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2022 Hustle Belt MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 7

Ohio v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Let’s get into this week’s rankings:

12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)

  • Unanimous #12

The Zips put up another admirable effort on Saturday, but a brutal mistake on the penultimate possession of the game ultimately sunk their ship in a one-score loss to Central Michigan at home.

It was an unfortunate result considering Akron was by far the more disciplined and efficient team on the day, but that’s the way football goes sometimes. This is a team who is already leagues better than this time last season, and could have been 3-3 or even 4-2 if a few results go the other way.

11. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 9, down 2)

  • High vote: 9 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (four)
  • Average vote: 10.5


WMU folded over like a slice of Brooklyn-style pizza at home once again, dropping them to 1-3 in contests played on their home grounds. This particular loss may have been the most brutal, as they tossed five interceptions in the direction of Bobcat defenders and had to play from unfavorable circumstances on defense the entire game as a result.

Nothing really seems to be working for this Broncos team right now, and they’re starting to run out of options for how to fix it at this juncture. Another loss lands them firmly in win-or-die territory, and with the environment already intense as-is, that certainly will not help.

10. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 10)

  • High vote: 9 (twice)
  • Low vote: 11 (twice)
  • Average vote: 10

It was ugly, sloppy and at times just plain brutal, but the Chippewas managed to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat against the Akron Zips in a game the Chips absolutely had to have if they had any hopes of salvaging the season.

Marion Lukes was the hero, scoring all three offensive touchdowns in the stead of the injured Lew Nichols, giving CMU a 21-7 lead early on. This team still exhibits plenty of painful tendencies, especially on offense, but the defensive side showed great potential with eight sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss. There’s still a long way to go for this group though, and they have no margin of error.

9. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 11, up 2)

  • High vote: 6 (once)
  • Low vote: 10 (three)
  • Average vote: 9

The Falcons made a statement against the preseason MAC East favorites on Saturday, dominating a stout Miami run game and getting the plays they needed to on offense to win the contest in the late going to advance to 2-1 in league play.

It’s a validating result for a team who has been putting in a lot of work to ensure their offense and defense play well together and play complimentary football after weeks where one side or the other played well while the other side struggled. They’re now in a position where if they play their cards right they could make a run, and that’s a lot better of a place than they were a few weeks ago, certainly.

8. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 3, down 5)

  • High vote: 6 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 7.66

After riding the high of a two-game winning streak where the offense scored seemingly at-will, the Eagles were stymied by a sudden revitalized NIU Huskies program. They were taken down in all three phases, allowing three touchdowns on the ground, a defensive touchdown on a pick-six and four field goals for 39 total points.

Outside of a 75-yard passing touchdown to get EMU on the board, there was nothing to write home about for the Eagles, who allowed five sacks and could only muster 78 net yards rushing and 122 yards passing on all other passes. This Eagles team is capable of competing with anyone on any day, but they’re still just as capable of underperforming as well. It’s discouraging to see after they showed great potential to maintain momentum coming into the game.

7. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 5, down 2)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (three)
  • Average vote: 7

Kent State slips once again, failing to take advantage of a unique opportunity on the road to down the best team in the MAC at their home grounds despite picking up a 21-0 early lead in the first quarter, a lead which was then expanded to 28-7 early in the second quarter.

Their defense failed to cash the checks their offense was giving them, ultimately blowing the lead by the halftime whistle before giving up an additional 24 points in the second half. The offense was affected as a result, tightening up and trying to play from behind to no avail, being met over and over again by Toledo defenders before the defense would relent to Dequan Finn’s arm in a never-ending dance.

KSU will be replaying this result in their heads over and over again, wondering what if.

6. Miami RedHawks (LW: 4, down 2)

  • High vote: 5 (three)
  • Low vote: 7 (three)
  • Average vote: 6

Miami continues to befuddle this season. They’re usually like that in general due to their team build and ultra-conservative coaching nature, but this year has been even more unusual for them.

