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2022 Hustle Belt MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 11

Our voters are simply addicted to ties, they cannot stop creating ties!

Kenneth Bailey

We’re getting into the nitty-gritty of the Power Rankings, with every team having two more weeks of games and four teams fighting for one spot to the MAC Championship Game in Detroit the first week of December.

There’s some strange shuffling of the board this week, with the game results giving us some strange outcomes, meaning some exceedingly strange standings. The 2022 campaign in the MAC has been an unpredictable one all season, and Week 11 once again proved the point.

Let’s get into this week’s rankings:

12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)

  • Unanimous #12

Another week, another close loss for the Akron Zips in a game where they had potential to take control early on. Losing DJ Irons early was a major detriment, as backup Jeff Undercuffler Jr. could not move the ball effectively through the air. A couple Cam Wiley touchdowns got them close, and a scoop-n-score called back due to penalty could have changed the game.

It’s encouraging that the Zips look like an actual, factual football team in 2022, certainly, but 1-9 is still 1-9 on the season.

11. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 10, down 1)

  • High vote: 10 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (five)
  • Average vote: 10.83

The Broncos found themselves in a back-and-forth affair with an ailing NIU squad, and once again, found themselves on the losing side of said back-and-forth affair.

It’s getting to be a pattern at this point, and there aren’t any real solutions coming soon, as their talent drain has simply been too much to overcome. They’re out of bowl contention as a result of their inability to finish, and now they’re facing a CMU team who has one of the most aggressive styles of football in the MAC. If they can’t get up for a trophy game, there might be no hope for the future.

10. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 10)

  • High vote: 8 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (once)
  • Average vote: 9.66

NIU was able to break their tie from last week with WMU in our rankings by taking down the Broncos with a last-minute touchdown drive.

It was a nice win for the Huskies, who lost their ability to compete for a bowl game last week vs. CMU. They showed a lot of moxie with their QB rotation, and their defensive performance was admirable, doing what it needed to do to stop WMU from finding a rhythm.

2022 has been a nightmare campaign for NIU, but they can be pretty happy with their performance this week.

9. Miami RedHawks (LW: 8, down 1)

  • High vote: 8 (once)
  • Low vote: 10 (once)
  • Average vote: 9

The dam finally broke for the RedHawks, as one of the league’s best defenses could not stand up to the test of the ferocious Ohio offense with a 16-point loss. The defense had no answers for Kurtis Rourke, who continued to set Ohio program records with his 363 yards and three touchdowns through the air, or Sieh Bangura, who had 145 yards and a score.

The good news for the RedHawks is that Brett Gabbert looked effective under center, finding Mac Hippenhammer for several scores, and they did play themselves into a chance to tie the game up mid-fourth quarter, but it wasn’t meant to be.

8. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 9, up 1)

  • High vote: 6 (once)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 7.66

Central Michigan was 30 minutes away from seeing their bowl hopes go good-bye, down 24-7 at the halftime break to Buffalo.

They flipped the script in the second half, with Bert Emanuel Jr. emerging as the Chippewas savior on offense, while the defense made some much-needed adjustments to shut down a good Bulls running game. This is more or less the dynamic CMU team which was expected all season after a difficult campaign which suffered both talent flow and injury issues.

There’s still a long way to go, however. CMU must win out to qualify for a bowl game. Can they keep this momentum into two trophy games against their in-state peers?

7. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 6, down 1)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 10 (once)
  • Average vote: 7

Not really too much to say about BGSU’s destruction at the hands of Kent State, as they were positively crushed 40-6. It snaps a great run of form for the Falcons, who had played their way into the MAC East title race with a 4-1 start to the conference season.

They gave up seven turnovers, including five fumbles (all lost) and were never competitve from the opening whistle (as proven by a muffed opening kickoff.) It was a cruel regression to the mean, and now BGSU has an uphill battle to pick up one more win, with Toledo and Ohio on the schedule.

6. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 7, up 1)

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

Speaking of Kent State, they destroyed in-state rival Bowling Green 40-6!

This time around, it was a defensive effort, as they forced seven turnovers, 12 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and two interceptions to secure the victory. The Flashes could well have added 17 more points early on were it not for a missed field goal, a turnover-on-downs and a freak interception all inside the BGSU redzone.

The Flashes still have an outside chance at the MAC East if they can win out and Ohio loses out, which would be a testament to the idea of never giving up in league play after an extremely slow start.

t-4. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 5, up 1)

  • High vote: 4 (twice
  • Low vote: 5 (four)
  • Average vote: 4.66

Ball State took the Rockets’ lunch money to start the game last week, and they very nearly got away with it too.

Alas, they could not do it.

The Cardinals defense, combined with their ability to get Carson Steele some great space, with the former Mr. Indiana Football rushing for 198 yards and three touchdowns, put a lot of pressure on the Rockets to perform late in the game.

BSU has lost out on their last two opportunities to clinch a bowl game, but they’ve shown great ability to play with anyone who is placed in front of them. Ohio is next; if they can replicate their performance against Toledo, they’ve got a chance to play spoiler.

t-4. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 3, down 1)

  • High vote: 3 (once)
  • Low vote: 6 (twice)
  • Average vote: 4.66

The Buffalo Bulls were shell-shocked by a CMU performance in the second half which left the country breathless, losing the grip on the MAC East division as a result. It was a soul-crushing loss.

Buffalo had a remarkable run of form for a team which was expected to be in the midst of a rebuild due to their age, and a win over CMU would have allowed them to decide their division fate without any help. Now, they need a good handful of things to go their way. It’s disappointing, but sitting at 5-5 is not a bad thing all considered for a team which had no real expectations going into 2022.

3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 4, up 1)

  • High vote: 3 (four)
  • Low vote: 5 (once)
  • Average vote: 4.66

EMU squeezed by Akron to get an all-important sixth win and notch up bowl eligibility, a week after the Eagles could have taken the MAC West lead and a postseason big with a win over the Toledo Rockets.

It was a game won truly on the margins, with EMU going 7-of-14 on third down, while also converting all three redzone chances and going 2-of-2 on field goals, while Akron was 3-of-11 on third down and 0-of-1 on field goals.

They’re a team which has shown a lot of moxie, utilizing an aggressive defense to set up their offense for efficient drives, which is exactly what they managed to do against the Zips, creating three interceptions and two turnovers-on-down to generate points throughout the game. They’re not a perfect team, but they’re a team capable of punching you in the mouth at any moment.

t-1. Ohio Bobcats (LW: t-1)

  • High vote: 1 (three)
  • Low vote: 2 (three)
  • Average vote: 1.5

The Ohio Bobcats dismantled the Miami RedHawks to prove once again they’re one of the best all-around units in the MAC, throwing over, under and around one of the best defenses in the MAC in Miami, while also limiting a resurgent Brett Gabbert to targeting his main security blankets in a multiple-score win.

They control their destiny in the MAC East as long as they win out, putting them in the driver’s seat for a trip to Detroit. Ball State, who has stumbled over the last few weeks, is next, with a potential division-deciding game against BGSU the next week. If they manage to pull off the feat, it would be the latest incredible turnaround in the MAC over the last five years.

t-1. Toledo Rockets (LW: t-1)

  • High vote: 1 (three)
  • Low vote: 2 (three)
  • Average vote: 1.5

The Toledo Rockets had to earn another win in the late going once again against Ball State to clinch the MAC West. It was a true deja-vu expereince, as BSU led for most of the game. Dequan Finn put the team on his back, and led a last-minute touchdown drive, while Maxen Hook pulled down an interception on the ensuing drive to ensure the walk-off victory, just like they did last week.

They’re getting the best performances of every team they’re facing at this point, and still continue to win. They earned their division fair and square, and hope to maintain that momentum as they prepare to play for the MAC title in Detroit a few weeks from now.

Anonymized ranking

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