The general consensus was that Buffalo should be higher … and now it is. People were clamoring that Ohio was too low in eighth … and it is no longer eighth. The word I got was that Western Michigan had rowed its way to a much higher … oh, wait. That’s not true at all.
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 now a mid-season estimation, based primarily on the first half of this season.
And before we get started, I must admit one thing: Your words may eventually be proven correct, people, but I’m not sure I believe them just yet. In fact, with the teams I still “doubt,” I will explain my doubts.
So without further ado, 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 (8-0, 4-0) (LW #1): The Huskies haven’t given us any reason to doubt this ranking, and I don’t expect there will be any doubt they belong at the top after this Saturday’s game at UMass. The doubters -- if there are any -- will get their chance to speak or shut up on Wednesday, Nov. 13 against Ball State or Wednesday, Nov. 20 at Toledo. Last Week: Beat Eastern Michigan, 59-20. This Week: At UMass.
2. BALL STATE (8-1, 5-0) (LW #2): The Cards have this week off before hosting Central Michigan next Wednesday, Nov. 6. Anyone worried that giving CMU two weeks to prepare will help them spring the upset? I must admit: Me neither, unless all that time off allows the Chips to get healthy. The game to circle on your calendar is at Northern Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 13; if BSU wins that game (and beats CMU), give ‘em the West title, since only woeful Miami will remain on the schedule. Last Week: Beat Akron, 42-24. This Week: Home v. Central Michigan (Wednesday, Nov. 6).
3. TOLEDO (5-3, 3-1) (LW #3): The Rockets found a way to win for the second week in a row, driving in the waning moments to knock off Bowling Green on the road. Good win for UT; further, it was impressive to see the Rockets running game not skip a beat even when David Fluellen was injured. UT has the equivalent of a bye this week as Eastern Michigan comes to town, giving the Rockets some time to prepare for an interesting home game against Buffalo on Tuesday, Nov. 12. And NIU still looms on Nov. 20. Last Week: Beat Bowling Green, 28-25. This Week: Home v. Eastern Michigan.
4. BUFFALO (6-2, 4-0) (LW #5): You wanted the Bulls higher, and now you’ve got it. Let me repeat last week: I think UB is a very good team, but I don’t think they have proved that just yet. The Bulls have five wins against FBS teams, and those teams have a combined 5-36 record (and .122 “winning” percentage). UB will get its chance to prove how good it is when it hosts Ohio Tuesday, Nov. 5. The Bulls then are at Toledo Tuesday, Nov. 12 and also host Bowling Green to end the season Friday, Nov. 29. Miami is the only cupcake left on the schedule. Last Week: Beat Kent State, 41-21. This Week: Home v. Ohio (Tuesday, Nov. 5).
5. OHIO (6-2, 3-1) (LW #8): Again, the people have spoken. As I look at the Bobcats eight games this season, seven of them actually point to OU belonging HIGHER STILL in this poll. Ah, but that one loss … How do you explain to the team that is ranked two spots below in the poll how it is ranked lower -- even though the Chips won head-to-head. In Athens, no less? Does that game just not count? I wish I could have waited to do this until AFTER next Tuesday’s game against Buffalo. If OU wins that contest, I would have been happy to rank them even higher. Last Week: Beat Miami, 41-16. This Week: At Buffalo (Tuesday, Nov. 5).
6. BOWLING GREEN (5-3, 3-1) (LW #4): The loss to Toledo was a disappointment, especially since the Falcons can point to their own mistakes as a major reason for the loss. Why is OU in front of BG? Measuring their wins head-to-head with Ohio, the simple answer is that Ohio has been more impressive. The good news for BG is that there are two East Division tests on the horizon that allow them to claim the division title: Ohio invades the Doyt Tuesday, Nov. 12 and the regular-season ends at Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Black Friday. Last Week: Lost to Toledo, 28-25. This Week: At Miami (Tuesday, Nov. 5).
7. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (3-5, 2-2) (LW #7): Don’t blame me, Chippewa fans: I’m bowing to the weight of public pressure. I’ve been asked to ignore the head-to-head win over Ohio (on the road, no less). Making things worse is the LONG wait between games, with CMU not playing again until traveling to Muncie to face Ball State on Wednesday, Nov. 6 (18 days between games). The good news is that, after that game, creampuffs fill the schedule with games against Western Michigan, UMass and Eastern Michigan. Last Week: Idle. This Week: At Ball State (Wednesday, Nov. 6).
8. KENT STATE (2-7, 1-4) (LW #6): A disappointing season took another turn for the worse last Saturday when Buffalo mauled the Golden Flashes on KSU’s home field. Injuries have played a major role in a losing season, but Kent State better not be feeling sorry for itself. What may have looked to be a breather on the schedule before the season began suddenly has become a grudge match against arch-rival Akron -- and this is a game the Zips can win. Last Week: Lost to Buffalo, 41-21. This Week: At Akron.
9. AKRON (2-7, 1-4) (LW #9): It will be interesting to see how the Zips fare this Saturday when they host arch-rival Kent State in a game that could really get their season rolling in a positive direction. Two wins are nice, but some of the well-played losses give a better indication of where this program is trending. There also is a winnable game at UMass on the horizon (Saturday, Nov. 16). Last Week: Lost to Ball State, 42-24. This Week: Home v. Kent State.
10. WESTERN MICHIGAN (1-8, 1-4) (LW #11): Well, the Broncos finally got the boat rowing in the right direction, although a one-point win over UMass is hardly a resounding victory (it did come on the road, though, so the victory shouldn’t be completely discarded). WMU will take the week off, then prepare for another winnable game, although it too is on the road at Eastern Michigan. The following Saturday Central Michigan comes to Waldo to mark a third straight winnable game for WMU. Last Week: Beat UMass, 31-30. This Week: Idle.
11. MASSACHUSETTS (1-7, 1-3) (LW #10): Saturday’s one-point loss was a bitter pill for the Minutemen to swallow, as the game came down to a missed two-point conversion in the final moments. Worse, the game included at least one make-able field goal that was missed. Want more bad news: the next opponent for UMass is Northern Illinois. Gulp. Last Week: Lost to Western Michigan, 31-30. This Week: Home v. Northern Illinois.
12. EASTERN MICHIGAN (1-7, 0-4) (LW #12): Listen, I’m not about to tell you that the Eagles are a good team, because they are not. But this season? Whew. There’s no wonder why EMU is 0-4 in MAC play: The four league teams that have beaten them are Ball State, Buffalo, Ohio and Northern Illinois, a group that current is a combined 16-1 in league play. And this week? Toledo, which is 3-1. As I wrote last week, a winnable home game against Western Michigan on Nov. 9 can’t come soon enough for this squad. Last Week: Lost to Northern Illinois, 59-20. This Week: At Toledo.
13. MIAMI (0-8, 0-4) (LW #13): The good news? Only four more games left in this record-breaking season. The bad news? The four games are against Bowling Green, Kent State, Buffalo and Ball State. The RedHawks last, best chance for a win likely comes at KSU Wednesday, Nov. 13. The worse news? If Miami doesn’t claim a win in its final four games, it will be the first winless season since 1988, and that team went 0-10-1. The last Miami team that lost all of its games in a season? The 1900 team that went 0-2. Ouch. Last Week: Lost to Ohio, 41-16. This Week: Home v. Bowling Green (Tuesday, Nov. 5).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!