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Y11 Notes: Power Rankings Update, Miami?
EMU slips hard, the numbers might say the team should be lower on my list.
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Y11 Notes: Tuesday, Sept. 27
MAC FOOTBALL POWER RANKING: Nobody actually deserves the top spot
While nobody, thankfully, is winless out of the Mid-American Conference, but that doesn’t mean the league’s having a great time this year. Eight teams have 1-3 records, four teams have 2-2 records, and both teams that have Power 5 wins — your Eastern Michigan Eagles (Arizona State) and the Miami RedHawks (Northwestern).
Unfortunately, nobody in the MAC has really proven-proven themselves worthy of the #1 spot in this week’s power rankings. That, naturally, means Toledo’s still the top-ranked team in the league.
But those Rockets are on an 0-2 run on the schedule, and other teams are figuring out how to be on the rise.
Northern Illinois could get there. Miami, which just beat Northwestern, might be a quarterback away from winning out its division. Ball State’s sneaky alright. Kent State had no chance of winning most of its non-conference games, but it’s at least punched-up to its chances. Central Michigan’s had an odd start to the year, but once it gets past its hiccups I think it’ll start to play better.
Most teams, however, have glaring issues.
Eastern Michigan’s letting gaps widen again. Buffalo, which just scored 50 at EMU, still lost to Holy Cross recently. Western Michigan and Akron just haven’t gotten things together offensively. I’m out on Bowling Green, and only sort of out on Ohio too.
#1 Toledo (2-2): Toledo absolutely doesn’t deserve the #1 spot on here after getting spanked by Ohio State and refusing to beat San Diego Sate, but what else are we left with here? We’re only four games into the year and Toledo’s resume isn’t really worse than anybody else’s so far. Toledo still has really great odds to win the MAC West this year and I expect some of this team’s issues to be masked once it goes through the grind of the MAC season, but this team is still going to be very vulnerable over the next two months.
Believe you me, I don’t feel great about how long Toledo’s stayed atop of my power rankings this season.
#2 Northern Illinois (1-3): Losses stink, and injuries still hurt, but keeping things respectable with top-10 Kentucky (31-23) is pretty dang inspiring. Even without Lombardi, NIU currently has the MAC’s highest-rated offensive SP+ (#57 nationally) for it to be the #3 team in the MAC by SP+. The defense just hasn’t been there for NIU in non-conference action. I really appreciate how NIU always seems to know exactly how to create gameplans for every possible moment of a game. This has been evident across multiple seasons.
#3 Central Michigan (1-3): The Oklahoma State loss doesn’t carry a ton of weight with me in these rankings this week (just a little), and I don’t know how much Penn State played with its food vs. Central last week. CMU turned the ball over four times and Penn State scored only seven points off of them (TD, missed field goal, punt, missed field goal). For as many squandered opportunities Penn State had, CMU realistically should’ve put up more points in this game. I think CMU’s capable of playing much better than it has shown this year, but I’m okay with being wrong here.
By SP+, CMU is #2 overall (#88 nationally) in the MAC (third in offensive SP+ and fourth defensively in the MAC).
#4 Ball State (1-3, 0-1 MAC): Ball State’s breaking in a lot of new pieces and is showing some development through the season. By bcftoys.com, Ball State’s offense is #37 nationally in offensive efficiency on long drives (start inside own 20) and #1 in short drives (<60 yards from end zone). On medium-length drives (between own 20 and 40 yard lines), Ball State’s #91. The defense has a long way to go, but the offense has shown some signs of competency.
#5 Miami (2-2): Congrats to Miami for beating Northwestern. Miami still misses its starting quarterback Brett Gabbert and hopefully the offense swings up once he returns. Considering the losses (37-13 at #20 Kentucky, 38-17 vs. Cincinnati) Miami might be able to buy itself some benefit of the doubt with its schedule. The defense is giving me optimism, but I’m shaky on how I’m supposed to feel about the offense with or without Gabbert out there. I want to put Miami higher than #5 on here, but maybe #5 just fits the mood.
#6 Kent State (1-3): I don’t know if the talent’s all there for Kent State and I don’t know how much we should be reading into Kent State’s death row of non-conference games, but playing #1 Georgia to a 39-22 finish is respectable in its own right.
Per Bud Elliott on the Cover 3 podcast: Kent State has also held Oklahoma and Georgia to their lowest game point totals in any game this year.
Some advanced metrics (like SP+) might not show improvement for Kent State’s defense, but the team’s playing at You’ve Gotta Hand It To Them levels.
#7 Buffalo (1-3, 1-0 MAC): When you put up 50 points on the road, you get out of the basement. If Buffalo’s actually turning the corner, then I’m happy to keep the Bulls up here in the middle instead of down in the 11-12 range of this list.
#8 Eastern Michigan (2-2, 0-1 MAC): I believe Eastern’s capable of playing a lot better, but injuries are really starting to become an early-season concern, the offense isn’t playing as efficiently as it should, and the defense has allowed too many long plays and drives to feel comfortable with the situation on that side of the ball. Also, it let Buffalo score 50 points on them at home. When EMU lets games slip away, they slip away hard.
Per CFB-Graphs, EMU has the nation’s worst EPA margin (Expected Points Added) at -3.09 per play.
#9 Western Michigan (1-3, 1-0 MAC): Western’s offense is playing incredibly inefficiently through its first four games. Even though the Broncos did beat Ball State in Week 2, Western just hasn’t shown that it’s capable of putting up 37 points again.
#10 Ohio (2-2): Ohio’s two wins are over Florida Atlantic (SP+ Rank: 89) and FCS-level Fordham. Both games required Ohio to put up 41 and 59 points respectively because the team fields one of the worst defenses in the nation (Def. SP+ Rank: 128).
#11 Bowling Green (1-3): We’re just going to skip talking about Bowling Green today. Sorry, gotta think about word count.
#12 Akron (1-3): After a second-half interception, Akron’s offense only had to drive 48 yards to score its one and only touchdown of the game vs. Liberty last week, an 11-yard pass from DJ Irons to Alex Adams. With none to show for against Michigan State or Tennessee, that was the only touchdown scored vs. FBS opponents this year.