Oh, I sure thought about scrambling some things up. Ball State claimed an eye-opening win that could have lifted them up in the standings. Do I have Buffalo and Kent State in the right spots? And there’s plenty of shuffling always available at the bottom of the rankings.
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 what moves I thought about making … and why I didn’t make them.
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 (5-0, 1-0) (LW #1): Yes, I promised to talk about why I considered moving teams in the standings. But I didn’t say I thought about moving EVERY team in the standings. I sure didn’t think about moving this one. I say it every week, so I’ll say it again: I will NOT move this team until someone beats them. Last Week: Won at Kent State, 38-24. This Week: Home v. Akron.
2. OHIO (4-1, 0-0) (LW #2): Believe it or not, I did consider moving the Bobcats down in the standings. That’s right, DOWN. Even though they crushed Akron by 40 points on the road. Reason? It wasn’t an indictment of OU, it was a compliment to Ball State. The Bobcats retain the second spot because of the convincing nature of last Saturday’s win, as well as a win over a North Texas team that Ball State lost to. Friendly warning: This still could change. Last Week: Won at Akron, 43-3. This Week: Home v. Central Michigan.
3. BALL STATE (5-1, 2-0) (LW #3): I thought long and hard about moving the Cardinals up in the rankings. Here’s why I did not pull the trigger: It’s a good win, but it’s not a great win. Virginia is 2-3, and by season’s end they’re going to have more losses than wins. Also, the nature of the game was that the Cavaliers gave away the win as much as the Cardinals won it: Virginia committed 13 penalties, including two that took away touchdowns, and committed four turnovers. BSU may be moving up soon, but not yet. Last Week: Won at Virginia, 48-27. This Week: Home v. Kent State.
4. TOLEDO (3-3, 2-1) (LW #4): I must admit that, at this point, I think the Rockets are where they should be. They have lost to Ball State, they should not be penalized for their other two losses, and their two wins were solid thrashings of teams they should thrash. But let me make a prediction one week early: I think the bye week will come in VERY handy as UT prepares for Navy next week. Last Week: Beat Western Michigan, 47-20. This Week: Idle.
5. BOWLING GREEN (5-1, 3-0) (LW #5): Yes, I thought about moving the Falcons up … but not for the reason you might think. BG has won three in a row, but the last two victories (Akron and UMass) have come despite slow starts, and the results were less-than-convincing wins over teams they needed to thrash. Actually, the biggest feather in the Falcons’ cap last week was the way Indiana handled Penn State. Perhaps the Hoosiers aren’t as bad as I suspected. Last Week: Beat UMass, 28-7. This Week: At Mississippi State.
6. KENT STATE (2-4, 1-2) (LW #6): True, I thought about moving the Golden Flashes down in the rankings. The reason I did not make the move is because KSU stayed closer to Northern Illinois than Purdue did one week earlier. It would be hard to push the Flashes down if they lose at Ball State next week – that’s a tough opponent – but at some point Kent State has to start collecting victories over opponents of substance. Last Week: Lost to Northern Illinois, 38-24. This Week: At Ball State.
7. BUFFALO (3-2, 1-0) (LW #7): I know the wailing and gnashing of teeth will be loudest on the eastern shores of Lake Erie after the Bulls swamped Eastern Michigan last week. And yes, I thought about putting UB above Kent State. Here’s why I did not pull the trigger: First, needing five overtimes to beat Stony Brook still lingers, and second, this is a win over Eastern Michigan. This is a team the Bulls should pound, not a team that should get bonus points for the pounding. Last Week: Beat Eastern Michigan, 42-14. This Week: At Western Michigan.
8. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (2-4, 1-1) (LW #8): Again, this is where the line is drawn between this group of teams, which I believe won’t be eligible for a bowl, and the seven above it, all of which I think will take a shot at a bowl. But let’s give the Chippewas credit for doing what they were expected to do by winning at Miami. They weren’t going to go up in the poll, but there was no reason to push them down, either. Last Week: Won at Miami, 21-9. This Week: At Ohio.
9. AKRON (1-5, 0-2) (LW #9): Yes, I was the guy who predicted wins for the Zips this season. To my credit, I also did write, “They may not win this week against Ohio,” because they sure didn’t come close to that, did they? And far be it from me to predict a win at Northern Illinois … because I won’t. I thought about moving them down the ladder … but who would you lift above Akron? Last Week: Lost to Ohio, 43-3. This Week: At Northern Illinois.
10. MIAMI (0-5, 0-1) (LW #10): The RedHawks pulled the trigger and fired coach Don Treadwell after a home loss to Central Michigan. Here’s a question I think is worthy of debate: Was it the right time to make that move? The next two weeks show UMass and Akron on the schedule, meaning Miami has its two best chances for victory coming in the next two weeks. Are the RedHawks chances for victory enhanced or diminished by the move? Last Week: Lost to Central Michigan, 21-9. This Week: At UMass.
11. WESTERN MICHIGAN (0-6, 0-2) (LW #11): I think I have all the “Row the Boat” jokes out of my system. … No wait: Is the boat WMU is rowing the Titanic? Or is it the S.S. Minnow? Does P.J. Fleck wear a headset or a Gilligan hat on the sidelines? And I’m told that one of the Broncos new game day traditions is to shout, “Man Overboard!” when the other team scores a touchdown. … Whew. I’m better now, thanks. Last Week: Lost at Toledo, 47-20. This Week: Home v. Buffalo.
12. EASTERN MICHIGAN (1-4, 0-2) (LW #12): It’s not a good sign when the Eagles “easy” game in the coming weeks is this week at Army, because the weeks that follow bring games against Northern Illinois and Toledo. Army won’t be easy, despite the 2-4 record; the Cadets already have beaten Louisiana Tech, although the margin both teams lost to Ball State is similar (the Cards beat Army 40-14 at home and then won at EMU 51-20 two weeks later). Last Week: Lost at Buffalo, 42-14. This Week: At Army.
13. MASSACHUSETTS (0-5, 0-1) (LW #13): And yes, this was another team I didn’t give any thoughts to moving. Bowling Green gave the Minutemen an opportunity early with the Falcons’ offensive struggles, but UMass seemed disinclined to take advantage of it. But UMass will have some opportunities for wins in the coming weeks, starting with this Saturday’s home game against a reeling Miami program. Then Western Michigan visits in two weeks, and a chance to beat Akron for a second straight season appears on the schedule Nov. 16. Last Week: Lost at Bowling Green, 28-7. This Week: Home v. Miami.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!