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Rufus the Bobcat prepares to lead the Ohio University football team onto the field before their game against Iowa State, in Athens, Ohio.

Football: Miami leads early MAC football power rankings

With transfer portal season wrapping up in college football, rosters are beginning to take shape for many of the Mid-American Conference’s premier programs. Although Miami and Toledo seem to be above the rest of the competition heading into 2024, the top of the conference may be as tight as it has been in years.

Early MAC football power rankings:

  1. Miami

The reigning MAC Champions, Miami, will be many experts’ pick to repeat and there should be no surprise as to why. The Redhawks’ quarterback, Brett Gabbert, is poised to make a return from injury in 2024 after an incredibly strong start to his 2023 season. The Redhawks also keep two of their three leading receivers and their top two leading tacklers from a MAC championship-winning side. Although Miami lost its leading rusher and receiver to the portal, the team picked up former Purdue running back Dylan Downing from the transfer portal. 

2. Toledo

Despite the departure of star quarterback Dequan Finn, Toledo’s immediate future is not as bleak as some may think. The Rockets return with their top three receivers and their leading rusher from 2022, Jacquez Stuart. The Rockets’ all-MAC safety Maxen Hook, who finished third on his team in tackles and also accumulated three interceptions, will be an early candidate for MAC Preseason Player of the Year. The Rockets have been the MAC’s most successful regular season team for the last two years and will be a tough team to take down in the MAC’s west division.

3. Northern Illinois

The Huskies have plenty of reasons for optimism in 2024 after a winning season in 2023. Although the Huskies will be without former starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi, the team didn’t pass the ball much anyway. Northern Illinois’ star running back Antario Brown ran for nearly 1,300 yards in 2023 and is a strong preseason candidate for MAC Offensive Player of the Year. The Huskies also bring back their top two leading receivers. Rashein Thomas and Jaden Dolphin return as the two leading tacklers from 2023. The Huskies’ defense allowed just under 22 points per game and is poised for another strong season.

4. Bowling Green

Harold Fannin Jr. and Terion Stewart could make for an impressive offensive duo along with returning quarterback Conor Bazelak. Stewart, the Falcons’ leading rusher from 2023, and Fannin Jr., the Falcons’ leading receiver, were both All-MAC players in 2023 and have a strong chance to make the Falcons’ offense one of the best in the MAC in 2024. 

5. Ohio

The Bobcats were decimated by the transfer portal after the 2023 season. Losing key contributors like Kurtis Rourke, Miles Cross, Sieh Bangura, Will Kacmerak and Keye Thompson to the transfer portal, Ohio will have to turn to some of its younger players to step up to compete for a MAC title. Ohio recently lost its former defensive coordinator, Spence Nowinsky, to Memphis, but its defense should still be able to make the team above average in the MAC. Offensively, the Bobcats will be led by CJ Harris or Parker Navarro at quarterback and most likely standout running back Rickey Hunt.


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