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MAC QB1 Power Rankings: Is it No Score November or Something?
Eight starting MAC quarterbacks went without throwing a touchdown in Week 12.
#1 Dequan Finn - Toledo
Dequan Finn stats (season): 174/264 passing (65.9%), 2,287 yards (8.7 Y/A), 20 TD, 8 INT; 101 rush att., 506 yards (5.01 avg.), 6 rush TD
Dequan Finn is, inarguably, more deserving than anybody to stay atop of this QB rankings list, but that’s not to say he’s without his faults. He’s lucky that his second-half interception, which sailed about five feet over his intended target’s head, didn’t turn into anything more than a field goal. But, as always, we have to give credit where it’s due. On the following drive, Toledo faced a game-on-the-line 4th down & 2 on BG’s side of the field. Finn kept it cool and hit his track star of a running back Jacquez Stewart go 59 yards to the house for a go-ahead touchdown.
For the day, Finn was 20/30 passing for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. His pal Peny Boone was certainly a star in his own right in the game: 15 carries, 131 yards, 1 TD, and a long of 55 yards.
Yeah, Finn’s just really good. He’s not a traditional quarterback by any means, considering there were more doors for him to play defensive back than quarterback in college, but he’s bet on himself and has turned out to be one of the best QBs in Toledo history, and is finally seeing himself as the star of an AP Top 25 team.
#2 Hayden Wolff - Western Michigan
Hayden Wolff stats (season): 131/199 passing (65.8%), 1,382 yards (6.9 Y/A), 8 TD, 3 INT; 34 rush att., 18 yards (0.53 avg.), 2 rush TD
Personal opinion in the phrase of a question: What was that play-calling for the Bronco offense? Ever since Lance Taylor and Lou Esposito got into it on the sideline during the Central game, I’ve been looking at this WMU squad as a tale of two teams. There’s Western’s offense, and there’s Western’s defense. Western’s defense is a unit that I think has played really well all year, and the offense, as expected, has had its growing pains. As organized as and prepared as it’s been during the first half of the year, this two-teams-in-one approach looks like it’s finally starting to blow up in its own face. The offense found itself in too many third-down situations, and then barely got out of those (4 of 13) while Wolff got sacked four times. WMU scoring 0 points in DeKalb is a huge coaching loss and Wolff’s day (18/31, 182 yards) wasn’t alarmingly bad. Mundane day at worst.
#3 Kurtis Rourke - Ohio
Kurtis Rourke stats (season): 176/277 passing (63.5%), 1,999 yards (7.2 Y/A), 10 TD, 5 INT; 58 rush att., 209 yards (3.6 avg.), 3 rush TD
No, Kurtis Rourke still hasn’t lit things up like you remember him doing last year, and the Central Michigan game ended up being a good MAC defensive game. No passing touchdowns from the Maple Missle, but let me, who runs an EMU football website, shout out CMU’s secondary. That unit played its absolute ass off and Sam Wiglusz had to work for all three catches and fifty-one yards picked up against this team. Only two official pass breakups for the CMU defense, but I promise you the coverage was much tighter than the box represents. Rourke needed to distribute the ball to six receivers and catch a pass himself to put RB O’Shaan Allison (13 rush yards, 2 TD), and K Gianni Spetic (2/3 FG, 4/4 PAT) in scoring positions. Rourke finished 15 of 23 for 222 yards on the box score, but his rushing touchdown and Seih Bangura’s three-digit rushing day gave the Bobcats a chance offensively.
#4 Rocky Lombardi - Northern Illinois
Rocky Lombardi stats (season): 162/280 passing (57.9%), 1,891 yards (6.8 Y/A), 9 TD, 5 INT; 60 rush att., 89 yards (1.48 avg.), 4 rush TD
Red alert for NIU’s offense the rest of the way. NIU blew out Western Michigan, but if Antario Brown’s injury is worse than Thomas Hammock is letting on, then this offense is in deep doo-doo. Lombardi has only thrown one interception all MAC season, but he hasn’t been an individual difference-maker like he was in 2021. Lombardi was a modest 9 of 17 passing for 92 yards, his worst passing line of the MAC season, and has been on slowly on the decline in that regard.
Just look at his passing percentage:
I, admittedly, want to put Lombardi down a spot and CMU’s Jase Bauer up here at #4. Why I can’t? Bauer just had his worst statistical game of the year against Ohio, in an environment where Lombardi and NIU had better days than CMU.
#5 Jase Bauer - Central Michigan
Jase Bauer stats (season): 148/261 passing (56.7%), 1,699 yards (6.5 Y/A), 11 TD, 8 INT; 109 rush att., 366 yards (3.36 avg.), 9 rush TD
Jase Bauer has everybody’s respect as a runner, which is exactly why Ohio’s strong defense made sure to never let him have any consequential gains on the ground. Last week’s game was the first time Bauer was held to a negative rushing total on the year (-2 yards) and was under 50% throwing in Athens (10 of 21). In a year with a stronger MAC QB class, I’d probably have to weigh his first-quarter pick six to the undersized DE Shane Bonner (6-flat, 220 lbs.) a little more heavily against him. And if it weren’t for a bonehead penalty miles away from the play by Ohio’s defense, Bauer’s big sack that turned into a big fumble would’ve given Ohio the football inside CMU’s 40 late in the third quarter.
