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> East Division

Akron

Coach: Rob Ianello (1st year)

2009 Record: 3-9 (2-6)

Preseason Media Poll: 7

Key Players: Patrick Nicely and Matt Rodgers vie for the nod at QB as Zips abandon the spread for a pro set.

Quick Kick: Ianello spent last five seasons as a Notre Dame offensive assistant.

Bowling Green

Coach: Youngstown native Dave Clawson (2nd year)

Preseason Media Poll: 4

2009 Record: 7-6 (6-2)

Key Players: Sr. RB Willie Geter ran for 116 and 2 TDs vs. Temple and 92 and 2 TDs vs. Idaho in Humanitarian Bowl.

Quick Kick: Lost seven offensive starters, including standout QB Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes.

Buffalo

Coach: Jeff Quinn (1st year)

2009 Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Preseason Media Poll: 6.

Key Players: Detailed elsewhere in this section.

Kent State

Coach: Doug Martin (7th year)

2009 Record: 5-7 (4-4)

Preseason Media Poll: 3.

Key Players: Returning All-MAC DB Brian Lainhart was named to Jim Thorpe watch list for nation's top DBs. Diminutive and elusive RB Eugene Jarvis returns after being granted a sixth-year of eligibility following season-ending injury last year. He needs 564 yards to set school career rushing record. QB Spencer Keith (2,147 yards and 14 TDs as freshman in '09).

Quick Kick: Returns nine offensive starters.

Miami

Coach: Mike Haywood (2nd year)

2009 Record: 1-11 (1-7)

Preseason Media Poll: 5

Key Players: QB Zac Dysert four times threw for at least 337 yards in '09, and 426 effort vs. Temple is best in school history by anyone not named Ben Roethlisberger.

Quick Kick: The rebuilding continues with season opener -- at Florida.

Ohio

Coach: Frank Solich (6th year)

2009 Record: 9-5 (7-1)

Preseason Media Poll: 2

Key Players: MLB Noah Keller ranked sixth in nation in total tackles last year. Dangerous receiving corps in LaVon Brazill (53-702-6) and 6-foot-4 Terrence McCrae (35-545-9). Brazill returned three punts for TDs in '09.

Quick Kick: Fred Reed, last year's defensive coordinator at UB, is CBs coach for Bobcats team that was plus-13 in turnover margin in 2009.

Temple

Coach: Al Golden (5th year)

2009 Record: 9-4 (7-1)

Preseason Media Poll: 1.

Key Players: Sophomore RB Bernard Pierce being touted by school as Heisman candidate after rushing for 1,361 yards and 16 TDs in eight starts. DB Jaiquawn Jarrett named to Jim Thorpe watch list for nation's top DBs.

Quick Kick: If Owls play to potential, Golden should move on to greener pastures.

> West Division

Northern Illinois

Coach: Jerry Kill (3rd year)

2009 Record: 7-6 (5-3)

Preseason Media Poll: 1

Key Players: Sr. TB Chad Spann accumulated 1,060 yards and 19 TDs for run-oriented Huskies. WR Landon Cox (45-535-4) is key to success of receiving corps.

Quick Kick: Huskies, who outrushed opponents by almost 1,000 yards in '09, host UB on Oct. 16.

Central Michigan

Coach: Dan Enos (1st year)

2009 Record: 12-2 (8-0)

Preseason Media Poll: 2

Key Players: Lost a ton from last year's team, including QB Dan LeFevour. Returning LBs Nick Bellore and Matt Berning had more than 100 tackles apiece last year.

Quick Kick: Enos was RB coach at Michigan State last three years, as '09 head coach Butch Jones took over for Brian Kelly at Cincinnati.

Western Michigan

Coach: Bill Cubit (6th year)

2009 Record: 5-7 (4-4)

Preseason Media Poll: 3

Key Players: Retooling after departure of QB Tim Hiller and leading rusher Brandon West. Michigan transfer Dan O'Neill (6-7, 309) joins experienced offensive line.

Quick Kick: Defensive tackle John Rice is nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

Toledo

Coach: Tim Beckman (2nd year)

2009 Record: 5-7 (4-4)

Preseason Media Poll: 4

Key Players: WR Eric Page led nation's freshman with 82 catches and 1,159 receiving yards in '09.

Quick Kick: Freshman David Fluellen (Lockport) with program.

Ball State

Coach: Stan Parrish (2nd year)

2009 Record: 2-10 (2-6)

Preseason Media Poll: 5

Key Players: RB MiQuale Lewis was granted a fifth year of eligibility after injuries in '09. He rushed for 1,736 yards and 22 TDs in '08, when Cardinals lost to UB in MAC title game. Visit UB on Nov. 12.

Quick Kick: Parrish was QB coach when Tampa Bay won Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003 and tutored Tom Brady at Michigan.

Eastern Michigan

Coach: Ron English

2009 Record: 0-12 (0-8)

Preseason Media Poll: 6

Key Players: Can 6-4, 390-pound Juco transfer Lavon McCoy revitalize the O-line? He comes from, aptly, the College of the Sequoias.

Quick Kick: EMU, outscored 459-197 last year, visits UB on Nov. 20.

e-mail: bdicesare@buffnews.com