Y11 Notes: MAC Football Power Ranking Update, No Right Answers
Even after a win, EMU slips in my power ranking through Week 5.
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Y11 Notes: Tuesday, Oct. 4
MAC FOOTBALL POWER RANKING: Pobody’s Nerfect
As pointed out by my good friend Justin Coffin, if Toledo and Eastern Michigan both, respectively, lose to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan this weekend, the Mid-American Conference will have zero teams with winning records halfway through the season.
That’s pretty bad!
This week’s power rankings weren’t any easier than ones that I’ve had to do in years before. Every team feels like they’re ranked too high on the list, and there’s never going to be a perfect science to this.
As always, I try my best to use a come-as-you-are approach to ranking teams in my power list and give out as few benefits of the doubts as possible. Power rankings are not standings. While the results matter, so do the totality of the box scores over time. Taste buds may vary in trying to find the balance.
Eastern Michigan did beat UMass last weekend, but I still have the team sliding back a spot in this week’s rankings. The whole season speaks for itself, but here’s a simple reason for the move down: it shouldn’t take a 13-0 deficit at home to UMass to turn things around and finish with a win.
#1 Toledo (3-2, 1-0 MAC): Toledo beat Central Michigan 38-17 on Saturday after a 28-point second quarter gave the Rockets a chance to take the air out of the ball in the second half. The Rockets have a stable and healthy quarterback in Dequan Finn who makes plays through the air and on the ground, and they also field a very good defense right now. It held Lew Nichols of all people to 32 rushing yards on 18 carries. The longest rush he had in the game was six yards!
#2 Ball State (2-3, 1-1 MAC): The Cardinals might’ve just pulled off the most convincing comeback win of the MAC season to take back the Bronze Stalk Trophy. Down 24-7 at the half, Ball State brought the game to overtime at 38-all through regulation, then shut the door on the Huskies. Ball State’s entering the MAC season in stride with its improvements on offense.
#3 Northern Illinois (1-4, 0-1 MAC): NIU just lost to Ball State when it probably shouldn’t have. Even with Rocky Lombardi out, the offense is still playing fine on the whole but is pretty inconsistent in the second half. All of NIU’s games have been decided by 3-10 points this year. We’ll find out a lot about NIU this weekend against Toledo, but I’m still led to believe that we’re seeing an actually-still-OK version of a 1-4 Huskies team.
#4 Buffalo (2-3, 2-0 MAC): After laying 50 on the road at Eastern Michigan, Buffalo followed up by taking down Miami in an important divisional game. Even when the run game didn’t work like UB had hoped for, it built a 13-play TD drive (that would’ve ended in a field goal to send this game to OT had it not been for a Miami off-side penalty) to win the game. The Bulls defense gets a lot of credit for the win too (10 tackles for loss, aside from the 73-yarder it held Aveon Smith to 69 rush yards on 11 carries, picked him off once too).
#5 Kent State (2-3, 1-0 MAC): Kent State put up 736 yards of offense last week and became the first team to field a 240+ yard receiver and 240+ yard rusher in the same game. But why did Kent State need overtime to beat Ohio? Sure, nine penalties and two turnovers. But 24 points through 60 minutes doesn’t seem right here.
#6 Miami (2-3, 0-1 MAC): Not giving Miami (or anybody) a benefit of the doubt for not having its starting QB in yet. We can assume the team will be better once he gets back, but Miami probably still shouldn’t have lost to Buffalo. The defense is playing fine, but hopefully it reaches another level as it plays through its conference schedule.
#7 Central Michigan (1-4, 0-1 MAC): CMU just hasn’t looked right all season long. I want to still like its on-field talent, but if this team can’t get Lew Nichols past the line of scrimmage, how are the Chippewas going to get establish its identity on offense? No matter how many times it tries to throw itself ahead of the chains, the team’s success has to filter through Nichols’ production. CMU’s holding a -7 on the turnover margin this season.
#8 Western Michigan (2-3, 1-0 MAC): WMU’s breaking even on its turnover margin for the year (9-9) and the defense is in a pretty decent point right now. The offense is truly anchoring this team, but there’s enough talent at the right spots that might eventually help this team forget that it started with a 1-3 record.
#9 Eastern Michigan (3-2, 0-1 MAC): EMU won last week, but it’s not exactly showing that it’s improved with a 20-13 win over UMass. No matter how much respect goes towards a Don Brown-led team, EMU really needed to be down 13-0 before it came back for the win.
#10 Bowling Green (2-3, 1-0 MAC): To BG’s credit, the team is +6 on the turnover margin this year, which is the MAC’s best figure, and had a solid win over Akron. BG’s at least playing teams somewhat close this year, but I don’t know how if I’m supposed to think this team is improving or peaking right now.
#11 Ohio (2-3, 0-1 MAC): Ohio’s got inconsistency issues like everybody else, but it’s remained too consistent in these heart-attack games. Kent State was a nail-biting loser, FAU was a nail-biter, and the Fordham game was just too close for comfort. Kurtis Rourke’s having a pretty good year, but I don’t know how much support he’ll have in the second-half of the season.
#12 Akron (1-4, 0-1 MAC): Without a reliable answer at kicker, Akron has to be a team that scores touchdowns, and the Zips only recently started doing that against FBS teams. Maybe the Zips will get out of the basement, but it’s a long climb up for the program.