[Editor’s note: As of 8:45 p.m. Eastern time, corrected placements of Ohio and Ball State due to formatting error.]
We’re officially halfway through the season, and as the autumn leaves fall, the fates of the 12 Mid-American Conference programs continues to be decided on gridirons all across the Midwest.
Our voters have started to solidify how they feel about the various teams up to this point, with not one, not two, but three teams being voted to their spots unanimously this week. Whether they continue to stay in those spots or not will show itself out as we get into the latter half of the season.
We took a slightly different bend on the “ranking” idea earlier this week, but if you’re a fan of the traditional fare, we’ve got you covered below.
Let’s get into this week’s rankings:
12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)
- Unanimous #12
The Zips once again put up an admirable effort against a division opponent in the Ohio Bobcats this past weekend, but alas, a win still eludes them, as even at their most effective play of the season, they still lost by multiple possessions.
There’s still some opportunity to play spoiler, as this is a much improved squad who can score with the best of them, but they’re #12 of 12 until they prove they can show their homework and pull down a win.
11. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 11)
- Unanimous #11
BGSU fell back down to earth after taking down Akron last week, suffering a 38-7 loss to the ascendant Buffalo Bulls on Saturday.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in this one, as the Falcons couldn’t get anything going offensively and had no answers for a tough Bulls running game which stampeded BG for well over 200 yards. Any progress they may have made last week certainly feels neutralized at present.
There aren’t a lot of answers out there, either.
10. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 5, down 5)
- High vote: 7 (twice)
- Low vote: 10 (twice)
- Average vote: 9
We said this time last week that if CMU lost to Ball State, they would have a precipitous drop, as the benefit of the doubt would disappear. Sure enough, they lost, and sure enough, they dropped five spots, the biggest drop of the week.
This was perhaps the most egregious, as CMU left four points off the board on kicking miscues and gave up a defensive touchdown despite the turnover battle being a push in what was ultimately a one-point loss at home.
CMU, a dark horse for MAC title consideration, is no longer in control of their own destiny. It’s a dark, dark time in Mt. Pleasant.
9. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: t-6, down 3)
- High vote: 8 (twice)
- Low vote: 10 (three)
- Average vote: 8.83
WMU went from a feel-good game to a feel-worse game this past weekend, as they were frustrated, stymied and dominated by Eastern Michigan on their own home field.
The Broncos only have two wins so far under their belts, with victories against New Hampshire (FCS) and Ball State, but what’s more concerning is the way they’re losing games. All their losses have come by 21 points or more, with a predictable offense and vulnerable defense in constant effect.
If they lose this week to Ohio, Tim Lester could truly in danger of being relieved of his duties.
8. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 4, down 4)
- High vote: 8 (three)
- Low vote: 10 (once)
- Average vote: 8.66
After weeks of back-and-forth performances that flashed some potential promise at points, the wheels finally fell off the Huskies bandwagon, as they were thoroughly eviscerated by Toledo. The final score looked a little more respectable, but it was a 45-7 game deep in the third quarter, indicating it was not close from the kick.
The optimistic fan would say NIU was bound for clunker after a year-and-a-half of eeking out close results, but the 2022 version of the Huskies just doesn’t feel like they have that same moxie or ability to maintain that performance.
They’re 1-5, but even their one win wasn’t terribly convincing. It’s hard to see how they’ll recover at this point, but they’ve pulled off stranger things in the past.
7. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 9, up 2)
- High vote: 5 (once)
- Low vote: 8 (four)
- Average vote: 7.16
The Cardinals stole one from the Chippewas on the road this week, as their offense struggled to be efficient for most of the game, going a woeful 0-of-13 on third-down attempts. But it was ultimately their defense which stood tall in what was BSU’s first true struggle against peer competition to get the win, getting a key turnover score to take the lead and stifle CMU’s early multiple-score lead.
This is a team which has played through a number of different scenarios and found ways to play through them all, now sitting at 2-1 in-league and 3-3 overall. There’s a lot to be optimistic about with this group, which is figuring it out at the right time.
6. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 8, up 2)
- High vote: 5 (once)
- Low vote: 9 (once)
- Average vote: 6.66
The Ohio Bobcats are in sixth in the power rankings right now, but it’s really hard to not feel good about these boys in Green and White.
Kurtis Rourke has blossomed into one of the MAC’s premiere quarterbacks in recent weeks, and the platoon of offensive weapons can go punch-by-punch with the league’s best as well. The defense is looking pretty good as well, with a number of personnel adjustments having been a great benefit.
The ‘Cats sit at 1-1 in the conference and could make some noise in the East race under the right circumstances. Keep your eyes on this team.
5. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 2, down 3)
- High vote: 3 (once)
- Low vote: 6 (once)
- Average vote: 5
Kent State took a massive stumble this week, falling behind early to the Miami RedHawks and being unable to make the comeback attempt stick late. It was a win they really needed to keep pace with Buffalo and not get mired in the midtable of the East, but it wasn’t meant to be this particular week.
It was a bit embarrassing for them, as the normally low-scoring RedHawks posted 27 points on the Flashes defense, including a quick 17-0 lead early on. The offense, to their credit, did manage to make a game of it down the stretch, with Collin Schlee playing admirably through injury to finish with 306 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
We’re still learning about this team halfway through the year; perhaps they’ll show us something we don’t know down the line.
4. Miami RedHawks (LW: 10, up 6)
- High vote: 3 (once)
- Low vote: 5 (three)
- Average vote: 4.33
Oh hey, speaking of the RedHawks, here they are!
After a down week which raised some potential concerns, they put on perhaps their best performance of the season this weekend, punching Kent State, last year’s MAC East champion, in the mouth and telling them the race to the division crown goes through Oxford. Miami did it the way they always do: by executing on defense, winning the field position battle on special teams and setting up short fields for the offense to perform with.
There’s still a bit of a road to plow, as their early loss to Buffalo complicates the march to the top, but the RedHawks defense and special teams is a unique advantage they’re able to utilize early and often.
3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: t-6, up 3)
- High vote: 2 (once)
- Low vote: 7 (once)
- Average vote: 3.66
Many were shocked to see Eastern Michigan stomp all over Western Michigan on Saturday, as the homestanding Broncos were a five-point favorite heading into the contest, but this week was confirmation that EMU is for real.
Their commitment to the power option run game with Samson Evans, paired with Taylor Powell’s strong arm, makes EMU one of the most dynamic and efficient offenses in the MAC. They can grind it out, air it out, or both, and that makes them extremely dangerous. The defense has also looked much improved in recent weeks after being a shaky unit at points in the non-conference.
Next week will be extremely important for maintaining momentum.
2. Buffalo Bulls (LW: t-3, up 1)
- High vote: 2 (five)
- Low vote: 3 (once)
- Average vote: 2.16
Buffalo did what they needed to do in a dominating win over BGSU, which is encouraging in terms of their future outlook. Good teams beat the teams they’re supposed to, and they were supposed to have this one.
It was a balanced effort, with four running touchdowns and 466 total yards on offense, while forcing four turnovers, limiting Matt McDonald to 50 percent on passes and 98-yard fumble return score on defense to really take it to a floundering Falcons squad and ensure they were never in danger.
They’ve got an extra division game to give them a nice 3-0 cushion early, giving them a lot of power.
1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)
- Unanimous #1
Once again, Toledo sits at #1, and they’ve very well earned it, torturing last year’s league champion NIU with a 52-32 victory this past weekend.
It was a lot less competitive than it appeared, as the Rockets picked up four interceptions— including three on three straight possessions— and at one point led 45-7 early in the second half. The defense was swarming, with seven tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four interceptions and five pass break-ups on the day, while the offense scored on all six redzone chances, being kept to just one field goal.
They’re still undefeated in league play, and they’ve done nothing to disprove why we shouldn’t believe in them at this point.
|Akron||Ball State||Buffalo||Bowling Green||Central Mich||Eastern Mich||Kent State||Miami||NIU||Ohio||Toledo||Western Mich|
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