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2023 MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 7

A sobering moment for the Bobcats puts the league in flux.

Kenneth Bailey

Week 8 is here, but before we get to that, let’s re-rack where the teams currently stand after a wild week that was.

A couple housekeeping notes: we had a clerical error for the Week 6 rankings due to an unknown formula glitch which has since been fixed. As it only affected one team, we will not be going back to fix the error retroactively, but did want to point it out for transparency’s sake. Also, starting next week, these Power Rankings will be coming out on Mondays due to the shift to the weeknight season. So please be aware of that if you’re a weekly reader!

Without further ado: let’s go 12-1 in the rankings:

12. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 11, down 1)

  • High vote: 11 (twice)
  • Low vote: 12 (five)
  • Average vote: 11.71

Kent State still looks like a team in flux, making a number of adjustments to the offense and defense to try and find anything they could against an Eastern Michigan team who never looked under threat at any point. The Flashes trotted out two quarterbacks in this contest, and it’ll be interesting to track if Michael Alaimo keeps his job or if Tommy Ulatowski can uspurp him in the latter part of the season. Another thing to look forward to? The KSU running attack, which posted 163 yards on 43 carries.

11. Akron Zips (LW: 12, up 1)

  • High vote: 10 (once)
  • Low vote: 12 (once)
  • Average vote: 11

Akron looked pretty helpless in their game against Central until the fourth quarter, when Jeff Undercuffler Jr. replaced Tahj Bullock. Undercuffler led the only touchdown drive of the afternoon for Akron and put CMU under threat. They’ll be left to wonder if a change earlier in the game would have been more beneficial, as Bullock’s inability to avoid pressure put them in a bad situation quite often. It’s too bad that’s the case because the Akron defense once again stood on their head to keep the game competitive.

10. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 10)

  • High vote: 9 (twice)
  • Low vote: 12 (once)
  • Average vote: 10

If Ball State could figure out how to operate an offense, they’d certainly be in a lot better position than they are right now. This week saw Kiael Kelly take the reins at QB, and while they were able to move the ball somewhat in horrid conditions, they just couldn’t find that finishing move. Much like Akron below them, the offense failed a fantastic defensive effort, as the points-stopping unit contained a solid Toledo offense to just 6 points until the last drive of the game.

9. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 9)

  • High vote: 9 (five)
  • Low vote: 10 (twice)
  • Average vote: 9.28

The Bulls put down another shocking performance, this time at home vs. Bowling Green. They jumped out to a quick lead, but then gave up 24 consecutive points in what turned out to be an absolute drumming. The Bulls were shockingly careless with the ball, tossing four interception and losing a fumble, while also limited to just 3-of-11 on third-downs and 1-of-4 on fourth downs. It’s hard to see them being able to claw back into contention at the moment.

8. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 6, down 2)

  • High vote: 7 (twice)
  • Low vote: 8 (five)
  • Average vote: 7.71

The Broncos put up a decent effort against Miami in front of the home crowd, but like many teams in the MAC this season, they haven’t been able to maintain consistency, and it’s because of quarterback play, with Treyson Bourguet given the hook midway for Hayden Wolff. The frustrating part is that WMU actually showed decent defense; the RedHawks were limited to just 92 rushing yards and 223 passing yards, but just could not stop them from scoring or replying on the other side. (Boy do we sound like a broken record right now.) It doesn’t get any easier from here on the schedule for WMU.

7. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 8, up 1)

  • High vote: 6 (twice)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.85

Bowling Green pulled off a rip-roaring win over division foe Buffalo in perhaps one of the most shocking results of the MAC season so far. It wasn’t just that BGSU beat them as betting underdogs, it was how they did it. They fell behind early, but then rallied to bully Buffalo into coughing up five turnovers, converting 24 straight points in the first half to force UB into scramble mode. The defense set the tone in this one, keeping UB to just 238 total yards on top of the forced turnovers. A helluva rebound after the atrocious outing against Miami the week prior.

6. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 5, down 1)

  • High vote: 4 (once)
  • Low vote: 6 (four)
  • Average vote: 5.42

Not often you drop down a spot after a victory, but that’s where Central finds themselves after a very ugly win against the Akron Zips at home on a grey, rainy day in Mt. Pleasant. For as much as Akron struggled, Central struggled similarly, with two early interceptions and an 8-of-20 third-down conversion rate. They also missed two field goals and had to hold off several late Akron rallies to preserve the win. On a positive note, the defense did what it was supposed to, limiting the Zips to just 193 yards and 3-of-13 on third-down attempts. They need to continue to persevere like this if they want to maintain pace in a four-way tie for second.

5. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 6, up 2)

  • High vote: 4 (three)
  • Low vote: 8 (once)
  • Average vote: 5.14

NIU, as ever, is one of the MAC’s most undeniably entertaining teams. Whether that’s good or bad entertainment is up to the Huskies. The first few weeks of the season were a nightmare, but the last two weeks have been especially great for the NIU faithful. Their victory against the Ohio Bobcats has thrown the MAC into chaos mode right before the start of weeknight games, while also preserving their run at the top of the division should Toledo lose at some point. It was (once again) an excellent defensive performance, as they forced four turnovers— including three straight INTs— to snatch away a vital cross-division win.

4. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 4)

  • High vote: 4 (three)
  • Low vote: 6 (once)
  • Average vote: 4.71

Eastern Michigan keeps finding ways to win, even when the stats show they were outmatched for the most part. It’s the one thing most of their game logs show; they’re not going to put up many yards or points, but the Eagles are also very good at making sure your team doesn’t score either. This fleshed itself out vs. Kent State, as EMU was outgained 343 yards to 218, while logging less first downs, less time-of-possession and more punts— but won 28-14 on the strength of three recovered KSU fumbles and average start position. Whey you get short field, it doesn’t matter if you’re one of the worst offenses in the NCAA.

3. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 1, down 2)

  • High vote: 2 (once)
  • Low vote: 3 (six)
  • Average vote: 2.85

Ohio falls two spots after a shocker of a loss to NIU. Rourke was uncharacteristically spooked against NIU’s swarming, aggressive defense, which fooled him into tossing a lot of bad throws. It put a typically stoic Ohio defense in a bad spot, and they ultimately bent to NIU’s will. The loss puts them in a bad place, to keep it simple. Their get-out-of-jail-free card has effectively been used, as now they can only regain control of the division with a RedHawks loss— whether that’s to Ohio or someone else. They have to rebound and quick, as their schedule only toughens up from here.

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

  • High vote: 1 (once)
  • Low vote: 3 (once)
  • Average vote: 2

The Rockets fall down despite a win over Ball State to remain undefeated in league play. The first of the MAC teams to become bowl eligible has had some particularly vulnerable moments throughout the season in a way we maybe did not quite expect. This week, they had to fight the elements,the opponent and their own offensive inefficiencies to survive and advance. Against NIU, Toledo allowed the Huskies to find their offensive element in a narrow win. The Rockets feel ripe for a let down, and a marquee matchup such as their upcoming game on Saturday vs. Miami could be that moment if they’re not careful.

1. Miami RedHawks (LW: 2, up 1)

  • High vote: 1 (six)
  • Low vote: 2 (once)
  • Average vote: 1.14

We tried to warn you a few rankings back, but Miami has finally made themselves known, taking care of business to march their way to a 6-1 (3-0 MAC) record to maintain sole possession of the MAC East lead. They did so this week with a (relatively) comfortable win against Western Michigan, having to depend more on the possession pass game more than usual for a team who likes to run the ball a lot. Graham Nicholson going 3-of-3 on field goals complimented Brett Gabbert’s four total touchdowns well, and the offense was proficient in carrying drives, with 7-of-14 third-down conversions and 17 total first downs. Miami has a real chance to make a statement vs. Toledo this weekend.

Anonymized ranking

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

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!