It might still be summer, but it’s never too early to start thinking about betting on college football.
The season is set to kick off in just over a month, with a handful of games getting things started in “Week Zero” on Aug. 27.
The Mid-American Conference will have to wait until Week 1 to get things rolling in what should be another exciting year in the MAC.
History tells us that it’s anyone’s conference as 11 teams have played for the title since 2015, and no team has won it back-to-back since 2011-2012.
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However, Northern Illinois currently wears the crown and with much of last year’s team returning, has a solid chance of a repeat. When it comes to the three Michigan teams, Central Michigan is ahead of Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan on the odds boards posted by Michigan sports betting apps.
Mid-American Conference Championship Odds
The major Michigan sports betting apps have Toledo as a consensus favorite to win the conference, slightly edging out Miami and Northern Illinois. Here’s a look at the current odds and this year’s favorites.
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Favorite in the West: Toledo Rockets
The West is a little tighter than the East, with Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan all looking like contenders.
Toledo has the talent to go all the way but is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw it lose five one-score games.
Quarterback Dequan Finn leads an offense that put up 33.4 points per game last year and looks like a rising star. Finn will have top receiver Devin Maddox back in the mix, and the Rockets will have four players returning on the offensive line.
Toledo’s defense was strong last season, leading the conference in the fewest yards per play (4.8) and points against (21.8). Eight starters are returning, so there’s no reason to think things will be much different this year.
The biggest hurdle for the Rockets making it to the final this year will be defending champs Northern Illinois. The Huskies crushed Kent State 41-23 in last year’s championship game and will have 17 starters returning.
Toledo fell to NIU last season and will look to avenge the loss on Oct. 8 on the road in a game that should have championship implications.
Favorite in the East: Miami RedHawks
The books like the RedHawks to return to the conference title game for the first time since 2019.
Junior quarterback Brett Gabbert (brother of Blaine, but don’t hold that against him) is coming off a solid season and will look to take his team all the way this year. His top target Jack Sorenson is gone, but he’ll have receivers Mac Hippenhammer and Jalen Walker back to carry the load.
The RedHawks had one of the league’s top offensive lines last year and will see four starters returning this season, so they should be able to run the ball again.
Miami’s defense allowed the fewest points per game (22.0) in the conference last year and will have six starters back.
The only team that should compete with the RedHawks in the East is Kent State. Look forward to a showdown on Oct. 8 in a game that will possibly decide which team will play in the championship game this year.
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The Michigan squads were solid in the MAC last year with a combined record of 24-15. Central Michigan led the way with a 9-4 record, while WMU and EMU finished at 8-5 and 7-6, respectively.
The Chippewas finished strong last year, winning seven of eight, including a Sun Bowl victory over Washington State.
While they should once again be the strongest Michigan team in the conference, they’ll have to do it without many of last year’s stars.
Coach Jim McElwain’s team lost two of its best offensive linemen — Bernhard Raimann (Indianapolis Colts) and Luke Goedeke (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — to the NFL. The defense also has holes to fill, with many of its stars being poached, including leading tackler Greg Kreski.
The good news is that running back Lew Nichols III (1,848 yards) and quarterback Daniel Richardson (2,583 yards, 24 TDs) are returning and will lead an offense that averaged 32.3 points per game last season.
Eastern Michigan made it to its fourth bowl game in six years in 2021 on the strength of a strong passing game. The Eagles will have to do it with a new pivot this season after last year’s starter Ben Bryant returned to Cincinnati.
Quarterback Taylor Powell will take the helm, and he’ll have plenty of options to throw to, as Hassan Beydoun, Tanner Knue, and Dylan Drummond will all be returning.
The Eagles will look to vastly improve their running game after averaging 2.9 yards per carry last season. The defense also needs to tighten up, especially against the run.
EMU gave up 197.7 yards per game on the ground in 2021. This season, five defensive starters will be back in the fold, including defensive end Jose Ramirez (6.5 sacks).
The Broncos are coming off an 8-5 season, but it still felt like a disappointment. The team was loaded with talent and finished first in total defense and second in total offense in the MAC.
WMU averaged 32.5 points per game last season but will now be without quarterback Kaleb Eleby and top receivers Skyy Moore and Jaylen Moore. While the QB position is now up for grabs, the Broncos will rely on the rushing combo of Sean Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson. The pair was excellent last season, combining for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The defense should be solid again, with seven starters returning, including linebacker Corvin Moment (68 tackles).
AP Photo/Andres Leighton