).
Solich and his Bobcats are searching for Ohio’s first MAC football championship since 1968. The Bobcats offense will be paced by quarterback Nathan Rourke, who passed for 2,434 yards and 23 touchdowns and added 15 rushing touchdowns and 860 yards last season. Ohio will have offensive threats from wide receiver Cameron Odom, who had 30 receptions for 418 yards and two touchdowns last season. Defensively, safety Javon Hagan, who had 78 total tackles and two interceptions last season, and linebackers Dylan Conner and Jared Dorsa will lead the Ohio defense.
Toledo racked up 15 first-place votes in the West Division to pace the Rockets to first place with 127 total points. Toledo welcomes back 50 letter-winners and 14 starters from last year’s team that went 7-6 overall, finished tied for second in the MAC West with a 5-3 Conference record and suffered a 35-32 loss to Florida International in the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
Fourth-year head coach Jason Candle and his Rockets are looking to get back to Detroit for the Marathon MAC Football Championship Game, a scene only two years ago where Toledo won the 2017 title with a 45-28 win over Akron.
Candle will look to senior quarterback Mitchell Guadagni to lead the offense as he started seven games last season with 1,053 yards passing and 13 touchdowns after his season ended early due to injury. A steady Rockets ground game, led by sophomore Bryant Koback, who led the team and ranked fifth in the MAC with 917 yards rushing and tied for second with 14 rushing touchdowns, and junior Shakif Seymour, who added 565 yards rushing and five touchdowns, will assist Guadagni and the Toledo offense. Defensively, a strong secondary led by DeDarallo Blue, who posted 41 tackles last season, Khalil Robinson, who totaled 69 tackles and one interception last year, and Jamal Hines, who added 49 tackles and two interceptions last season, will lead the Rockets defense.
The 2019 season kicks off on Thursday, August 29 and the 2019 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game is Saturday, December 7 at Noon ET on ESPN or ESPN2 from Ford Field.
The complete poll follows:
Team (First Place Votes) Points
MAC East Division
1. Ohio (24) 144
2. Miami 107
3. Buffalo 100
4. Kent State 62
5. Akron 54
6. Bowling Green 37
MAC West Division
1. Toledo (15) 127
2. Western Michigan (5) 112
3. Northern Illinois (3) 103
4. Eastern Michigan 83
5. Ball State 43
6. Central Michigan (1) 36
2019 MAC Championship Game Winner: Ohio (13); Toledo (7); Western Michigan (2); Northern Illinois (1); Central Michigan (1).