Hyderabad, India (PressExposure) July 14, 2011 -- MAC College NFL Picks: Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference are the two Mid-Major football conferences that not only have an overall title on the line each season, but also include two division races as well. So when handicapping these two for the upcoming season, there are odds posted for each team in terms of winning a conference title as well as odds for each to win their respective division.
Starting with the East Division in C-USA, the odds-on-favorite to win this season are the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at +125. They are coming off an 8-5 season overall in 2010 with a 5-3 record in the conference. The main reason the Golden Eagles are favored to win is that 16 starters are back from last year's squad including quarterback Austin Davis, who threw for 3,103 yards and 20 TD's in 2010. The defense is also stacked with talent and will be led by All-Conference DE Cordarro Law and OLB Ronnie Thornton.
Another team to watch in this division is the Central Florida Knights at +175. They are coming off one of the best seasons in school history with an 11-3 record overall and a 7-1 record in C-USA play. The Knights return seven starters on offense including sophomore quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who is definitely lining up as a player to watch in 2011.
The West Division features the Houston Cougars as a prohibitive -175 favorite. They went just 5-7 last season, but received a tremendous boost for 2011 when quarterback Keenum was granted a sixth season of eligibility after missing the majority of last year with a knee injury. He returns to an offense that was ranked 13th in the nation in scoring last year with an average 37.7 points a game. They will also have WR Patrick Edwards back. He led Houston with 71 receptions for 1,100 yards and 13 TD's in 2010.
The second favorite in the C-USA West is SMU at +225. The Mustangs will have 10 starters back on offense including QB Kyle Padron, who threw for 3,828 yards and 31 TD's last year. They ended the 2010 season ranked 21st in the nation in passing with an average of 275.8 yards a game.
The MAC's East Division is a three-horse race with both Temple and Ohio favored at +200 with Miami (OH.) a close second at +250. The Owls return 13 starters from last year's team that finished 5-3 in the conference and 8-4 overall. Only four starters return to a defense that was ranked 16th in the country in points allowed.
The Bobcats, who went 6-2 in the MAC last season, will rely on QB Tyler Tettleton to lead an offense that returns seven starters from 2010. He is coming off a solid spring, but will be making his first college start on opening day against New Mexico State.
The RedHawks were the story of the year in the MAC last season after going from 1-11 in 2009 to 10-4 last season. While there has been a change at the top with Don Treadwell taking the reins as Miami's new head coach, there will 17 starters back from last year's squad.
The MAC West should also be a close race with Northern Illinois the favorite at +150 followed by Toledo at +175. The Huskies are a traditional power in the MAC and coming off a perfect 8-0 record in conference play last season, but they enter this season with Dave Doeren at the helm after Jerry Kill decided to take the head spot at Minnesota. Doeren already has his work cut out for him on the defensive side of the ball with just two starters back from last year.
The Rockets biggest question mark heading into the 2011 season is who will be their quarterback on opening day as both Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens continue to battle it out for the starting role. Fortunately, Toledo returns RB Adonis Thomas, who rushed for 1,098 yards last year, and WR Eric Page, who caught 99 balls for 1,105 yards, to make things easier for which ever player gets the nod.
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