The first week of midweek games provided some exciting action. It also provided some movement in our Weekly power rankings. Notable, of course, is the fall of heretofore leader Toledo at the hands of perennial MAC West power Northern Illinois.
The key games continue this week and, although Bowling Green has pretty much wrapped up the east, it could well play a pivotal roll in who takes the West crown. That, in turn, could determine who BG meets in the MAC title game.
Let’s look at this week’s rankings.
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After holding steady at No. 2 for weeks, the Falcons soar into the top spot. With two wins over Big Ten teams, a national leader at quarterback and an improved defense, BG is a worthy leader. Now, can they hold the top spot against a pair of MAC West contenders (Western Michigan and Toledo) desperate for win?
2. WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS (6-3, 5-0 MAC)
The Broncos offense continued to cruise in high gear last week with a 54-7 blasting of Ball State. With Toledo’s loss, WMU now controls its own destiny in the West. Suffice it say, Wednesday’s game against Bowling Green is huge.
3. NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (6-3, 4-1 MAC)
The win over Toledo was quite a statement. The Huskies have their sites set on another MAC title game appearance. Of the top three teams in the West, NIU is the only one which won’t meet Bowling Green down the stretch. Two of the Huskies final three games are against MAC East foes, and it has been a looooooog time since NIU dropped a cross divisional contest. In between, NIU faces Western Michigan in a game that could decide the West title.
4. TOLEDO ROCKETS (7-1, 4-1 MAC)
The Rockets were relatively healthy, playing on home turf and owned a ton of motivation for their key match-up against NIU last week. It didn’t matter. UT now faces a daunting three games against teams with a combined 14-1 MAC record. It the Rockets pull this off, they will certainly have earned a West title.
5. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (5-4, 4-1 MAC)
The Chippewas pulled out a 14-6 win at Akron Saturday. It was their third straight win and fourth in the last five games. Tuesday’s game against a desperate Toledo team should be a real test.
6. BUFFALO BULLS (5-4, 3-2 MAC)
UB isn’t winning big, but it is winning. The 18-17 decision over Kent State last Thursday made it three straight. Making it four in a row will be tough with Northern Illinois in town Wednesday.
7. AKRON ZIPS (4-5, 2-3 MAC)
The Zips last two win have been against teams that are winless in MAC play. They travel to Miami this week, meeting a RedHawks team that picked up its first MAC win last Saturday. Akron’s defense has shined over the last two weeks, allowing 27 total points against Central Michigan and UMass. Miami has struggled offensively, but it has also shown some recent improvement. This could be another low-scoring game, unless turnovers open it up.
8. KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (3-6, 2-3 MAC)
The Flashes came out on the short end of an 18-17 decision against Buffalo last Thursday as the Bulls rallied late. Defense continues to be KSU’s strength, as the Flashes rank second in total defense, TFL and rushing defense. Junior safety Nate Holley is third in the MAC and 14th nationally in tackles per game (10.6). Tuesday’s match-up against Ohio will break a tie between the two teams for third place in the MAC East.
9. OHIO BOBCATS (5-4, 2-3 MAC)
Head coach Frank Solich summed it up this week: “We’re not a consistent football team on either side of the ball. … We’re not the same team we were earlier in the year.”
It’s been a tough three weeks for OU and the Flashes (Tuesday’s foe) have been a challenging outing in recent times.
10. BALL STATE CARDINALS (3-7, 2-4 MAC)
The Cardinals took a pounding (54-7) from Western Michigan Thursday, so a bye week might come in handy as they try to regroup for Ohio Nov. 17.
11. MIAMI REDHAWKS (2-8, 1-5 MAC)
The RedHawks have vacated the Power Rankings basement after defeating Eastern Michigan 28-13 Saturday. MU’s pass defense has tightened up recently and the offense has its moments. Putting up another 28 points (as it did last week) might be a little more difficult against Akron.
12/13 UMASS MINUTEMEN (1-8, 0-5 MAC) and
EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES (1-9, 0-5)
I try not to share spots, but so be it for this week. Both teams are on long losing streaks, have one win and are winless in conference play. Likewise, defense and turnovers can be an issue for both squads. This spot settled Saturday when the two teams meet in Ypsilanti.