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2019 MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 1

The best and brightest at Hustle Belt gathered to rank all 12 MAC teams.

NCAA Football: Frisco Bowl-Ohio vs San Diego State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the start of a new season, and there was plenty of action to follow for the MAC, as half the league played tune-up games against FCS squads, while others bit he Power Five bullet early and got some film down.

While it’s only Week 1, the people want to know where we at Hustle Belt have everyone ranked. In case you’re new, this is how it works: we have the staff fill out a sheet for teams from 1-12, then take the average rankings and align them where they belong. We keep track of the highest votes, lowest votes and average votes on a weekly basis and update them as events change.

Most every member of the staff has a vote, though we don’t release the ballots on their own. (If this is something you want to see changed, just let us know!) This year, we have two new voters in the proceedings to replace outgoing writers in Zach vanNieuwehnzie and Keith Gregorski.

Without further ado: the votes.

12. Akron Zips (open: 12)

  • Average vote: 11.625
  • Highest vote: 10 (one vote)
  • Lowest vote: 12 (six votes)

It was always going to be a tough season for the Zips, but one can’t help but feel a bit down about their performance against Illinois, especially given Akron was upsetting Top 25 teams this time last season. Akron looked every bit of the rebuilding squad in a dismantling at the hands of Illinois in Week 1 action. They should be okay as the season develops, but for now, they sit at the bottom.

11. Kent State Golden Flashes (open: 11)

  • Average vote: 11
  • Highest vote: 9 (one)
  • Lowest vote: 11 (five)

Kent State, like Akron, is in the middle of a rebuild and playing a Power Five team on the road to kick off the season. They were a tad more competitive than the Zips in their matchup, but they certainly weren’t perfect, losing by 23 points to Arizona State thanks in part to an abysmal offensive output.

10. Bowling Green State Falcons (open: 10)

  • Average vote: 9.625
  • Highest vote: 8 (one)
  • Lowest vote: 11 (one)

BGSU thoroughly outclassed Morgan State in every way in their home opener, a welcome change from years past, where the Falcons struggled to put away FCS opponents. Darius Wade’s stellar performance at quarterback really helped put it away early, and there are a lot of encouraging signs.

9. Central Michigan Chippewas (open: 9)

  • Average vote: 9.5
  • Highest vote: 9 (five)
  • Lowest vote: 11 (one)

CMU impressed against Albany after a bit of a shaky start, accumulating 528 total yards on offense while giving up only 244. The Chips certainly look revamped and inspired, but it’s still too early to declare anything. Games against Wisconsin and Akron upcoming should help clear the picture.

8. Ball State Cardinals (open: 8)

  • Average vote: 7.625
  • Highest vote: 6 (one)
  • Lowest vote: 8 (six)

The Cards put the Hoosiers on upset alert multiple times in their neutral site matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium, but just couldn’t seal the deal at the end. There was a lot of encouraging things to take away from their performance, but there’s still a few things to fix up, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

7. Buffalo Bulls (open: 7)

  • Average vote: 6
  • Highest vote: 5 (three)
  • Lowest vote: 8 (one)

Buffalo always seems to fall victim to the average vote drop, as they once again find themselves underraked. The Bulls had plenty of questions heading into their match against Robert Morris, but seem to have found the answers to a good majority of it. QB Matt Myers gave the coaching staff a good reason for them putting their faith in him, while the defense had a day beating up on the Colonials. It’s only Week 1, but there was a lot of good for Buffalo.

6. Miami University RedHawks (open: 6)

  • Average vote: 5.875
  • Highest vote: 4 (two)
  • Lowest vote: 7 (four)

It isn’t often we put a team with a 24-point loss in the top half of the rankings, but after the battle that the RedHawks gave Iowa on the road, how could you not be optimistic about the direction that Miami is heading in? Freshman QB Brett Gabbert looked like a seasoned veteran at the controls in his first start in a hostile environment, while the rest of the Miami squad held up admirably. It’s a make-or-break season in Oxford, and it’s a strong start so far.

5. Eastern Michigan Eagles (open: 5)

  • Average vote: 5
  • Highest vote: 2 (two)
  • Lowest vote: 10 (one)

EMU just has the strangest luck with one-score games. It’s almost like they can’t help but to make things rough for their fans, but this time around, it was for the positive. The Eagles, on the back of Mike Glass III’s record-breaking performance, came back from a double-digit deficit (and overcame a double-digit rally) to take a road win against Coastal Carolina. The road gets a bit rougher, as Kentucky and Illinois are next on the list in the Eagles’ barnstorming start to the 2019 season.

4. Northern Illinois Huskies (open: 4)

  • Average vote: 4.875
  • Highest vote: 3 (two)
  • Lowest vote: 7 (one)

NIU struggled in their win against Illinois State, so this could be more of a projection than an indication of last week’s results. That said, the offense looks rejuvenated with Ross Bowers at the controls and the defense held firm in clutch situations, including the Jalen McKie pick-six to seal the deal. We largely know what we’ re getting with NIU at this point. It’s just a matter of time before they show it.

3. Western Michigan Broncos (open: 3)

  • Average vote: 3
  • Highest vote: 2 (three)
  • Lowest vote: 4 (three)

If there was any one team from the MAC that looked dominant as any, it was WMU. They might only be ranked #3 in our Power Rankings, but they ran away with a win early against Monmouth and never let off the gas, leading 21-0 in the first quarter at one point. Jon Wassink threw for as many touchdowns as incompletions (five) and wasn’t intercepted once, while Gio Ricci (two touchdowns) looked every part of the receiving tight end who developed over the offseason. D’Wayne Eskridge looked good as a corner too, grabbing eight tackles and a pass defended.

2. Toledo Rockets (open: 2)

  • Average vote: 2.75
  • Highest vote: 1 (one)
  • Lowest vote: 5 (one)

Toledo will have a few questions to answer on their idle week, as Mitchell Guadagni went down with injury after becoming the victim of a targeting penalty. The Rockets looked really good early, but down the stretch, looked lost and outmatched against a deep Kentucky roster. They should be in good shape for the MAC season, and a week’s rest before their tuneup against Murray State should help the Rockets get back to their potential.

1. Ohio Bobcats (open: 1)

  • Average vote: 1.125
  • Highest vote: 1 (seven)
  • Lowest vote: 2 (one)

In what will likely come as no shock, the Bobcats are the number one team in our opening MAC Power Rankings. Ohio looked dominant in their FCS tune-up against Rhode Island, with Nathan Rourke breezing through to a three-touchdown day and at least three different rushers with 60+ yards in what proved to be a victorious outing. Ohio gets an interesting matchup next week with Pittsburgh and rival Marshall two weeks from now to really show what they’re worth.