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2017 MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 9

Sometimes, right as you think you understand #MACtion, it throws you a curveball.

Kenneth Bailey


That’s the number of writers we have that vote on these rankings, and up until this point, we never really had agreement on much of anything.

The MAC has been more unpredictable than ever this year, and with weeknight #MACtion starting soon, the road to Detroit is muddier than ever, as results thus far have shown both division titles are up for grabs. But we finally agreed on at least one thing, and that one thing will probably get swept under the rug due to a statistical anomaly.

It’s been really a tough stretch for our writers recently, trying to put all these teams into slots, but this week, the chart played us dirty.

You’re about to see what I mean below:

12. (tied) Ball State Cardinals (previous week: 10)/Kent State Golden Flashes (PW: 11)/Bowling Green Falcons (PW: 11)

  • Ball State: low vote: 12 (three times); high vote: 10 (three times); average vote: 11
  • Kent State: low vote: 12 (once); high vote: 10 (once); average vote: 11
  • Bowling Green: low vote: 12 (four times); high vote: 10 (four times); average vote: 11

What the hell is this mess?

I can’t begin to describe how sad this is to think about. Three teams tied for dead last in our power rankings. Every team received the same exact number of points (88), placing them all 11th. Alas, we can’t well leave the 12th spot open, so here all three teams are at 12.

All three had bad weeks in Week 8, suffering blowout losses to each of their opponents. The basement will be crowded this week, but at least the crowd will know each other.

9. Miami RedHawks (PW: 9)

  • Record: 3-5 overall (2-2 MAC)
  • Low vote: 9 (five times); high vote: 7 (three times)
  • Average vote: 8.25

The RedHawks fall victim to the Black Hole of Sadness below them, as an average vote score which would normally put them in eighth keeps them down to ninth instead. The RedHawks did all right with Billy Bahl at QB against Buffalo, but the Bulls are starting a litany of backups on offense, so it isn’t exactly a great win. At least they’re staying on the right side of the win column.

8. Buffalo Bulls (PW: 6)

  • Record: 3-5 overall (1-2 MAC)
  • Low vote: 9 (twice)
  • High vote: 6 (twice)
  • Average vote: 7.25

A loss to Miami wasn’t the plan for the Buffalo Bulls, who were forced to depend on true freshman Kyle Vantrasce to try and salage a win against a down, but not out RedHawks squad. The Bulls still have a good chance to finish .500 on the year in a down MAC East.

7. Eastern Michigan Eagles (PW: 5)

  • Record: 2-5 overall (0-3 MAC)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.75

We could be talking about an undefeated EMU this season if just a few games went a different way, but instead, they sit at 2-5 and winless in the MAC thanks to yet another one-possession loss, this time to rival Western Michigan. In those losses, EMU has lost by a combined 20 points over five games. If they score one more touchdown in those five losses, the Eagles pick up at least four wins out of the bunch and tie one game. Yikes.

It just hurts to be an Eagles fan. But at least the hurt feels better than the hurt of a few years ago.

6. Central Michigan Chippewas (PW: 8)

  • Record: 4-4 overall (2-2 MAC)
  • Low vote: 8 (three times)
  • High vote: 5 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.625

The Chips squeeze ahead of EMU by average vote, but they smashed the hapless Ball State Cardinals on the way to a much-needed 56-9 victory to keep their bowl hopes alive ahead of the BYE Week.

CMU is getting healthier on the offensive side of the ball just in time, as Corey Willis hauled in three touchdowns and Tyler Conklin has also proved to be a problem as a secondary target option. Romello Ross and Kumehnnu Gwilly have also been major contributors on the rushing side. They next face hated rival WMU.

5. Akron Zips (PW: 6)

  • Record: 4-4 overal (3-1 MAC)
  • Low vote: 7 (twice)
  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.25

Somehow, the Zips managed to fail their way upward, moving one position to fifth after a trouncing at the hands of the Toledo Rockets on the road in Week 8. Call it attrition, as EMU fell two spots and CMU jumped two spots unexpectedly due to the averages.

Regardless, the Zips are still in the drivers seat to win the MAC East, standing at 3-1 in the conference with a patented paper-cut offense that likes to make the game ugly on offense and limit possessions on the defensive side. It’s a formula that’s worked so far for Terry Bowden and the gang.

4. Western Michigan Broncos (PW: 4)

  • Record: 5-3 overall (3-1 MAC)
  • Low vote: 5 (twice)
  • High vote: 4 (six times)
  • Average vote: 4.25

The Broncos returned to their winning ways in Week 8, albeit due to a Paulie Fricano field goal miss from inside the 20-yard line. They’re now 3-1 in the MAC and still pursuing the top of the leaderboard. They’ll have to do so without Jon Wassink, who broke his collarbone and will be out for the rest of the season.

True freshman Reece Goddard will get his first chance to lead the offense on Wednesday night #MACtion against rival Central Michigan.

3. Ohio Bobcats (PW: 3)

  • Record: 62 overall (3-1 MAC)
  • Low vote: 3 (six times)
  • High vote: 2 (twice)
  • Average vote: 2.75

Ohio knocked the brakes off of the Kent State Golden Flashes in a 48-3 spanking to regain at least a split of the MAC East division lead. The path doesn’t get easier from here for the Bobcats, however. A rivalry matchup against the RedHawks on national TV awaits the Bobcats in Week 10, and then they’ll have to host MAC favorite Toledo and play for their divisional lives on the road against Akron.

Real make it or break it stuff right there.

2. Northern Illinois Huskies (PW: 2)

  • Record:5-2 overall (3-0 MAC)
  • Low vote: 3 (twice)
  • High vote: 2 (six times)
  • Average vote: 2.25

NIU gonna NIU.

Despite a game of musical chairs starting at quarterback, the Huskies have found a way to stay undefeated in the MAC thanks to a stud defense which currently ranks 12th in the country, a massive improvement over the 2016 NIU roster. Sutton Smith has been a revealation at the defensive end position and Shawun Lurry and the rest of the defensive backfield have caused nightmares for opposing offenses.

One knock against the Huskies would be their strength of schedule. In their three conference wins, they’ve faced Buffalo, Kent State and Bowling Green. That isn’t exactly a killer’s row. EMU and Toledo are next up on the schedule for NIU to prove its mettle.

Toledo Rockets (PW: 1)

  • Record: 6-1 overall (3-0 MAC)
  • Unanimous #1

The Rockets are living up to the hype, riding one of the country’s best offenses to an incredible first half of the season. What’s better is that their only loss to Miami (FL) now looks pretty decent thanks to the Hurricanes having a resurgent season under Mark Richt. They could have an outside chance at the College Football Playoff Top 25, and should definitely be considered for New Year’s Six consideration alongside other G5 giants.

They’ll have a chance to dazzle poll evaluators on national TV by taking on a Ball State team which will struggle just to stay on the field.