We’re officially in the midst of weeknight #MACtion, as the lights shine down upon our favorite MAC teams play in front of the national TV cameras to determine their postseason fates and chances at a trip to Detroit to gain all-valuable hardware.
With the first week and a half down, we release our first post-weeknight rankings here for you folks to argue over.
12. Akron Zips (Last week: 12)
- Unanimous #12
The Akron Zips are still winless, and are therefore still at the bottom of our rankings once again.
11. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 11)
- Unanimous #11
Bowling Green got a much-needed victory against Akron, and got it relatively easily thanks to a stout defensive effort. The Falcons are up to three wins on the season now, which is super impressive considering the cicumstances, and still have the chance to play spoiler with a game vs. Miami next week.
10. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 9)
- Average vote: 9.83
- Highest vote: 9 (one)
- Lowest vote: 10 (five)
NIU has finally succumbed to the injury bug, and it’s affected them in a big way, with a soul-sucking 48-10 loss to the Chippewas on the road last week. They’ve got an identity crisis on their hands on offense, with a derth of talent on defense.
It’s strange to see NIU struggling after over a decade of dominance, but transitions to new coaches are never very smooth.
9. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 10)
- Average vote: 8
- Highest vote: 8 (two)
- Lowest vote: 10 (one)
Kent State has punched above their playing weight this season, showing a lot of heart with close losses. Their latest gutsy performance was against Toledo, who managed to sneak away with a 35-33 victory late in the game. These close losses are going to translate to wins at some point, and I believe KSU is going to be a team to compete in the MAC in 2020. But right now, they’ll be haunted by “coulda, woulda, shoulda” with three one-score losses to Miami, Ohio and Toledo.
8. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 8)
- Average vote: 8.33
- Highest vote: 8 (four)
- Lowest vote: 9 (two)
EMU is pretty much out of the MAC West race at this point, with the losses to Toledo and Buffalo back-to-back, but there’s still a lot to play for, as they can pick up bowl eligibility with two wins and guarantee a bid with seven. They’ll likely need all three so their conference record ends up at .500, as they sit at 1-4 currently.
7. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 1)
- Average vote: 5.5
- Highest vote: 5 (four)
- Lowest vote: 7 (one)
It’s a precipitous drop for the Bobcats, who are wounded following a heart-breaking loss on primetime television to heated rival Miami. It always seems to be those pesky RedHawks who break Ohio’s momentum in November, and that was the case once again this week.
They’re now at 4-5 (3-2) and will need some help to be able to go to Detroit. They’re in good shape for a bowl bid if they can win two of the next three games.
6. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 3)
- Average vote: 5
- Highest vote: 2 (one)
- Lowest vote: 6 (three)
Another week, another team dropping from the top three to sixth place after a tough loss. This time, it’s Ball State, who suffers their second-striaght loss after falling to Western Michigan on the road.
No one expected the Cards to start conference play 3-0, so perhaps this is regression to the mean, but they’re still putting up great fights even despite the final results. This team will have great spoiler potential over the next three weeks.
5. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 6)
- Average vote: 4.833
- Highest vote: 3 (one)
- Lowest vote: 7 (two)
As expected, CMU pulled out a huge win at home against a depleted NIU squad, hanging 48 points and 615 yards on the worn-down Huskies. They became the first MAC team to gain bowl eligibility last Saturday, thanks in part to a strange schedule which had 10-straight games to begin the season.
CMU’s remaining games are against Ball State and Toledo, so they still have an outside chance at going to Detroit with some help, and can certainly attain a bowl with a split.
t-3. Toledo Rockets (LW: 4)
- Average vote: 4.166
- Highest vote: 1 (one)
- Lowest vote: 7 (one)
The Rockets are the team with perhaps the wildest variance amongst our voters, being ranked as high as first and as low as seventh. There were no duplicate rankings, either, with every voter putting them somewhere different. Toledo has been severely unhealthy at QB, but have managed to get by, thanks in part to an excellent running attack led by Bryant Koback and Shakif Seymour.
A win over Kent State propelled them to bowl eligibility and keeps them alive in the MAC West.
t-3. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 5)
- Average vote: 4.166
- Highest vote: 3 (two)
- Lowest vote: 6 (one)
The Bulls have shown off one of the best defenses in the country in recent weeks, but it was the offense they rode to a marquee victory over EMU, picking up a safety and following it up with a 41-point unanswered streak to pick up a 43-14 victory.
They’re chasing down Miami in the MAC East standings, and will need to take care of business in order to do so, as they lost to the RedHawks earlier this season by a margin of 34-20.
2. Miami RedHawks (LW: 7)
- Average vote: 3
- Highest vote: 2 (twice)
- Lowest vote: 4 (twice)
Ohio’s loss is Miami’s gain, as they now take a commanding lead in the MAC East race with a 4-1 conference record, with games against cellar-dwellers Akron and BGSU remaining on the schedule.
They have been a scrappy team all season, even if the results have been as confusing as ever. Of their conference games, three of their wins have been by single-digits, with only one true blowout (vs. Buffalo, 34-20.) Their losses are head-scratching too, as they held court with Iowa, Cincinnatti and WMU before collapsing late. Iowa and Cincy are legit Top 25 teams, while WMU is the West division leader. They even led Ohio State 5-0 at the end of the first quarter, the only team in 2019 to do so. (Please ignore the 76-unanswered points.)
The Road to Detroit runs straight through Oxford, Ohio, and they’ve earned this opportunity.
1. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 3)
- Average vote: 1.166
- Highest vote: 1 (five)
- Lowest vote: 2 (one)
There’s not really a surprise here.
WMU is tops in the tougher division of the MAC and has engineered one of the shrewedest offenses in the country behing their dynamic running back Levante Bellamy. Bellamy proved to be the difference once again when Ball State and WMU played on Tuesday, picking up 157 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Hell, even Jon Wassink got in on the action with 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground to contribute positively.
The Broncos are in the driver’s seat in the West, with only NIU and Ohio remaining on the schedule. They’re hot at the right time too, with games in hand against CMU and Ball State to help them out just in case.