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2023 MAC Football Power Rankings: Week 2

Toledo is still tops, while the middle of the table creates distance amongst themselves. Boca Raton Bowl - Liberty v Toledo Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Week 2 was, suffice to say, a rough one for the MAC.

Teams did a lot to separate from each other with a lot of uneven or downright bad performances, forcing a lot of churning in the middle of the standings. As we stare down the barrel of Week 3, let’s evaluate where our writers believe the teams currently stand.

Without further ado, onto this week’s rankings:

12. Western Michigan Broncos (LW: 11, down 1)

  • High vote: 8 (once)
  • Low vote: 12 (five)
  • Average vote: 11.25

Western is feeling more and more like a random assemblage of pieces that are failing to congeal. They managed to beat St. Francis and then got taken to the cleaners by Syracuse, and Jack Salopek is really struggling with this receiving corps of mostly transfers; Sacred Heart transfer Kenneth Womack is currently the team’s leading receiver despite not catching a touchdown this season yet. It doesn’t get any easier, as they play an Iowa team that is finally looking like it can branch out from Ferentzball. — Alexis

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

  • High vote: 9 (once)
  • Low vote: 11 (five)
  • Average vote: 10.14

Kent State’s brutal road trip continued on Saturday, traveling over to another Power Five foe in the form of the Arkansas Razorbacks. To their credit, they held up pretty admirably throughout the game, keeping it to a respectable 28-6 margin. That’s certainly better than the 56-7 mauling they faced the week prior vs. UCF, but they’re still 0-2 and in a clear rebuild. — James

10. Buffalo Bulls (LW: 5, down 5)

  • High vote: 7 (once)
  • Low vote: 12 (twice)
  • Average vote: 9.42

Oh no, Buffalo.

Last year’s loss to Holy Cross could be excused for several reasons. The Crusaders were a legit Playoff contender who had to convert a Hail Mary to win the game on the road in a game where Buffalo controlled most of the game. This game against Fordham in comparison was inexplicably bad, bordering on unacceptable. They looked outclassed, and were never in firm confidence to an FCS team who were blown out badly two weeks prior by UAlbany. There’s a lot to answer for here. — James

9. Northern Illinois Huskies (LW: t-3, down 6)

  • High vote: 8 (twice)
  • Low vote: 10 (twice)
  • Average vote: 9.14


I called the Huskies a classic overachiever who rode on unrealistic performances to carry them to eight wins a season in last week’s Roundtable. And what happened? Losing in an ugly, ugly game against a very good Southern Illinois team. Not only did they not prove me wrong, they proved me exactly right. Will they actually put up a fight against a moribund Nebraska program? Let’s see. — Alexis

8. Akron Zips (LW: 8)

  • High vote: 6 (twice)
  • Low vote: 10 (twice)
  • Average vote: 8

Like Buffalo, the Zips will be doing a lot of looking in the mirror after a simply brutal performance vs. Morgan State. The offense mustered a pathetic 10 points vs. a middling FCS team, and had five turnovers. The defense couldn’t stop the Bears from being opportunistic with short fields either, compounding the issue. Were it not for the last-minute miracle play from Bryan McCoy, they’re in deep doo-doo. Instead, they stay in place due to other impressively bad performances. — James

7. Bowling Green Falcons (LW: 10, up 3)

  • High vote: 5 (twice)
  • Low vote: 10 (twice)
  • Average vote: 7.14

You don’t typically learn a lot from comfortable FCS/FBS wins, but Bowling Green needed this game badly after laying an absolute egg against Liberty to start the season the week prior. The offense looked proficient and the defense, outside of a few breaks, looked fairly decent against a team they were plainly better than. It was not perfect, and there’s going to be some tougher matches ahead, but you’re pretty happy with it if you’re a Falcons fan.

Given some of the results this week, beating who is in front of you is a very good thing to do, and BGSU did just that. — James

6. Ball State Cardinals (LW: 7, up 1)

  • High vote: 5 (twice)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.57

You know what’s really convenient? Opening your season against two SEC programs, one of which is #1 in the country. Is Ball State actually good? Are they actually hot garbage? Who knows! It’s like a subscription box service that sends you package of random stuff on a theme, except you don’t know the theme and you don’t know the subscription. You’re just getting boxes of mysteries every week, and it could be two pounds of solid gold, or two pounds of Muncie’s Finest. I guess we find out this week against Indiana State! — Alexis

5. Central Michigan Chippewas (LW: 9, up 4)

  • High vote: 5 (three)
  • Low vote: 9 (once)
  • Average vote: 6.14

Central falls into the rather large category of MAC programs whose opening two games may or may not actually be indicative of the program who played them. Losing badly to Michigan State, then beating a very good New Hampshire team. Probably going to get shown their own backside by Notre Dame, and then a pretty decent Tier 2 program in South Alabama. Are either of those games gonna tell us anything about Central? Is Bert Emanuel Jr. actually a good quarterback? Do the Chippewas have a running game? Is Chris Parker truly the WR1 of this team, or is he merely reaping the rewards of favorable matchups? All this and more in the next two weeks! — Alexis

4. Miami RedHawks (LW: 6, up 2)

  • High vote: 3 (once)
  • Low vote: 4 (five)
  • Average vote: 3.85

Weather-affected games can go a variety of ways, as the uncertainty of the conditions can create a lot of randomness. However, the RedHawks took over the game and put it in their hands from the word go, forcing UMass to play at their pace through the elements in what wound up being a win that was not as close as it appeared.

There’s some plays Miami certainly would like back in this one, but they’ve learned they’ve got some verifiable stars at receiver and running back they can lean upon going into the MAC season. Keep an eye out for that chemistry as the year goes on. — James

3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (LW: 4, up 1)

  • High vote: 3 (five)
  • Low vote: 4 (once)
  • Average vote: 3.14

I want Eastern to be good so, so bad. I had such high hopes for this program, had them tabbed at #3 in the conference in the preseason, have given them favorable predictions in both of their games, but the Minnesota loss really bummed me out. However, that’s not the be-all-end-all of this team, and they have a chance to clean up and finish their out-of-conference schedule on a high note against Tier 2 also-ran Massachusetts and FBS newcomer Jacksonville State. (Who is, incidentally, based out of Jacksonville, Alabama, not Florida!) — Alexis

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

  • Unanimous #2

We had a lot of concerns about this team over the last couple weeks as Kurtis Rourke’s health brought to question just how competitive Ohio could be. Well, thankfully for Ohio, as long as Rourke is at the commands, this team is absolutely a Top 2 unit in the MAC.

Rourke’s ability to force the defense to respect him does so much for the ‘Cats offense in terms of opening up the field and keeping teams guessing, which has the trickle-down effect of allowing an already-stout defense to stay aggressive to protect a lead. Case in point: the defense allowed just five rushing yards vs. FAU while picking up nine TFLs, three sacks and two interceptions. — James

1. Toledo Rockets (LW: 1)

  • Unanimous #1

Dequan Finn is my guy. I love this Rockets team so much. What more needs to be said? Strong performances in all of their games, a near-win against Illinois, and the presumptive pick for the conference title before even reaching the conference stretch. They’re absolutely firing on all cylinders and if other Tier 2 programs that were touted in the preseason keep disappointing, watch out for the Rockets to be the first non-American Athletic Conference Tier 2 program to make a New Year’s Six bowl since Western Michigan did it over seven years ago. — Alexis

Anonymized ranking

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

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!