Wednesday, August 4, 2004

RedHawks picked 2nd in MAC East


Toledo, Marshall picked by media to meet in MAC title game

The Associated Press

DETROIT - After fresh faces met in the Mid-American Conference title game last year, two familiar foes - Toledo and Marshall - are expected to meet in this year's championship.

The teams have played four times in the MAC championship since the game was created in 1997. At MAC media day Tuesday, they were chosen as preseason favorites to win their divisions and meet in the conference title game.

The Rockets, who earned 278 points in media voting, were chosen to win the MAC West over Northern Illinois, which got 225 votes. In the MAC East, Marshall was chosen the preseason favorite over defending conference champion Miami of Ohio, earning 258 points to Miami's 257.

Toledo was chosen to beat Marshall in the MAC title game, which takes place Dec. 2.

"We didn't really enjoy watching the game last year on TV as much as we enjoyed playing in it," Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz said. "I keep that close in my mind as motivation to get back in that game. I look at last year as unfinished business."

Toledo has eight returning starters on offense off of a team that finished in a tie for second in the West division last year, headlined by junior quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who set a MAC record by completing 71.2 percent of his passes a year ago.

The Rockets also return senior wideout Lance Moore, who led the nation last year with 8.58 receptions a game.

Marshall finished second in the East division last year and failed to advance to the championship game for the first time since joining the MAC in 1997. But the team was picked to win the East on the strength of what could be the conferences top returning defense.

Eight starters return for the Thundering Herd defensively on a unit that led the MAC in total defense and pass defense.

Offensively, senior quarterback Stan Hill and senior wideout Josh Davis also return for to give the Thundering Herd a dangerous passing combination in what will be their last year in the MAC before moving on to Conference USA next season.

"We play for championships," Hill said. "We worked hard this offseason to take back the MAC."

Bowling Green was picked to finish third in the West with 223 points, followed by Western Michigan (154), Ball State (118), Central Michigan (84) and Eastern Michigan (66). Rounding out the voting in the East after Miami was Akron (188), Central Florida (176) Kent State (119), Ohio (82) and Buffalo (67).

NOTES

The MAC announced that commissioner Rick Chryst has been given a contract extension through the 2008-09 academic year. Chryst will enter his sixth season as MAC commissioner this year.

MAC Preseason Poll

EAST DIVISION

Team (First-Place Votes)Points
1. Marshall (21)258
2. Miami (18)257
3. Akron (1)188
4. UCF (11)176
5. Kent State119
6. Ohio82
7. Buffalo67

WEST DIVISION

Team (First-Place Votes)Points
1. Toledo (34)278
2. Northern Illinois (3)225
3. Bowling Green (9)223
4. Western Michigan154
5. Ball State118
6. Central Michigan84
7. Eastern Michigan66

MAC Championship Game Winner

Toledo (22); Marshall (9); Bowling Green (3); Miami (3); Northern Illinois (3); Akron (1).

Note: Points awarded on the basis of 7-6-5-4-3-2-1.




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