Didn’t love those. What I did love from Bauer was his 50 and 62-yard bombs to give CMU some life on the scoreboard. Bauer doesn’t have all the talent in the world, but he’s a smart football player and an inspired decision-maker. He’s held up well for CMU, and he’s a big reason why the Chippewas still have a bowl game to play for.
#6 Jeff Undercuffler - Akron
Jeff Undercuffler stats (season): 122/197 passing (61.9%), 1,275 yards (6.5 Y/A), 4 TD, 8 INT; 21 rush att., -173 yards (-8.3 avg.), 1 rush TD
Akron’s mix of Jeff Undercuffler with Tahj Bullock certainly helped the Zips throughout the game, but shortened fields in overtime gave EMU the post-regulation advantage. Plus, a pair of Akron defenders left the game in the second half with an injury and targeting penalty. Undercuffler’s a huge liability in the run game, which is a need in this league, but he’s been able to help his receivers make big plays this season (Daniel George 46-yard catch, Jasaiah Gathings 31-yard catch vs. EMU), and I think he’s a solid enough quarterback to lead an offense into a bowl game, but not if he has to keep playing behind that Akron O-line.
#7 Aveon Smith - Miami OH
Aveon Smith stats (season): 28/56 passing (50%), 359 yards (6.4 Y/A), 1 TD, 0 INT; 48 rush att., 173 yards (3.6 avg.), 1 rush TD
Last week, I would’ve picked Aveon Smith 12th if you gave me 12 MAC quarterbacks to theoretically ‘draft’. Now I want to be a lot nicer. Smith, taking over for Brett Gabbert again this year, is still growing as a passer in real-time, but I like the poise he showed against Buffalo, and I don’t think he had many bad misses, either. He’ll always be a better runner than thrower, and Rashad Amos can help take some pressure away when he’s cooking (82 rush yards, 2 TD vs. Buffalo). If his receivers don’t drop any more wide-open passes, then Smith’s passing numbers should continue to improve right as he’s preparing to go to Detroit.
#8 Austin Smith - Eastern Michigan
Austin Smith stats (season): 152/271 passing (56.1%), 1,634 yards (6 Y/A), 8 TD, 7 INT; 95 rush att., 105 yards (1.11 avg.), 1 rush TD
Respect to EMU’s offense, led by Austin Smith, to come back and beat Akron in a game where the rest of the season was truly up to them to come back and win and remain bowl-hopeful. EMU’s offense needed the two overtimes at home to finish 5-1 at Rynearson Stadium this season, and Smith came through with a 20/32 passing day for 214 yards and 1 TD.
#9 Kiael Kelly - Ball State
Kiael Kelly (season): 52/105 passing (49.5%), 486 yards (4.6 Y/A), 1 TD, 1 INT; 115 rush att., 588 yards (5.11 avg.), 7 rush TD
There’s a limit to how highly I can consider Kiael Kelly to be ranked on here when his passing game is as sluggish as anybody’s.
But has anybody noticed that Kelly has surpassed Finn as the MAC’s top rushing QB? Kelly has 588 rush yards on 115 carries, Finn has 506 yards on 101 rushes. Not bad for the Ball State quarterback who hasn’t started a game until the middle of October with the team far from full strength.
#10 Connor Bazelak - Bowling Green
Connor Bazelak stats (season): 130/216 passing (60.2%), 1,492 yards (6.9 Y/A), 9 TD, 7 INT; 35 rush att., -71 yards (-2.03 avg.), 1 rush TD
Where would Bowling Green’s passing attack be without Harold Fannin Jr.?
No, he’s not the best tight end this conference has ever fielded (to this point) but he’s bailed Bowling Green’s QB consortium of Connor Bazelak and Camden Orth plenty of times this season, and had to make tough play after tough play for this offense to get scores or first downs. He’s a big-play making tight end that had a lot to do with how last week’s rivalry game with Toledo went.
#11 Cole Snyder - Buffalo
Cole Snyder stats (season): 192/346 passing (55.5%), 1,974 yards (5.7 Y/A), 13 TD, 9 INT; 66 rush att., 90 yards (1.36 avg.), 1 rush TD
Buffalo really doesn’t like doing the two-quarterback thing but it sort of has to now. To be frank, the offense doesn’t completely benefit one way or the other when either Cole Snyder or C.J. Ogbonna are on the field.
#12 ???? - Kent State
Tommy Ulatowski stats (season): 60/121 passing (49.6%), 737 yards (6.1 Y/A), 7 TD, 2 INT; 47 rush att., 89 yards (1.89 avg.), 1 rush TD
Kent State’s season is lost and it just let Ball State rip off 315 rushing yards against them. Does the quarterback situation really matter at this point?
Tommy Ulatowski was 3 of 10 and Devin Kargman came in to be 5 of 12 through the air. They combined for 68 yards passing, and rest of the offense had 56 rushing yards. I really liked the way Ulatowski was growing into his role, but this game made Kent State look like it’s back to being the most worth-being-ignored team in the MAC.