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2022 Hustle Belt MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 9

Tumult at the top marks the Week 9 rankings as we head into six games over two days.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get into this week’s rankings:

12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)

  • Unanimous #12

The Zips still can’t stop losing, so they’re still at the bottom of the rankings.

This time around, they suffered at the hands of the Miami RedHawks and their very stout defense. To their credit they were able to get yards on Miami, but ultimately made too many mistakes and couldn’t convert opportunities into points. You’re not going to win a lot of games that way.

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

  • High vote: 9 (two)
  • Low vote: 11 (four)
  • Average vote: 10.33

Good news: Western Michigan looked mildly more competent against BGSU this past week with Treyson Bourget under center and the defense looking the part of a tough unit. Bad news: they lost again.

The defense stood on their heads once again in a spirited effort, critically getting a stop in the redzone to prevent BGSU expanding their lead and give WMU’s offense the ball with a chance to win the game. However, Tim Lester opted for a field goal to bridge the gap to four points late, which may have ultimately cost them a chance at a win. WMU is running out of opportunities to makes something out of 2022.

t-10. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 8, down 2)

  • High vote: 10 (four)
  • Low vote: 11 (two)
  • Average vote: 10.33

The NIU Huskies are an injury ward at QB, having to rely on walk-on true freshman scout team QB Nevan Cremascoli (who was the sixth QB on the roster at camps) to produce the majority of NIU’s offense.

It didn’t go terribly well, as they fell 21-0 early in the first half to CMU in part due to three failed fourth-and-short conversions to try and steal possessions. The defense, to their credit, stood up and brought it back to within seven points late in the contest, but the offense couldn’t uphold their end of the bargain, giving up a strip sack int he endzone for a touchdown. There’s not a lot to be happy about sitting at 2-7.

9. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 11, up 2)

  • High vote: 9 (four)
  • Low vote: 10 (two)
  • Average vote: 9.33

CMU hasn’t had a lot to be happy about this season, but they can at the very least take satisfaction in a resounding victory over NIU to stay afloat in the race for a bowl game.

As with most CMU games in 2022, it was an ugly, imperfect little gem. Three different QBs took snaps— sometimes on the same drive— while the offense fumbled the ball five times, losing it three times. It required a genuinely great defensive performance in the second half to ensure CMU could preserve their lead.

If they can win out, the Chips will be 6-6 and looking at a bowl, which would be one of the best coaching jobs in recent memory if they can pull that off considering how ridiculous the season has been.

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

  • High vote: 7 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 7.83

The Miami RedHawks took care of business against the Akron Zips, with the defense (already one of the top units in the league) keeping Akron to just nine points while scoring 27 after struggling all season on the offensive side of the ball.

It’s a nice dead cat bounce after losing three of their last four contests, but the reality of Miami’s situation is they can’t afford to make any mistakes after having starting the year sluggishly; they must win two of the next three contests to qualify for a bowl, and win out to guarantee the postseason.

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

  • High vote: 5 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 7.16

The Golden Flashes are one the year’s most surprising units, as they had a lot of preseason expectations thrust upon them due to the sheer number of talented prospects coming back onto the roster in 2022.

It just hasn’t quite fleshed out that way, as the Flashes are second-last in the MAC East at 2-3 in league play and 3-6 overall. Kent State has gotten off to a lot of quick starts on offense which quickly fizzle out as the game goes on and teams start to key in on what makes the offense tick. This week, it was Ball State who quashed KSU en route to a huge comeback effort.

They must win out to get to the postseason.

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

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

BGSU just keeps on climbing up the charts despite all the odds against them. Much like their MAC East mate Buffalo, the Falcons suffered a bad loss to an FCS team at home early on in the year before going on a run of form which sent them shooting up the table.

The Falcons put up a very impressive performance against WMU, dominating much of the contest, especially on the defensive side. They could have scored at least one more touchdown were it not for a miracle play by the WMU defense in the endzone, and kept WMU to just nine points.

If Ohio and Buffalo stumble, it opens a potential path for BGSU assuming they win out. They can also secure a bowl with one more win— though, it should be noted they have a tough path to get there.

5. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 6, up 1)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 7 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.16

Ball State found a way to persevere through some early troubles to come back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Kent State last week, once again showing the capability to produce a comeback when necessary. They’ve secured wins against UConn, Central Michigan and KSU this way, while also taking NIU and EMU to the wire.

A few results go the other way, and this is a 7-2 team controlling their own destiny. Instead, this is a team which has alternated wins and losses in league play thus far. It’s cruel, but that’s football sometimes.

They have the requisite talent to play up to any standard, and were champions of the MAC two years ago, so they certainly know what it takes to make a run. A win against Toledo would open up a lot of possibilities.

4. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 4)

  • High vote: 4 (three)
  • Low vote: 7 (twice)
  • Average vote: 4.83

The Eagles continue to persevere at the #4 spot after devastating loss to the Toledo Rockets in the fading seconds. It was an admirable effort, with EMU tasting first blood and leading for much of the contest.

In fact, it took a superb effort by backup QB Tucker Gleason on Toledo’s penultimate drive of the game to give the Rockets their first— and only— lead of the game at 27-24 with just over two minutes remaining. You can’t fault the Eagles for giving Toledo every shot they had in this one.

It does make the road to Detroit harder though, as the Eagles now need help and must win out to have a shot. One more win gets them a bowl bid, at the very least.

3. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 1, down 2)

  • Unanimous #3

The more we think we know about teams, the more teams keep showing us surprising sides of themselves.

The Buffalo Bulls looked like they had no answers for a high-flying Ohio offense missing several of its contributors in the running game for significant portions of the contest, while also struggling to advance the ball in a productive matter. It was never a close contest, as the ‘Cats jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never relinquished to win 45-24.

It’s a huge setback, as Buffalo has now lost control of the MAC East. They still have just one conference loss, but if Ohio wins out, there’s not a lot to be done in regards to Detroit.

t-1. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 3, up 2)

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

The Ohio Bobcats have been one of the most fascinating stories in college football in 2022, especially as it compares to their preseason expectations.

Ohio labored through a 3-9 season in 2021 after the sudden retirement of Frank Solich, and looked every part of a young, inexperienced and ill-fitting team in the process under new coach Tim Albin. Fast forward to today, and Ohio threatens to win the division for the first time since 2016 on the back of a 6-3 overall record, with a 4-1 league slate.

Kurtis Rourke’s development has been a huge contributing factor to their success, as he’s one of the most efficient QBs in the country, while league-leading receiver Sam Wiglusz and an aggressive, go-get-em defense make Ohio one of the most well-rounded teams in the Group of Five level.

They’ve already qualified for a bowl, becoming the second MAC team to do so. Now they must keep up the momentum if they want to break their decades-long championship streak.

t-1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)

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

Toledo gets a sparring buddy to join them atop the charts in an ultra-rare tie for the top spot after stealing away a win on the road against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

With the pallor of suffering a league loss still recently attached to them, a backup quarterback under center and losing control of the first half early on due to a torrid performance by EMU on both sides of the ball, Toledo could have folded at any time. Instead, they stepped up to the challenge and engineered a comeback which culminated in a one-yard play action pass to the tight end Lenny Kuhl on the flat to take home the victory.

The defense stepped up and shut down what was a very successful EMU defense in the second half, holding EMU to just seven second-half points to allow the Rockets offense to start their comeback efforts.

Toledo still controls their own destiny to Detroit. Win out, and it becomes a reality.

Anonymized ranking

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