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2021 Hustle Belt MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 7

New face(s), familiar place for the Huskies of NIU, as the dogs once again sit atop the 2021 MAC charts.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Georgia Tech Jenn Finch-USA TODAY Sports

12. Akron Zips (Last week: 12)

  • High vote: 11 (two)
  • Low vote: 12 (three)
  • Average vote: 11.6

New quarterback, same issues for the Zips, as they just can’t stop anyone in front of them when it matters. There’s certainly a lot to be encouraged by, as Zach Gibson looks ready to take over the QB1 spot and WR Konata Mumpfield has stepped up to be Akron’s best player.

But, they still only have one FBS win, and it was against BGSU. Prospects for a W don’t look bright vs. Buffalo.

11. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 10)

  • High vote: 10 (three)
  • Low vote: 12 (twice)
  • Average vote: 10.8

The days of upsetting Big Ten teams on the road feel like a lifetime ago for the Falcons, as they’ve suffered three league losses (with two by eight points or less), including one to aforementioned Akron.

They’re going to have to loosen up against an exploitable Eastern Michigan at home this week. Otherwise, they could be looking at a winless league season after a promising start.

10. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 11)

  • High vote: 10 (twice)
  • Low vote: 11 (three)
  • Average vote: 10.6

Ohio has finally found an offense under Armani Rogers, which is very encouraging news, but it’s still a team predicated on hoping they can possibly, maybe, potentially win a defensive battle, and so far, they haven’t been able to score enough points to make that a reality.

The ‘Cats have only won vs. Akron, and the last two games have been lost by a combined four points. They face their stiffest test vs. Kent State this week.

9. Toledo Rockets (LW: 5)

  • High vote: 7 (three)
  • Low vote: 9 (twice)
  • Average vote: 7.6

Toledo has looked really bad over six of the last eight quarters, struggling to move the ball downfield effectively, and allowing the opposition to creep back into games. Their last two losses have been by a combined five points, but they’ve also been two very uneven performances. They lost a winnable game last week, and at some point, that comes down to game management and the staff.

The Rockets now have to win against Western Michigan to stop their slide into the bottom of the division after being the preseason favorite to win the MAC West.

8. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 6)

  • High vote: 5 (once)
  • Low vote: 10 (once)
  • Average vote: 7.43

Another week, another one-score loss for the Eagles, as they couldn’t get out of their own way against Ball State. It’s really a marvel that EMU continues to find themselves in this exact situation— and continue to lose them.

It’s imperative they find that next gear and dominate a team in order to be taken seriously. They’ll have a decent chance against BGSU... at least, they should.

7. Miami RedHawks (LW: 9)

  • High vote: 5 (twice)
  • Low vote: 9 (twice)
  • Average vote: 7.0

Miami took home their expected victory against Akron last week, and get up to 2-1 on the MAC season after taking a somewhat unexpected loss to EMU two weeks back. The RedHawks returned to form in the win, posting 34 points after only scoring 12 (all via field goal) vs. EMU.

They can keep pace in the division race with a win over Ball State next week.

6. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 7)

  • High vote: 6 (once)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.6

Buffalo is the team which perplexes voters the most. They’re also a team which delivers some perplexing performances, so that really checks out. It was another strange performance this week, as Buffalo had to mount a furious rally to have a chance to beat a one-win Ohio— on a walk-off field goal at that.

They’ll get two straight chances to right the ship, with Akron upcoming this week.

5. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 8)

  • High vote: 5 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.2

CMU flew out to a flying start against a dizzy Toledo team in the first half, racing out to a 20-3 lead— but let off the gas and had to earn back a win in overtime on a Marshall Meeder field goal after a Thomas Cluckey miss.

Even acknowledging injuries, this team is one that seems to just underperform to expectations at current, sitting at 4-3 despite having the most explosive offenses in the conference by the numbers. They face division leader NIU this week.

4. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 2)

  • Unanimous #4

Kent State suffered a massive set-back on Saturday, getting beaten to a pulp by an explosive Western Michigan side. It’s never a good look to give up 64 points in a season, and it looks a lot worse when your hyped offense could only muster 17 first-half points. Collin Schlee came in relief in the second half, if that’s any indication of how bad it got.

Fans will hope that performance was a roadbump, as they’ll draw Ohio in Saturday’s action.

3. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 4)

  • High vote: 1 (once)
  • Low vote: 3 (three)
  • Average vote: 2.4

Ball State sure does look to be back, picking up their third-straight win of the season against EMU in a game whose result was consistently in motion. They’re sitting at 2-1 in league play now, and whatever was ailing them at the start of the season is seeming to resolve itself.

They’ll face Miami next to compete for the Redbird Rivalry trophy.

2. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 3)

  • High vote: 1 (three)
  • Low vote: 3 (twice)
  • Average vote: 2.2

WMU destroyed Kent State in what was seen by many (including myself) as a potential MAC championship preview. At least in Round 1, it was the Broncos who looked like the better team, with five rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns to bury the Golden Flashes defense— while also limiting the offense to just 362 yards. A potential Round 2 is still TBD.

WMU will take on Toledo this week, looking to keep pace in the MAC West race.

1 Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 5)

  • High vote: 1 (three)
  • Low vote: 2 (twice)
  • Average vote: 1.4

Speaking of keeping pace, it’s the Huskies who everyone is trying to catch up to, as the lone 3-0 team in the league.

A year removed from a 0-6 season, the Huskies are 5-2, with a four-game winning streak. Their most recent game saw them galavant all over the BGSU defense, particularly in the second and third quarters, with 31 of their 34 points scored in that time. They now have five players with over 200 yards of rushing— just one of two teams to do so.

They face CMU next, a team they’ve beaten just once since 2014. It will prove to be a test of if they’re comfortable being up top.

Did we get it right? Did we get it wrong? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below, or at us on Twitter @HustleBelt!