Week 1 is finally in the books, and it’s officially the time of year to overreact to everything we saw over the last weekend of play, which saw teams play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to make things more digestible!
Generally, it can be hard to really get a read on most programs after Week 1, since opponents are typically either FCS buy games or contests against legitimate Power Five schools, but our voters tried their best to organize how they felt about each team’s performance given the circumstances.
There’s a lot of downward movement this week, but fret not: lots of downward movement means lots of upward movement as well. Where does your favorite team rank after the first week of action?
Without further ado: here are the rankings!
12. Akron Zips (Last Week: 12)
- High vote: 9 (one votes)
- Low vote: 12 (four)
- Average vote: 11.33
The Zips narrowly won their tune-up game against St. Francis (PA) on Tursday evening, and it took a scrappy effort in overtime to be able to walk out of InfoCision Stadium with a victory.
It was a tough look for a Zips team which brought in dozens of new faces over the offseason to try and prevent such performances as this, but as their game showed, there’s still a lot of work to be done— even if they technically still start the season 1-0.
Prospects of another win are bleak against a Michigan State team which just got done thumping a much better MAC unit.
11. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 10, down 1)
- High vote: 9 (once)
- Low vote: 12 (twice)
- Average vote: 10.66
BGSU certainly gave a talented UCLA team a good punch in the mouth early on in the Rose Bowl on Saturday, but they would end up giving in to both the relentless California heat (kickoff temps were at 103 degrees with no wind or shade) and the relentless UCLA offense, which would go on to outscore BG 45-7 after the Falcons took an early 10-0 lead.
There’s not a lot of reason for optimism at the moment, with injuries severely affecting BG’s ability to compete on offense. They next host EKU, who gave EMU a tough game last week and is considered at least a Top 30 team in FCS.
10. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 9, down 1)
- High vote: 9 (once)
- Low vote: 11 (four)
- Average vote: 10.5
Ball State tried as much as they could, but a first-pay interception generally doesn’t bode well for an upset attempt on the road. The Cards, who are still trying to solve a number of questions on both sides of the ball, just had no answers against a much more talented Tennessee program. And that’s fine!
They’ll have a chance to rebound in an early #MACtion game against Western Michigan, who should be a bit more of an evenly-talented challenger.
9. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 8, down 1)
- High vote: 6 (once)
- Low vote: 10 (three)
- Average vote: 8.66
There was some mystery surrounding the Bulls going into this game, as many fans still had no idea what the new-look team would look like. After Saturday afternoon’s affair with Maryland, there’s honestly still a lot we don’t know about this team.
The defense had an admirable performance outside of some explosive plays, but the offense is a work-in-progress. They’ll next host Holy Cross, a ranked FCS team, in their home opener this weekend. Perhaps we’ll learn more then.
8. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 5, down 3)
- High vote: 5 (once)
- Low vote: 9 (twice)
- Average vote: 7.5
EMU fought tooth-and-nail with an Eastern Kentucky team which showed a lot of moxie— and ability to stop the offense whenever they liked— on Friday evening.
This is a bit of a concern for Eagle fans, as it was clear the offense was frustrated by the inability to move the ball with consistency. The defense also looks like it’ll need a few weeks to figure it out as well, as EKU’s offense outgained EMU by nearly 100 yards and was 12-of-18 on third-down conversions.
EMU did not cover themselves in glory, and now they’re traveling to Lafayette to face a dangerous Ragin’ Cajuns side.
7. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 11, up 4)
- High vote: 4 (once)
- Low vote: 8 (twice)
- Average vote: 7.33
The Ohio Bobcats availed themselves in an unexpected fashion against an FAU squad which had just demolished a conference opponent during Week 0.
Ohio was a home underdog heading into the matchup, and could have folded after the visiting Owls went up 17-10 early in the first half. The ‘Cats did no such thing, scoring 24 unanswered to force FAU to play at their pace towards the end of the game. Even after the Owls caught back, up, the defense rose to the occasion and produced several key stops in the pouring rain.
It was an admirable effort, which should help them maintain some sort of positive momentum going into their game against Penn State.
t-5. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 8, up 3)
- High vote: 3 (once)
- Low vote: 8 (once)
- Average vote: 6
There was some pessimism about the Broncos to start the season due to a real lack of knowledge about what this team might look heading into 2022, especially with sheer dearth of talent loss.
