RedHawks voted fifth in MAC East

It was announced during Media Day at Ford Field that the RedHawks, coming off back-to-back 4-8 campaigns, have been picked to finish fifth in the seven-team East Division.

“As a player and as a leader, you don’t really pay attention to that because that’s what possibly could be,” MU redshirt senior quarterback Austin Boucher said. “All we know is if we take care of business, the rest of that stuff will take care of itself.”

Senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley said Miami’s goals are simple.

“MAC title. Bowl game. Those are always our goals,” Nunley said. “People are doubting us, so let’s go out and prove everybody wrong.”

Ohio is the media’s choice to win the East, with the Bobcats garnering 15 first-place votes. Runner-up Bowling Green is next with eight No. 1 votes, while No. 3 Kent State and No. 4 Buffalo received one first-place vote apiece.

MU was firmly fifth. A sizable voting gap separated the RedHawks from the Bulls and No. 6 Akron. Massachusetts placed last.

“Our focus will continue to be on ourselves,” MU coach Don Treadwell said. “It’s what we do that matters, how we prepare. With the tradition we have, we’re always going to have the bigger picture in the back of our minds, but our guys are focused on the process.”

Bowling Green and Miami lead the MAC in returning starters (offense, defense and specialists), the Falcons with 20 and the RedHawks with 19.

MU has produced a losing record in six of the last seven seasons. Miami was the MAC champion in 2010.

Injury-plagued Ohio lost four of its last six games in 2012, but won its finale 45-14 over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl. The Bobcats have been a bowl team five times in eight years under Frank Solich.

“It’s a conference that’s so close in terms of the coaching and the talent,” Solich said. “I think the fact that we were picked first is a measure of respect for what our team has gotten accomplished of late. In being the favorite, we certainly accept that and we’ll do our best. We have a team that’s very capable of playing good football.”

Northern Illinois, which lost to Florida State 31-10 in the Orange Bowl last season, was voted No. 1 in the West Division, followed by Toledo, Ball State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

NIU is also favored to win the MAC championship game. The Huskies picked up 14 of the 25 votes in that portion of the poll — Toledo and Ohio both got three.

The conference has three new head coaches this year: Rod Carey of Northern Illinois, Paul Haynes of Kent State and P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan. Carey did coach the Huskies in the Orange Bowl after Dave Doeren left for North Carolina State.

Fleck, 32, is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Toledo’s Matt Campbell and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury are both 33.

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