This loss to BGSU was shocking in that the homestanding Falcons were absolutely unafraid of the RedHawks and their depth of talent, often finding their way into the backfield or stopping runs before they really had chances to begin on the outside. Miami had just 98 yards between five rushers, with Aveon Smith leading the way with 55 yards on 14 carries. The passing game wasn’t much better, with Smith finishing 9-of-17 for 91 yards and the lone touchdown late in the game. The outlook is looking fairly grim this year for this program unless they turn it around quickly.

5. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 8, up 3)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 6 (three)
  • Average vote: 5.33

They say to let a sleeping dog lie, but NIU woke up of their own volition after getting pantsed by Toledo last week, giving EMU a lashing in a dominant effort which wasn’t particularly close.

It was a victory which was surprising, in part due to NIU’s prior performance, but also due to the return of Rocky Lombardi, who was apparently a game-time decision after being out since Week 3 with injury. NIU looked every part the team who was expected to win the West, and even at 2-5, are still a dangerous unit who knows how to play games close.

Underestimate them at your own peril.

4. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 7, up 3)

  • High vote: 3 (twice)
  • Low vote: 6 (once)
  • Average vote: 4.16

The Cardinals took a break from league play to host the UConn Huskies, winners of their last two games coming into Saturday. The Cards were solid favorites by all accounts, but they found themselves in a bind early, falling behind by multiple possessions to a shockingly efficient Huskies offense which cut through their secondary like a knife through butter.

Thankfully for them, they were able to make the necessary second-half adjustments and sneak out with a win to add to the record book, shutting down the Huskies with a stout defensive performance while going back to what worked for them on offense. They’ve managed to do that a few times this season, and it speaks to their perseverance.

3. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 6, up 3)

  • High vote: 3 (four)
  • Low vote: 4 (twice)
  • Average vote: 3.33

We told you to look out for this Ohio squad last week.

The Bobcats now control their destiny in the MAC East race after notching another win, this time on the road against Western Michigan.

Ohio has seemingly found a formula that works for them on both sides of the ball, and Kurtis Rourke’s development as the starter at quarterback has blossomed into something beautiful, as he is constantly breaking passing records left and right on a weekly basis.

This week, however, was about the defense, who notched five interceptions and forced some turnovers-on-down to give the offense short field on a day they were weren’t as efficient as usual.

2. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 2)

  • Unanimous #2

Buffalo took care of business against UMass, taking them down 34-7 on the road to move to 4-3 overall on the year after starting the non-conference slate 0-3.

It was about as dominant an offensive performance as you could ask for, with the Bulls averaging seven yards per play, converting 8-of-15 third-down attempts, holding the ball for over 32 minutes. Even with the two turnovers by Cole Snyder, the defense still kept UMass in control, giving up just one rushing touchdown on the day.

They return to league play with a commanding 3-0 league record, in control of their own fates.

1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)

  • Unanimous #1

Dequan Finn scored seven total touchdowns, and the Rockets outscored the Golden Flashes 52-10 after Kent State jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter to take home yet another dominant victory on Saturday, ensuring they stay at the top of the league tables.

It was a thorough slicing and dicing of a team who was expected to compete for the MAC East division title, establishing Toledo’s cred as an all-around favorite to compete for the title outright. We’ve said it before, but in other times Toledo has been favored, they’ve fallen apart. This time, it certainly does feel like it’s for real.

Anonymized ranking

Akron Ball State Buffalo Bowling Green Central Mich Eastern Mich Kent State Miami NIU Ohio Toledo Western Mich
12 4 2 9 10 7 8 5 6 3 1 11
12 3 2 9 11 6 8 7 5 4 1 10
12 6 2 10 11 8 7 5 4 3 1 9
12 5 2 10 9 8 4 7 6 3 1 11
12 4 2 10 9 8 7 5 6 3 1 11
12 3 2 6 10 9 8 7 5 4 1 11

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!