Last week’s results have led to some scrambling of spots throughout the rankings. In fact, nine of the 13 league schools find themselves in a different spot after last week. But I’d suggest reading on, because a few teams you might think made a move, well, didn’t.
For those of you new to the rankings, the premise is simple: If the MAC didn’t have divisions, how would the league’s 13 teams be ranked? This is an early season estimation, based in part on the first few weeks of this season as well as a few ideas from last year as well.
This week, with each team’s ranking, I’ll give you some of my thoughts as to why that team moved -- or, in some interesting cases, why a particular team didn’t move, or didn’t move as much as you might think. Spoiler alert: I am leaning very heavily on strength of schedule these days, especially in league play.
OK, then, here is a look at the league’s 13 teams, presented in the order I would rank them at this point in the season. …
1. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (6-0, 2-0) (LW #1): You thought the Huskies would move? Silly you. But I will admit it: I did think about NIU’s spot atop the standings, and it’s not nearly as stable as it was a few weeks ago. For the second straight week the Huskies struggled, and a struggle at home to Akron -- no matter how improved I think the Zips are, and I do think they are improved -- is not a cause of celebration. I must admit that I am looking forward to the Ball State matchup Nov. 13. Last Week: Beat Akron, 27-20. This Week: At Central Michigan.
2. BALL STATE (6-1, 3-0) (LW #3): The Cards move to the second spot largely because of Ohio’s loss to Central Michigan. BSU struggled to beat Kent State, but I think that’s more a testament to the Golden Flashes than an indictment of this team. Believe it or not, but I think the Cards, not the Huskies, are in the driver’s seat for the West Division; outside of the NIU-BSU clash, all Ball State has to do is beat teams it should beat, while NIU still will be tested by Toledo after the Cards and Huskies battle. Last Week: Beat Kent State, 27-24. This Week: At Western Michigan.
3. TOLEDO (3-3, 2-1) (LW #4): Last week I predicted that the bye week will come in VERY handy as UT prepares for Navy, and here’s why: I think the Rockets will upset the Midshipmen. It’s what Toledo seems to do when it faces tough teams at the Glass Bowl. This contest could be a season-defining game for UT, as will its game the following week against its arch-rivals from BG. Last Week: Idle. This Week: Home v. Navy.
4. BOWLING GREEN (5-2, 3-0) (LW #5): I’ve hinted at this since the Falcons lost by a single point to Mississippi State from the SEC, and now I’ll just say it: I think that game was BG’s most impressive game this season, even though it was a loss. Now the Falcons have a bye week before taking on perhaps the toughest part of the season, with a home game against Toledo next week and a home contest against Ohio on Nov. 12. Last Week: Lost at Mississippi State, 21-20. This Week: Idle.
5. KENT STATE (2-5, 1-3) (LW #6): Believe it, MAC fans. The team on a two-game losing streak moved UP in the standings. That’s because for the second week in a row the Golden Flashes gave one of the league’s best teams all it could handle. KSU stood toe-to-toe with NIU two weeks ago, and last week Ball State had to rally to beat the Flashes at home. If you predicted that this team will win the rest of its games this season, well, I wouldn’t argue. I might not agree, but I would not argue. Last Week: Lost at Ball State, 27-24. This Week: At South Alabama.
6. BUFFALO (4-2, 2-0) (LW #7): Hope you were seated for this one. Yes, the Bulls only losses are to Ohio State and Baylor, and clearly there is no shame in either loss. But the four wins? The three FBS teams UB has beaten have a combined 1-17 record (UConn is 0-5, EMU is 1-5, WMU is 0-7), and FCS Stony Brook is a pedestrian 3-3. Notice that I’m not saying the Bulls are no good. I’m saying the teams they have beaten so far are no good. I think we’ll get a better judgment of how good this team is in two weeks when it plays at Kent State. Last Week: Beat Western Michigan, 33-0. This Week: Home v. UMass.
7. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (3-4, 2-1) (LW #8): Hope you were seated for this one, too. Yes, the Chippewas beat the second-ranked team in this poll last week. And yes, they moved up just one spot forward despite it. I’ll be blunt: I don’t see anyone among the six schools above CMU that I think the Chippewas can beat. Having said that, they return home this Saturday with a chance to prove me wrong. REALLY wrong. Last Week: Won at Ohio, 26-23. This Week: Home v. Northern Illinois.
8. OHIO (4-2, 1-1) (LW #2): I do believe I gave a friendly warning to Bobcat fans that their status near the top of the rankings could change. But in no way did I predict OU would drop this far. Having said that, in no way did I predict the Bobcats would lose to Central Michigan. At home. On Homecoming. On a last-season score by the Chippewas. The good news for the Bobcats is that they still control their own destiny in terms of winning the MAC’s East Division. The bad news is that OU can’t afford any more slip-ups if it wishes to win the East. Last Week: Lost v. Central Michigan, 26-23. This Week: At Eastern Michigan.
9. AKRON (1-6, 0-3) (LW #9): Another Saturday, another loss for the Zips. Or was it? Fresh off a blistering administered by Ohio at home, the Zips gave Northern Illinois (last I looked, the best team in the MAC) everything it could handle before losing on the road. Remember where I predicted there were wins on Akron’s schedule down the road? Well, we’ve reached that portion of the road. Last Week: Lost at Northern Illinois, 27-20. This Week: At Miami.
10. MASSACHUSETTS (1-5, 1-1) (LW #13): I’ll admit, this might be a bit of an overreaction to Saturday’s home win over a reeling Miami program. But the Minutemen will have a chance to prove me right in two weeks when Western Michigan comes to visit. And there’s a chance to rise even higher when Akron appears on the schedule Nov. 16. For now, enjoy escaping the basement, UMass. Last Week: Beat Miami, 17-10. This Week: At Buffalo.
11. WESTERN MICHIGAN (0-7, 0-3) (LW #11): I think we all can agree that Buffalo is better than WMU, so last Saturday’s loss isn’t unexpected. But losing by 33 points? Shouldn’t this team be more competitive than that? Things certainly don’t get any easier when Ball State comes to town Saturday, but there is hope on the horizon with potentially winnable games left against UMass, EMU and CMU. But at this point, how confident are you that the Broncos will win them? Last Week: Lost to Buffalo, 33-0. This Week: Home v. Ball State.
12. EASTERN MICHIGAN (1-5, 0-2) (LW #12): After getting punched in the gut by Army, the next three weeks bring the Eagles games against Ohio, Northern Illinois and Toledo. Sounds like three more punches to the gut for me. The home game against Western Michigan on Nov. 9 can’t come soon enough for this squad. Last Week: Lost at Army, 50-25. This Week: Home v. Ohio.
13. MIAMI (0-6, 0-2) (LW #10): The RedHawks firing of coach Don Treadwell before the game at UMass certainly didn’t help this team avoid a winless season. Beating Akron at home seems almost imperative if Miami wants to claim at least one victory. Why? The rest of the schedule features games against Ohio, Bowling Green, Kent State, Buffalo and Ball State. See any RedHawks wins there? Me neither. Last Week: Lost at UMass, 17-10. This Week: Home v. Akron.Agree? Disagree? Want to add to the discussion? Use the "Post a Comment" area below to voice your opinions. Keep it clean, keep it civil, and it will be all good. Join in NOW!