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2022 Hustle Belt Mid-American Conference Football Power Rankings: Week 3

So much for expectations. After two shocking results in Week 3, the MAC table experiences some major shake-ups going into the final slate of non-conference games.

Eastern Michigan v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Week 3’s results are in all around the MAC, and we still don’t have any true consensus on how the 2022 campaign looks so far, with several programs pulling down some truly shocking wins to shake up the tables and show they’ve got some moxie heading into the traditional last week of the non-conference slate.

There’s still a long way to go, and we still have a lot to learn about these teams as the season progresses, but with three weeks of data, we’re starting to get a general feeling of how to feel about each program as we finally start looking forward to (mostly) conference games starting in Week 5.

This week’s Power Rankings saw some huge leaps and a lot of drops, as only one team kept their previous position after Saturday’s results.

Without further ado: here are the rankings!

12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 11, down 1)

  • High vote: 11 (once)
  • Low vote: 12 (five)
  • Average vote: 11.83

Good news: DJ Irons’ injury seems to be less damage than anticipated!

Bad news: The Zips still got pasted by a ranked Tennessee Volunteers team as expected, suffering a tough 63-6 loss in Knoxville on Saturday evening.

Their spirited effort against St. Francis (PA), which gave Akron their only win on the season so far, feels like a distant memory at this point. There’s still a lot to fix for the Zips, alas, and they won’t be getting any reprieves any time soon, as they face a Liberty team which just took Wake Forest to the wire last week.

11. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 10, down 1)

  • High vote: 10 (three)
  • Low vote: 12 (once)
  • Average vote: 10.33

The Bulls got a lot of fumble luck early in their contest against Coastal Carolina, but their inability to convert for maximum points would ultimately come back to haunt them, as the Chanticleers righted the ship to come all the way back and then some in the second half to win the game by 12 points.

This team is simply too talented to be leaving points on the board and not have a strong sense of identity at this point in the season. Their steady downward decline in the rankings, then, is understandable.

They will face EMU in the (extremely real) Ontario Sandwich Rivalry this weekend to open conference play.

10. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 9, down 1)

  • High vote: 7 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (once)
  • Average vote: 9.16

Ball State did what they needed to do in a FCS warm-up win against Murray State, though you might have liked to see them look a little bit better than they did in their 31-0 victory over the Racers.

There’s the pieces of a very good offense here, certainly, as John Paddock has looked comfortable as Drew Plitt’s replacement and Carson Steele looked to be back to his old form after a couple tough outings in the previous weeks.

Ultimately, it wasn’t their fault they fell one spot from last week, as a big riser ultimately jumped them in the standings. BSU will travel to Statesboro to face Georgia Southern this week.

9. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 7, down 2)

  • High vote: 7 (once)
  • Low vote: 9 (three)
  • Average vote: 8.66

The Ohio Bobcats have been humbled by two straight Power Five opponents in back-to-back weeks, suffering a 43-10 loss to Iowa State on Saturday. It was one of those “off the wrong foot” games from the start, as some early miscues gave the Cyclones the breating room they needed to keep the ‘Cats away from competitiveness.

This is still a team who is a work-in-progress, ultimately, but there’s a chance to get to .500 before the start of the MAC season with a game against an uneven Fordham Rams team.

8. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 12, up 4)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (once)
  • Average vote: 8.16


BGSU, a week after drowning their sorrows following a 7OT loss to Eastern Kentucky, came back and found enough fuel in the tank to take down old conference mate Marshall, a giant-slayer in Week 2, to pick up their first win of the season on Homecoming Day.

Matt McDonald lit up the scoreboard once again in this one, with the Falcons QB tossing four more touchdowns to bring his season total to 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in an incredible effort to keep BGSU relevant in this week’s game.

It’s a much tougher row to plow this week, however, with Mississippi State ahead of them.

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

  • High vote: 3 (once)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.83

As we’ve been setting up the last few weeks, we still don’t really know a lot about what this team is capable of. With such extreme performances between multiple potential Playoff contenders and the traditional FCS cupcake, it can be hard to triangulate where exactly this team is.

But credit where it’s due, as Kent State eviscerated Long Island by a 63-10 final tally. This is the same Sharks team who fought Toledo to an admirable 31-0 result in Week 1, so just on the common opponent factor, KSU could be right up there talent-wise for one of the best teams in the conference.

For now though, they’re 1-2 with a game against the national champion Georgia Bulldogs upcoming, which will be, uh, woo. Oh boy. We’re not expecting a jump here until the conference season, we’ll put it that way.

