Ironically, the overall leader, Toledo came dangerously close to getting bumped off last week. Let’s take a look at where they all settled this time around.
1. TOLEDO (5-3, 4-0 MAC)
To quote my advise on Toledo in last week’s power rankings – “ A word of caution, however: BEWARE! This week’s opponent – UMass – is a much-improved team that is especially hot on offense.”
It’s not that UT ignored that advice in its 42-35 victory. In fact, I believe the Rockets were very aware of UMass’ capabilities. The Minutemen are just that good on offense, and Toledo isn’t exactly a shut-down defense, is it? (10th, MAC). Toledo gets a little extra rest this week, as its next outing is Tuesday, Nov. 4 against the offensively-challenged Kent State Golden Flashes (last in scoring offense).
2. WESTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 3-1 MAC)
The Broncos rolled up 530 yards of offense while picking up their third straight win Saturday, doubling up Ohio by a 42-21 count. Freshman Jarvion Franklin had another big outing with 156 yards with three TDs on 35 carries. However, WMU also flexed its passing muscle with QB Zach Terrell completing 22 of 28 for 344 yards and two TDs. Other than the fact that it will be chilly Saturday in Oxford, both players should feel good about facing a Miami defense that has struggled when not playing Kent State.
3. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (6-2, 3-1 MAC)
The Huskies posted another win Saturday, but it didn’t come easy. Led by quarterback Reginald Bell Jr. (166 rushing yards), EMU took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Northern, however, answered back with a pair of touchdowns to pull out the road victory. NIU meets Ball State Wed., Nov. 5 in Muncie.
4. BOWLING GREEN (5-3, 3-1 MAC)
The Falcons fall one spot this week after a 26-14 home loss to Western Michigan. Two BG turnovers didn’t help matters. WMU, which converted 9 of 18 third downs and both forth down conversion chances, almost doubled the home team in time of possession. The setback makes BG’s Nov. 4 trip to Akron (2-2 MAC) even more important (in case there is a tie-breaker in the East).
5. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (5-4, 3-1 MAC)
The Chippewas got back on the winning track by edging Buffalo, 20-14, on the road. Cooper Rush broke a fourth quarter tie with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Titus Davis midway through the period. That capped a gutsy 98-yard drive that took 9:29 off the clock. CMU followed by twice stopping the Bulls on downs to clinch the win. Central begins MAC Michigan Trophy competition Saturday when it goes to Ypsilanti (Eastern Michigan).
6. BALL STATE (3-5, 2-2 MAC)
This is typically the time of year when the Cardinals get things going. With wins over Central Michigan and Akron the last two weeks, there probably aren’t many people relishing a shot at BSU right now. Still, the Cardinals are facing a VERY tough path to the finish line. Northern Illinois, UMass, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green await, with the Huskies up next (8 p.m. ET, Wed., Nov. 5). BSU scored 29 unanswered points in last week’s come-from-behind win over Akron.
7. AKRON (4-4, 2-2 MAC)
Last week’s collapse at Ball State put the Zips on a two-game losing streak. The euphoria of that win at Pitt, followed victories in the first two MAC games, is dwaining. Zips fans are no doubt hoping the defense has regrouped by the time Akron meets a talented Bowling Green offense on Tuesday, Nov. 4 (8 p.m. in Akron).
8. OHIO (4-5, 2-3 MAC)
The Bobcats fell for the third time in four weeks as they try to navigate through a tough portion of the schedule. Western Michigan’s balanced offense was just too much for the ‘Cats, who surrendered 530 total yards to the Broncos. Ohio had just 88 yards rushing, although quarterback Darrius Vick did complete 18 of 31 for 246 yards with one TD and one INT.
9. UMASS (2-7, 2-3 MAC)
Sometimes you want to pinch yourself, just to make sure you are not dreaming. It’s a little like that with UMass. The Minutemen weren’t anything to speak of passing the ball last year. Now, they rank 11th in the NATION!!! That’s right, the Minutemen are averaging 331.2 yards per game. UMass faced arguably the top MAC team last week in Toledo and stayed right with the Rockets. A UT touchdown in the final minute put Toledo finally spelled the difference. No doubt the Minutemen would like to leave the MAC with a winning conference mark. Winning two out of the final three would do that. Ball State (home, Wed., Nov. 12, 8 p.m.), Akron (away) and Buffalo (home) stand in the way.
10. BUFFALO (3-5, 1-3 MAC)
Last week’s 20-14 home loss to Central Michigan extended UB’s losing streak to three games. Are the Bulls in a free fall? Likely not, but it would behoove them to win this week at Ohio. Buffalo had just 38 yards rushing last week. Even with 233 passing yards, the rushing game has to contribute more. The Bulls are ranked fourth in rushing offense (185.1 ypg), but Ohio is ranked fourth in rushing defense – one spot above Central Michigan..
11. MIAMI (2-7, 2-3 MAC)
The RedHawks emerged victorious in last week’s battle with Kent State to avoid the basement. Andrew Hendrix didn’t have his usual success passing the ball, but his 19-yard first half TD run proved pivotal. Also pivotal, was the Miami defensive performance one week after the RedHawks ‘D’ all but disappeared against Northern Illinois. With Western Michigan coming to town, MU needs everyone on board – offense, defense and special teams – for Saturday’s homecoming tilt.
12. EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-6, 1-3 MAC)
The Eagles are at two straight losses and counting. This is a tough stretch for the Eagles. Somehow, they usually come up with a winning performance in the MAC Michigan Trophy series, but it will be quite the trick to pull off this time. It’s Central Michigan at home this Saturday and Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Nov. 15.
13. KENT STATE (0-4, 1-7 MAC)
The Flashes couldn’t score a touchdown against a team that gave up 51 points the previous week! That says a lot right there. It’s the least amount of points for KSU since getting blanked at Ohio State back on Sept. 13. In short, the Flashes were unable to finish in some clutch situations. KSU will need another good defensive performance, along with a better offensive showing, to compete with a potent Toledo contingent when they meet Tuesday, Nov. 4 (8 p.m. ET).