Each year, one conference stands out among the others which confounds sportsbooks betting odds, at least early, and leaves many others putting together college football picks scratching their heads.
Last year it was the Pac-12, as only four of its members had winning spread records, with several others at or very close to .500.
If you go back over the past decade, as a college football handicapper it is usually easy to spot which conference could have underdogs covering at a higher than anticipated rate. Follow the trail of conference with a good number of returning quarterbacks and look for when they are underdogs, especially against teams which might not have an experienced signal caller that is all that talented.
The one league that stand out more than the rest in 2015 is the MAC and in a couple places you have to dig a little deeper to understand against the college football odds. A strong field general on any given day can get hot early in a game and build a lead his team will not relinquish. He could also lead a second half comeback or even engineer the old - backdoor cover - in the waning seconds of a contest which frustrates one bettor to high anxiety and relieves the other.
Here is a look at the returning quarterbacks who could make life very intriguing in the MAC.
Though Bowling Green and Toledo are favored to win their divisions in the MAC, they will underdogs in non-conference action and in league play this season. The Falcons welcome back Matt Johnson, who started 13 games in 2013 and was lost with season-ending knee injury in last year's opener against Western Michigan. Fully healed, the senior is thought to be able to have a big season in 2014.
Former Alabama transfer Phillip Ely is also back from knee surgery and opposing conference foes have privately said if Ely's 100 percent healthy, the Rockets could be the team to beat in this league.
Other Quarterbacks Who Could Carry Their Teams
Many other teams are not as highly thought of and have quite a bit more weaknesses, which is why they are picked on the lower levels of the MAC. Yet each of these signal callers could help their teams spring the upset, or beat the oddsmakers numbers at places like WagerWeg.ag.
Buffalo has a cool customer in senior Joe Licata, who is fundamentally strong and already holds the school record for touchdown passes with 60.
Kent State junior Colin Reardon needs a running game to help him avoid inconsistency and if that happens the Golden Flashes will cover more spreads.
Derrius Vick missed time last year, but is poised for his important senior campaign and has the last year's group of offensive linemen returning and if WR Sebastion Smith and TE Troy Mangen continue to develop, Ohio U. should have a winning season.
Not sure what is going to happen to Massachusetts football after this year, but the best pure passer in this conference is Blake Frohnapfel. He engineered the Minutemen to the top passing offense in the MAC and 11th in country and if the nine returning defensive players improve, this club will be a handful.
Central Michigan has a brand new coaching staff and they would be wise to make the most use out of QB Copper Rush, who is in his third season as a starter and still a junior. Rush had memorable seven -touchdown performance in the Bahamas Bowl, leading the Chippewas to unfathomable cover as 3.5-point underdogs in 49-48 final.
Who isn't excited about the prospects of a still youthful Western Michigan squad that is rising swiftly, led by Zach Terrell, who threw for 3,443 yards, 26 TD's and lead the conference in pass efficiency.
Drew Hare took over the quarterback position for Northern Illinois and had big shoes to fill from three-year starters who played remarkable before him. However, he did the job and bigger things are presumed to happen for him this season.
The MAC might not be on everyone's wagering radar, but start following these teams now and when these quarterbacks are covering as underdogs, remember Doug Upstone told you this in August.