Study: Common factors in the last 5 MAC champions

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday June 29, 2017

How do you win the MAC? Take a look at what the last five league champions have done against MAC opponents.

- All five champions have finished in the top 2 in scoring D in conference games. While the MAC may be thought of for mid-week games and high-scoring affairs, it’s the teams with the best defenses that win the league.

- But the teams also put up their share of points. All finished in the top four in scoring offense, and four scored more than 38 points per game.

- Most important offensively has been big plays: Five of the past six MAC champs led the league in plays of 30-plus yards in MAC games, while 2014 NIU was 4th.

- Interestingly, while they’ve all been great at keeping points off the board, the last four champions haven’t been particularly good in rushing D, 3rd down D or red zone D. However…

- All five finished in the top two in turnover margin. The defenses force turnovers, all finishing in the top three in takeaways in league games.

- Northern Illinois made six straight MAC title games from 2011-15, but went 5-7 overall last year.

- Of note, although 2013 Bowling Green was last in the league in red zone D, they only allowed 13 trips to the red zone in conference play, the fewest of any team in the country.

- What’s in store for 2016? Miami (OH) won its final six regular season games and is the second-most experienced team in the country. Coming off an undefeated season, Western Michigan has a new coach and a new QB. Central Michigan has a new OC and brings back eight offensive starters. Will NIU get a bounceback season? Frank Solich quietly always has Ohio in the mix.

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Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to