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2022 Hustle Belt MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 12

We’ve finally broken the tie at the top after a riveting week of #MACtion!

Ohio v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Let’s get into this week’s rankings:

12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)

  • Unanimous #12

Akron was unable to play their game against Buffalo this week due to postponement, so they stay at 12. At 1-9, however, Akron was likely going to stay here anyways. Your record ultimately says what you are, and they’ve only won against an FCS team at the gun.

11. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 8, down 3)

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

Central’s bowl aspirations were killed in the cold with a brutal loss to their bitter rival Western Michigan. The myriad of problems the team has faced over the last few weeks finally caught up with them en masse, as WMU was able to edge the Chips in basically most every aspect of the game. Outside of a brief offensive burst and a great defensive effort, CMU was lucky it was as close as it was. They still have something to play for, as a win vs. EMU would allow them to retain the Michigan MAC Trophy.

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

  • High vote: 9 (three)
  • Low vote: 11 (twice)
  • Average vote: 9.83

As mentioned earlier, Western picked up a win for pride against Central this week. It was a dominant effort, with the Broncos forcing CMU to just 4-of-15 on third-down. Outside of Bert Emanuel’s big 60-yard touchdown run, WMU contained a dangerous running offense, with six tackles-for-loss, and also outdueled CMU in total offense with 357 yards to 253. The score could have been a bit larger were it not for two missed field goals early on in bad conditions— and a lot larger if they were able to convert on fourth-down attempts deep in goal-to-go situations. They play Toledo on Black Friday.

9. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 10)

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

The Huskies tried, but failed, to sneak one past the RedHawks, who are in the midst of chasing down bowl eligibility after a trying year. NIU once again struggled to generate much offense, rotating between several QBs and utilizing deep-bench players at the skill positions to find sparks due to a litany of injuries. Outside of a few home runs to get some points on the board, NIU just couldn’t find anything consistently, going 0-of-9 on third-down attempts. They’ll close out the season vs. Akron.

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

  • High vote: 6 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (four)
  • Average vote: 7.5

It was a much-needed win this week for Miami, who is in the hunt for a postseason bid after a slow start to the 2022 campaign. Aveon Smith was especially impressive in the stead of Brett Gabbert, with 285 total yards and three total touchdowns with no turnovers. If you take away the 141 yards combined from the two long runs to set up NIU scores, Miami gave up just 59 rushing yards on 30 rushes. This defense has been the team’s saving grace, and if their offense can continue performing like this, they’ll be a tough fight in the postseason. They play Ball State in a do-or-die rivalry game.

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

  • High vote: 5 (once)
  • Low vote: 7 (four)
  • Average vote: 6.83

Kent State had a major stumble this week against Eastern Michigan, jumping up to a two-score lead against the Eagles before losing starting QB Collin Schlee to an injury midway through the game. After that, the offense couldn’t stay in sync, allowing EMU to claw their way back with their backup QB Taylor Powell leading the charge. It’s especially disappointing considering their lights-out defensive performance against BGSU the prior week. They’re out of the bowl hunt now, but can still affect the MAC East race by playing spoiler vs. Buffalo.

t-5. Ball State Cardinals (LW: t-4, down 2)

  • High vote: 4 (twice)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.5

Another week, another admirable effort from Ball State in a difficult loss. The Cardinals have lives and died by margins all season, and their match with Ohio was an indication as such, falling behind by three scores in the third quarter and having to rally furiously in the fourth quarter to even have a chance at the tail end of the game. They were forced to go to the air with Carson Steele knocked out early due to a concussion and found some good play, but the sixth win eludes them for a second week in a row. They’ll have yet another chance against Miami in a game which will likely decide a bowl bid.

t-5. Buffalo Bulls (LW: t-4, down 1)

  • High vote: 5 (four)
  • Low vote: 7 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.5

Buffalo did not play this week due to inclement weather, and it’s to be determined if the game will be made up at all. That makes their upcoming game against Kent State especially crucial; if they win, they have an outside shot at the MAC East and a sixth win for the postseason. If they lose, it’s one of the biggest “what if?” seasons in recent MAC history.

4. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 3, down 1)

  • High vote: 3 (once)
  • Low vote: 6 (twice)
  • Average vote: 4.5

The BGSU Falcons pulled off a stunner in the snow on the road last week, taking down the MAC West champion Toledo Rockets at the gun with a late Ta’Ron Keith receiving touchdown. It was part of an effort which saw the Falcons lead for most of the game before allowing a brief Rockets rally in the late stages, with BG looking like the much better team through most of the contest. Give credit where it’s due; BGSU played through the adversity and came up clutch when they needed to. Now, they play for a trip to Detroit on the line against Ohio this week— though they need Kent State to beat Buffalo for that to happen.

3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 3)

  • High vote: 3 (five)
  • Low vote: 4 (once)
  • Average vote: 3.16

It’s a bit surprising to see EMU up so high after squeaking by Kent State last week, but they are a seven-win team who is a loss against Toledo away from potentially being MAC West division champions. EMU’s effort to make the comeback with their backup QB Taylor Powell to not only cut the lead, but almost double up KSU certainly contributes to their rankings. At their peak, EMU is as strong a MAC team as it gets, able to play to the circumstances of any game as a battle-tested unit. They can get an eighth win and the Michigan MAC Trophy against CMU this week.

2. Toledo Rockets (LW: t-1, down 1)

  • High vote: 1 (once)
  • Low vote: 2 (five)
  • Average vote: 1.83

Toledo took a simply ugly loss to BGSU in a rivalry game which could really have established themselves as the team to beat in Detroit in a few weeks. They looked as if they were operating at 75 percent speed at times, trailing by 21-7, 24-14 and 34-21 at points. Granted, the Rockets were playing without Dequan Finn, but even with Tucker Gleason at the helm, Toledo were double-digit favorites at home, and lost on one of the worst defensive drives of their 2022 campaign. It’s a disappointing loss, any way you slice it. Toledo gets one more shot to get it right before the title game vs. WMU.

1. Ohio Bobcats (LW: t-1)

  • High vote: 1 (five)
  • Low vote: 2 (once)
  • Average vote: 1.16

The Ohio Bobcats survived— literally and figuratively— against Ball State, getting out to an early lead against the Cardinals before losing Kurtis Rourke to a knee injury at the end of the first half. From there, the ‘Cats had to adjust to third-string QB CJ Harris and attempt to stifle a furious comeback rally by the BSU passing attack to preserve the result. If they had lost, the MAC East would have opened right back up to allow BGSU or Buffalo to control their destiny. Instead, they control their MAC title destiny against the Falcons this week.

Anonymized ranking

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

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!