Hustle Belt Power Rankings: Week One

After all the hemming and hawing, all the talking and posturing and speculating, the college football season officially starts today. Which means...more conjecture! Temporarily. Today brings you an early present for the late-week start to the season with the initial, "preseason" Hustle Belt Power Rankings.

Whether you are a Bowling Green apologist secretly masquerading as a blog proprietor or just a plain old fan of relatively drama-free football on Saturdays (and Thursdays, and Tuesdays...) this is your chance to chime in on how the MAC football squads stack up against one another.

You know the drill. Check out the rankings below the jump, and utilize the comments to tell me exactly where you think I went wrong (as if. you fools).

Rank (Pv) Team Record* Plan of Attack
1       NIU  (11-3) The bad-ass offense from last season returns all but two starters, and given its solid depth is unlikely to even miss a beat, let alone regress. The defense lost a decent amount of both talent and depth so they may wind up in a few games of simply trying to outscore some teams. That said, they are still top dog and how much they regress will likely dictate the closeness of the divisional race.
2        UT   (8-5) Much like NIU, an offense that showed flashes last season replaces only a couple of starters and has good replacements available. Unlike NIU, a defense that was average or better will continue to be so, especially if the find ways to start stuffing the run. Also, the two units not taking turns being good might help. They are definitely 1a to Northern Illinois in the conference right now (or vice versa, depending on your pundit preference).
3     MIAMI  (10-4) New coach Don Treadwell has the happy problem of choosing between two dependable QB's, balanced by the sad problem of his most experienced RB having received 35 touches in two seasons as a Redhawk. The defense will continue to be strong after stealing away Kent's DC, and could get even better if they can improve at stopping the run in the second level. Overall they might slip from last season just enough to not run away with the division.
4     OHIO   (8-5) Their offensive success is unpredictable until we see how Tettleton handles full-time, live-action starting QB duties. The defense regains some players who missed large chunks last year due to injury, but time will tell if that will be enough to return to 09 level success or merely offset the starters they lost to graduation. This is one team I don’t expect to see a huge performance swing from – this is a Frank Solich team, after all.
5     KENT   (5-7) The Flash offense continues to improve and returns eight starters, though that may be a limited positive given that none of those returning players are exactly world-beaters. On defense, they lost a lot more but they still have Roosevelt Nix, who is a beast. That’s a lot more than other teams have to work with, so the defense should still be good, but perhaps not as good as last year.
6   TEMPLE   (8-4) The defense that was great at game and damage management last year lost six starters, many of whom are currently at training camp. How much success Temple has this year will depend largely on whether the offense can sustain last season's improvements as an offset (an assessment of both Addazio’s offensive genius and the talent level he is inheriting), but also on whether the Owls recruiting can fill in the defensive talent exodus. Neither of those is close to certain, so there may be a few…hiccups.
7      WMU   (6-6) After a rollercoaster season that saw a 9-3 team play like…well, like a 6-6 team, the offense should get a huge boost from a full season of an up-to-speed Tevin Drake - assuming a line with three new starters gives him room to work. On defense, a secondary that was completely frosh last year should improve, as will the defense along with it - unless they're not just freshman but bad players. This team could easily contend for the title – or the basement. I have no idea.
8      CMU   (3-9) This year the Chips will learn just how good Cody Wilson really is - and whether the rest of the offense can step up their game enough that opposing defenses don’t need to do anything but shut down Radcliff-to-Wilson to win. The defense is in the same position as BGSU, learning how much of last year's problems were experience and how much were talent. They only lost four starters, but they were far and away the four best defenders.
9  BALL ST   (4-8) The Cardinals have moved on to their second new head coach in three seasons. They have plenty of starters returning on offense – from a fairly lackluster squad. The defense had backslid a couple years in a row and has a whole new staff but has lost their D-line depth. Add in road games against USF and OU and a step back may be in order.
10 BUFFALO  (2-10) An offense with no consistency should get help from a refreshed stable of RB's to complement returning almost all their starters and a new offensive minded head coach. Their defense was decent given the hand they were dealt by the offense, though it is hard to know whether a complete turnover for a great-tackling/bad-covering secondary will be a plus or minus. Frosh lineman Wonderful Terrific Monds can’t hurt either.
11 BOWLING   GREEN   (2-10) The Falcon’s offense is dink-and-dunk timing routes and their lone deep threat from last season is gone. Improvement from the O-line would make the biggest difference, and this season will show how much of last year's failure (in general and on defense) was insufficient experience and how much was insufficient skill
12     EMU  (2-10) There's literally nowhere to go but up for the Eagles. Plenty of players are returning on both sides of the ball (for better or worse).Even if the talent and consistency of play doesn’t improve greatly, the team's record should be a touch better than last year based on the ease of their schedule alone.
13  AKRON  (1-11) It can't get much worse this season for the Zips, who lost 7 of 11 games by 14+ points and lost to FCS Gardner-Webb. Sadly, their top two RB's, top 3 WR's and top two RB recruits from last season are all gone. Improvement is on the horizon…somewhere, for a squad who got their team name from a shoe.

*2010 record

There you have it. What have you got to say for yourselves, commenters? Berate me as you must.

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