6. Miami RedHawks (LW: 5, down 1)

  • High vote: 3 (once)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.5

Miami raced out to a 17-7 led against Cincinnati at a “neutral” location early on Saturday afternoon, which was awesome for them considering how many injuries they were suffering from. But the inevitable happened, as the Bearcats figured out their slow start and took down the RedHawks 38-17— and took over the lead for the Victory Bell trophy all-time series.

We’re still in a bit of a holding pattern until Brett Gabbert’s health status is clarified, but Miami hasn’t looked terribly overwhelmed without him so far, which is encouraging for their future regardless. They take on a Northwestern squad who just lost in embarrassing fashion to FCS Southern Illinois.

5. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 3, down 2)

  • High vote: 1 (once)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 4.83

Northern Illinois continues to be an absolute enigma.

There have been points in every game this season where NIU has looked extremely the part of a defending MAC champion at points, showing aggressive efficiency on offense and holding up on defense— but also showing a lot of moments where they seemingly lack intensity and allow opponents back into the game.

This week showed both of those aspects of the team in spades, building up a huge two-possession lead against Vanderbilt in the first half before squandering a fourth-and-one conversion early in the third quarter and letting Vanderbilt go on a 24-7 streak to end the game.

Their performance resulted in getting at least one first place vote, while also netting at least one ninth-place vote, showing the wild variety of opinions on the Huskies.

Kentucky is up next on the schedule.

t-3. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 4, up 1)

  • High vote: 2 (once)
  • Low vote: 7 (once)
  • Average vote: 3.83

CMU had their get-right game against Bucknell on Saturday, posting up a 41-0 victory on their home grounds to finally get on the left side of the record column in a game where they missed several key pieces.

It was not the most spectacular of results, it must be said. The Chips dragged themselves to a 7-0 lead going into the halftime break, and relied on some luck on special teams to ignite what would eventually be the final score. But they also left at least 10 points on the table— and potentially more points as well if the offense was just that much more efficient.

The voters continue to give CMU the benefit of the doubt on the strength of the on-roster talent as they head into a game against Penn State; if CMU comes out of the gates slowly for a fourth time, there is genuine cause for concern.

t-3. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 2, down 1)

  • High vote: 2 (three)
  • Low vote: 7 (once)
  • Average vote: 3.83

WMU just never really got going against an ailing Pittsburgh, looking outmatched and overwhelmed from the start of the game on Saturday.

Considering their performance against Michigan State on the road and how promising that looked back in Week 1, it’s a bit startling and feels like a regression. The finger could certainly be pointed towards the offense on this one, which could not get going on the ground or in the air, forcing the defense to make plays over and over again.

But much like their rival, WMU still projects to be a decent program, and is technically the division leader on the strength of their win against Ball State in Week 2. They’re still controlling their own destiny for now.

2. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 8, up 6)

  • High vote: 1 (twice)
  • Low vote: 5 (twice)
  • Average vote: 3.16


The biggest riser of the week is the Eastern Michigan Eagles, who not just took a win against the Arizona State Sun Devils, but dominated them in a 30-21 road win which culminated in the firing of Herm Edwards as the ASU head coach.

They were able to do so even after starting QB Taylor Powell went down early, shifting to more of a read-option look with running back/Wildcat QB Samson Evans leading the way as the offensive dynamo, picking up 258 yards on a defense filled with PAC-12 talent. The defense even popped up in major spots, recovering fumbles and pulling down key stops when it was absolutely necessary.

This is the most stressful team to watch on a week-to-week basis, as the first three weeks of movement shows, but this could be the win which finally gets EMU in gear. They take on a vulnerable Buffalo in their league opener this weekend.

1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)

  • High vote: 1 (three)
  • Low vote: 4 (once)
  • Average vote: 2

The Toledo Rockets were probably not ever really going to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road, so a loss by a final score of 77-21 doesn’t really have any impact on how the voters felt about the potential of this UT program at the end of the day. Because of that, they retain their #1 ranking— although this week, they were not unanimous.

The Rockets took it to the Buckeyes early, with Dequan Finn single-handedly keeping Toledo in the game with two touchdowns in the first half, but at the end of the day, the Buckeyes were just too much (as they will be for basically any team this year.) It was an admirable performance in an impossible position, which showed some great potential for this team’s offense especially.

The Rockets look to finish the non-con season above .500 against San Diego State on the road.

Anonymized ranking

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

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!