#1 Western Michigan Broncos (11-0, 7-0)
The Broncos can cross “Host College GameDay” off that list of “nevers” P.J. Fleck loves to refer to. Kalamazoo and the university did an outstanding job hosting ESPN’s best pregame show, and now they’ll have to shake off the publicity hangover and take on Toledo, who I’m sure has revenge in mind for last year.
#2 Toledo Rockets (9-2, 6-1)
It’s the MAC game of the century of the year. Logan Woodside versus Zach Terrell. Jarvion Franklin and Kareem Hunt. Winner heads to Detroit for the MAC championship. The Rockets, after losing to Ohio, looked as though they might be due for their typical late season letdown, but have instead responded by making the Black Friday showdown in Kalamazoo every bit as important as we expected.
#3 Ohio Bobcats (7-4, 5-2)
Ahh, November. It’s that time of year that bridges the parts of Autumn that you love and the parts of Winter that you absolutely loathe. If you’re an Ohio fan, the changing of the leaves usually indicates bad things are on the horizon, and while their equation for a MAC East title is still the same - just win, baby - the door has been left open for rival Miami to sneak into the title game. The Bobcats just have to beat Akron to avoid this terrible disaster
#4 Miami RedHawks (5-6, 5-2)
Not everyone thinks this is a disaster. For Miami, quite the opposite is true. The 0-6 start had many (including me) wondering if Chuck Martin was cut out to lead this team into the future, but now those same people are dining on a big plate of crow. The return of Gus Ragland has paid dividends, and the RedHawks are a win over Ball State and an Ohio loss away from a division title. What a time to be alive.
#5 Central Michigan Chippewas (6-5, 3-4)
The Chippewas seemed destined to fall to 2-5 in conference play, but stole a win at home from championship seeking Ohio 27-20. That sets up Cooper Rush and company for a date with Eastern Michigan and the right to be Michigan’s second best directional football team.
#6 Northern Illinois Huskies (4-7, 4-3)
Say what you will about the Huskies, but they still perform well in the MAC. After a disastrous start to the season, NIU is closing in on a 5-3 MAC record after a win over Eastern Michigan on the road in overtime. Who knows, with a healthy Anthony Maddie, maybe the Huskies made a push for a seventh straight MAC West title?
#7 Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-5, 3-4)
It seems like just yesterday EMU sat at third in these same power rankings before its date with Western Michigan. And they played well, too, making some Broncos (like me) fear the worst. Since then, the Eagles have dropped games to Miami and NIU and reminded us all that winning in a program with the sort of history the Eagles have is a tough process, and one that won’t just happen overnight.
#8 Bowling Green Falcons (3-8, 2-5)
What began as a disaster has turned into quite the late season run for Mike Jinks’ Falcons. A team in transition has one job, and that’s to improve over the course of the season. There’s no question this version of the Falcons is far different from the one that was trounced handily by Memphis and Ohio State, and quarterback James Morgan seems to be coming into his own.
#9 Akron Zips (5-6, 3-4)
At 4-2 with a blowout win over Marshall in hand, the Zips looked like they could be the class of the conference if they stayed healthy. Now, even healthy, that doesn’t seem to be the case. To get bowl eligible the Zips will need to beat Ohio on the road and potentially deny them a division title.
#10 Ball State Cardinals (4-7, 1-6)
If I told you three weeks into the season that the Miami-Ball State game would be between one team looking to get bowl eligible and another seeking its second MAC win, would you believe the latter was the Cardinals? That’s the case tonight as the Neu era welcomes in a Neu rivalry that’s actually an old rivalry. To win, the Cardinals will need a big performance out of its backfield, which was held in check by Toledo in the fog last week.
#11 Kent State Golden Flashes (3-8, 2-5)
Without the win over Central Michigan, Kent State would be looking at having just a single MAC win over Buffalo. Not exactly a season to write home about. The Flashes get a shot at the NIU Huskies to make things look a little better, but it’s safe to say that the offensive performance from this team was disappointing once again, with the installment of Nick Holley under center injecting only so much life.
#12 Buffalo Bulls (2-9, 1-6)
It’s basketball season, Bulls fans. But hey, your team was sort of featured on College GameDay. I’m not sure Grant Rohach was the best option as the starter, even if Tyree Jackson was struggling, but the shutout may have been inevitable against a Bronco team ready for its moment in the national spotlight. The Bulls need to see some significant improvement next season, or Lance Leipold’s tenure in Buffalo could prove a short one.