This weekend did a lot in helping ease at least somem of those concerns, as the Broncos played a ranked Michigan State very tough in a game which was closer than the box score may indicate. There are, however, at least a few reservations, with the majority of voters scoring the Broncos sixth-place or lower this week.
WMU will look to impress once again in a very winnable game against Ball State in early conference play this week.
t-5. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 6, up 1)
- High vote: 5 (twice)
- Low vote: 7 (twice)
- Average vote: 6
Kent State isn’t afraid of taking on a bit of a challenge, that’s for certain.
They faced Washington on the road with a 10:30 p.m. Eastern time kick this past weekend, and had to endure a tough 45-20 loss in the process. It wasn’t a particularly close contest, with the Flashes going down 21-7 in the first quarter, but they certainly landed some decent punches, including a one-play, 47-yard drive ending in a Devontez Walker touchdown after an excellent kick return on the prior play.
This certainly feels like a more long-term projection than anything at current, especially since they next face Oklahoma this weekend.
4. Miami RedHawks (LW: 4)
- High vote: 3 (three)
- Low vote: 8 (once)
- Average vote: 4.1
The Miami RedHawks traveled to Kentucky to face a Wildcat team which is laden with expectations in 2022, with a potential first-round NFL prospect at QB and championship aspirations in the SEC East.
They held up decently, especially early on, exerting pressure on Kentucky by matching them possession-for-possession, going into the halftime break trailing only 13-10. An uncharacteristic Miami miscue on special teams gave UK a two-possession lead at the top of the third quarter, and momentum never came back around.
Miami showed their potential top-end talent— but also lost three starters on their offense, including QB Brett Gabbert, in the process. They’ll have a tune-up against Robert Morris with all the new guys this week.
3. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 1, down 2)
- High vote: 1 (once)
- Low vote: 5 (once)
- Average vote: 3.16
It was not NIU’s best performance this weekend, that’s for certain.
The defending MAC champions returned basically their entire roster in 2022, so it was reasonable to expect the same performance out of this team. Early on, this was certainly the case, as they built up a 28-6 lead in the third quarter. The rest of the game went very differently, as their defense allowed EIU to come back into the game and force the team to earn it late— a bad habit carried over from 2021.
NIU is lucky EIU mismanaged the game clock late in the proceedings, but a win is a win. They’ll take on Tulsa on the road in the next game, hoping to show a complete game in a hostile environment.
2. Toledo Rockets (LW: 3, up 1)
- High vote: 1 (once)
- Low vote: 2 (four)
- Average vote: 2.1
The Rockets were a bit slow to get going against a clearly inferior Long Island University side, but they still did what they were expected to do, picking up a 37-0 victory over the Sharks at the Glass Bowl.
On paper, this is a team which has all the pieces to win the MAC West and the MAC title outright, and it’s likely why they’re ranked so high at current. There are all-MAC pieces all over the offense and defense here for the Rockets, and their schedule is favorable, with two of their tougher conference contests (vs. CMU and Kent State) being at home. It’s all there for them, they just have to walk through the door.
They take on UMass this week to try to move to 2-0 in the young season.
1. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 2, up 1)
- High vote: 1 (four)
- Low vote: 3 (once)
- Average vote: 1.5
CMU was the team with the most first-place votes in the preseason rankings, but their average vote was lower than NIU’s, placing them #2.
This week, they claim the top spot after picking up the majority of first-place votes. It was an admirable effort against a ranked Oklahoma State on the road, as the Chippewas never gave up, trying hard as they could to bridge a 36-point gap in the second half, eventually forcing the Cowboys to bring the starters back in to stem the furious rally.
They had a few early miscues in the first half which put them behind he eight-ball, but thier second-half performance was genuinely impressive, getting to within 14 points (which could have been even slimmer were it not for a penalty on an interception.)
They showed their highest potential in that second half, outscoring OK State 29-14 in the second half, and will have another chance to show a complete game against South Alabama this Saturday.
|Akron||Ball State||Buffalo||Bowling Green||Central Mich||Eastern Mich||Kent State||Miami||NIU||Ohio||Toledo||Western Mich|
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!