This week, there’s a lot of agreement on where the teams rank between our seven voters, as the layers of the table are starting to solidify in front of our eyes as the weeknight season starts to wind down.
There’s five (!!!) unanimous teams in the rankings this week, and lots of the individual rankings only have one or two detractors from consensus.
Where does your favorite team sit as we round the last turn before the homestretch run?
12. Kent State Golden Flashes (LW: 12)
- Unanimous #12
A rivalry game under the lights against BGSU could have served as a catalyst for showing off progress after coming off a heartbreaker to Akron, but instead, they were outclassed from start-to-finish. There are no easy answers to fix what ails them, either, as every phase of the game showed off significant flaws. Kent State is still on the hunt for their first win against an FBS side, with only cross-divisional games against Ball State and NIU on deck.
Unfortunately, neither of those are a given for a victory.
11. Akron Zips (LW: 11)
- Unanimous #11
The Zips fell back to earth in a bad loss to the Miami RedHawks, getting shut out while getting into the Miami redzone just once after the game was well out of reach— before throwing an interception late to seal the result. Akron did actually outperform the RedHawks offensively in total yards, but it was turnovers (two interceptions in scoring positions) and a lack of success on third-and-fourth downs which ultimately sunk the Zips in this one, as they went 2-of-14 and 0-of-4 respectively in those statistics.
They look to send EMU further into their death spiral this week.
10. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 9, down 1)
- High vote: 7 (once)
- Low vote: 10 (six)
- Average vote: 9.57
The Bulls cratered their postseason chances with a loss against the Ohio Bobcats this week, sinking below the six-loss threshold after a promising start to the league season. It’s not really a terrible surprise; the formula to UB’s success at this point is forcing turnovers and scoring efficiently on short field. They were unable to accomplish either of those goals against a team far more talented, losing in turnover margin and never starting a drive further than their own 35-yard line.
They’ll face Miami next.
9. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 10, up 1)
- High vote: 8 (once)
- Low vote: 9 (six)
- Average vote: 8.85
The Cardinals showed grit on the road, walking out with the Bronze Stalk trophy against an NIU team who was likely looking at Ball State as an easy win for a bowl bid. It was not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but they turned in clutch plays when it mattered, with three takeaways, a 10-of-18 third-down conversion rate, and a walk-off game-winning field goal from true freshman kicker Jackson Courville to nab the win. It’s great to see this team hasn’t given up despite falling out of postseason consideration.
Ball State will take on Kent State looking to add another win to the ledger.
8. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 8)
- High vote: 7 (once)
- Low vote: 9 (twice)
- Average vote: 8.14
EMU’s slow death rattle continues to reverberate, as a team which has looked pretty listless since September continues to put forth baffling results. This week, they had the misfortune of facing a motivated Toledo team, who took EMU to the woodshed in order to secure the MAC West division title. It was a complete evisceration, as EMU couldn’t get to double-digits until deep in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets’ second units had taken the field. There’s no solutions to be found here except to win and win quickly.
They’ll try to maintain bowl eligibility against Akron this week.
7. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: 6, down 1)
- High vote: 6 (once)
- Low vote: 10 (once)
- Average vote: 7.42
NIU once again put up an inexplicable performance, playing their way out of a win for the second week in a row, this time against Ball State. Much like the week prior against CMU, the Huskies turned the ball over three times and the opposing team took advantage, turning what could have been one-possession wins into one-possession losses. It’s been a bit of a pattern with NIU under Thomas Hammock, and we’re left to wonder how long that will be tolerated in DeKalb, especially in light of other results from this season.
NIU must win out to get to a bowl game, and next take on WMU.
6. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 4, down 2)
- High vote: 5 (five)
- Low vote: 8 (once)
- Average vote: 6.42
The Chips folded against Western Michigan in a loss which was frustrating for many fans of the program. They feel behind by three scores early, then came alive in the third quarter for 21 unanswered points before getting punched right back in the gut (literally and figuratively) with a quick forced turnover by the WMU defense. After that, it was all Broncos, as the CMU defense fell apart trying to make up for the offensive gaffes. The Chips have gone from looking at bringing home two trophies and a bowl bid to being in a must-win situation.
They have to travel to Ohio for their next chance to clinch a bowl game.
5. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 7, up 2)
- Unanimous #5
Not often you get a unanimous #5 team, but the levels of separation are such to where you’ll get situations like this. WMU has seemingly shifted into a new gear in the second half of the season, going 3-3 in their last six contests after starting 1-3, including a two-game win streak. Their development was evident this week vs. CMU, as they faced a lot of in-game adversity against a rival on home turf, but stayed even-keeled to persevere and take both rivalry trophies. The biggest change has been at quarterback, as Hayden Wolff has been a saving grace to give the Broncos much-needed offensive balance.
They take on NIU next to try and to preserve a chance at a bowl game in Lance Taylor’s first season.
4. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 5, up 1)
- High vote: 3 (once)
- Low vote: 4 (six)
- Average vote: 3.85
BGSU throttled Kent State to win the Anniversary Award under the weeknight lights despite not having a full compliment of players due to injury. With the win, they attained bowl eligibility and are now on a four-game winning streak for the first time in nearly a decade. They’re also (very technically!) still in MAC East division contention should a rather specific number of results fall their way.
They look to extend their winning streak— and odds of a trip to Detroit— with a win in the Battle of I-75 vs. Toledo.
3. Ohio Bobcats (LW: 3)
- High vote: 2 (once)
- Low vote: 3 (once)
- Average vote: 3.145
Ohio has clearly settled into the third spot in the Power Rankings after a head-to-head loss to Miami a few weeks back. No longer holding control on the MAC East race, they continue to try and keep pace by winning. They did just that against Buffalo this week, though it was a slow-brewing result. Slow starts have been a bit of a theme for ‘Cats in 2023, as the offense has looked really disorganized at points despite the sheer amount of talent on the roster. Thankfully, the defense continues to put on a stellar effort to carry them to wins.
They take on Central Michigan at home next.
2. Miami RedHawks (LW: 3, up 1)
- Unanimous #2
The RedHawks took care of business against the Akron Zips, collecting their second shutout in league play. As always, they did so with an aggressive, swarming defense and dominating the field position battle, holding Akron to 2-of-18 on key downs and allowing the Zips in to the redzone just once. If there’s one frustration with this team which holds us back from crowning them the best team, it’s their conservative nature; because this team doesn’t take risks and lifts off the gas once they’ve secured a lead, we’ll never see them at peak performance. Given their performance, 19-0 just feels like they left a lot on the table.
Miami takes on Buffalo looking to secure all-important division wins.
1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)
- Unanimous #1
The Rockets kicked the ever-loved crap out of Eastern Michigan, who several prognosticators suggested could give Toledo a bit of a fight for the division in preseason polling. Ultimately, the games are played on the field. not on paper, and Toledo has been the best team on the field in just about every measure in the MAC thus far in 2023. They clinched the West early once again, and will now have three weeks to prepare for whoever comes out of the East before traveling to Detroit for a chance to repeat as MAC champions. Toledo holds one of the best offenses in the country and one of the best defenses in the league— oh, and special teams have been explosive recently too. It’s hard to find flaws.
They’ll next play BGSU in some rivalry #MACtion under the lights.
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