Falcons picked to finish fourth in MAC East


DETROIT — Toledo and Ohio have been selected to win their respective divisions in the 2023 Mid-American Conference football head coaches’ preseason poll.

Bowling Green was picked to finish fourth in the MAC East behind Ohio (63 points), Miami (52), Buffalo (51), and the Falcons had 35 points in the coaches’ voting. Akron (26) and Kent State (19) rounded out the division. Ohio had nine first place votes, Miami had two, and Buffalo had one.

Head coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll. The poll was announced Thursday as the MAC held its annual kickoff ceremony at historic Fox Theater in downtown Detroit.

Bowling Green 6-foot, 180-pound senior wide receiver Odieu Hiliare said at the MAC kickoff that he believes his team will exceed last year’s six-win season.

“This team is very competitive. We do a lot more things together without coaches,” Hiliare said. “We just compete. We just work and we want to get each other better. I feel like that is going to help us go over the top and get more wins than we had last year.”

For BGSU fifth-year coach Scot Loeffler, the program has been a work in progress, but now he believes the “in progress” is behind him.

The gains during Loeffler’s tenure started to take root in 2021 and by 2022 Bowling Green was back in a bowl game for the first time since 2015 as the Falcons took part in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Bowling Green became one of four FBS programs in 2022 whose win totals improved 4+ games from 2020 to 2021 and then improved by at least two games from 2021 to 2022. Joining BGSU on the list were Kansas State, Oregon State and Tennessee.

When Loeffler spoke to Bowling Green Exchange Club luncheon guests last Tuesday at the Bowling Green Country Club, Exchange Club officer Jenny Swope said, “He inherited a program in distress and has been working his way back,” when introducing the coach.

Loeffler had spoken to the Exchange Club in late winter before his first season, so his reprisal was met with applause after the team was one game away from reaching the MAC championship game last year.

“We’ve stuck to the plan. Every single thing that I said in front of you guys years ago we’ve done,” Loeffler said.

“I take great pride in the fact that we’ve stayed in the business model. I’m proud and extremely excited to say that we’ll be a competitive program the rest of my tenure here at BG.

“We came from the dark ages to now becoming a very powerful, very smart good organization that has good kids, good families, guys who believe in each other and guys who are going to win championships and make the university proud, like how (former BGSU coach) Dave (Clawson) did it a few years ago.”

First of all, Loeffler said the priority was eliminating the disciplinary issues.

“We’ve recruited extremely good student-athletes from great families — that has been our mantra,” Loeffler said. “They are going to do right in this community, knock on wood. My first two years here every day at 2:30 in the morning I was getting a phone call.

“I haven’t had a phone call in two years here. Knock on wood — hopefully I didn’t jinx myself, that is for sure. But to make a long story short, I’m very excited about BG football.”

Rockets to win the West

In the MAC West, Toledo garnered 11 of 12 first place votes and totaled 66 points, followed by Eastern Michigan (55), which had the other first place vote, Northern Illinois (38), Central Michigan (37), Ball State (27), and Western Michigan (23).

As far as the MAC championship, Toledo led with seven votes, Ohio had four and Buffalo one vote.

The Rockets also received seven votes to win the MAC Football Championship Game title, while the Bobcats received four votes when it came to selecting who will take home the MAC crown. Buffalo claimed the other Championship vote.

Toledo, MAC West Division champions in 2022, defeated East Division champion Ohio, 17-7, in the MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit. The Rockets went on to defeat Liberty in the Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl on their way to a 9-5 record.

Coach Jason Candle’s Rockets return seven All-MAC players from last year’s team, including junior quarterback Dequan Finn and All-American cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

Ohio finished the 2022 season 10-4 overall, 7-1 against MAC opponents and 6-0 at home. They wrapped up their record-setting performance with a 30-27 overtime victory against Wyoming in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl.

The 2022 season marked the Bobcats’ first 10-win season since 2011 and the fourth in program history.



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