The top dogs in last week’s MRO Power Rankings prevailed, Saturday, but there was some shuffling of the deck after last weekend’s action.
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A 41-0 demolition of Akron couldn’t have hurt as WMU moved up to No. 20 in both the AP and coaches polls. On a given day, the Broncos can wreck havoc with any of several weapons. Last week, it was Jarvion Franklin erupting for a career-high 281 rushing yards. and a TD against Akron.
2. TOLEDO ROCKETS (5-1, 2-0 MAC)
Throw out the records and all that stuff … the battle for the I-75 Trophy was once again a highly-contested affair. Kareem Hunt’s 3-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left finally decided the outcome in a 42-35 Rockets win. CentralMichigan is up this week in the middle game of a three game home stand at the Glass Bowl.
3. CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAAS (5-2, 2-1)
The Chips simply couldn’t shake hosting Northern Illinois, who thrice came back from a seven-point deficit to tie Saturday’s game in regulation. CMU finally scored the only points in the third overtime to pull out a 34-28 win. The challenge will be big again this week as Central goes to Toledo.
4. EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES (5-2, 2-1 MAC)
Yes, it’s true. Fresh off a win over Ohio in Athens, the Eagles have soared into our No. 4 position. It was EMU’s third consecutive road win – something Eastern has not accomplished since 1967. I’m thinking that if they get a fourth consecutive road win, they’ll move even higher on the MRO Power Rankings. Of course, they are playing in Kalamazoo against nationally ranked (No. 20) Western Michigan. So far, nobody has out-rowed that bunch.
5. BALL STATE CARDINALS (4-3, 1-2 MAC)
The Cardinals do well with what the Bulls do poorly, and the result was a 31-21 win by Ball State. The Cardinals are second in rushing offense, while UB is last in defending the run. James Gilbert picked up 264 yards and scored two TDs for Ball State in the victory. The Cardinals host Akron (no doubt stinging from that Broncos mashing) Saturday.
Ohio leads the MAC in rushing defense. Pass defense?? Not so much, as the ‘Cats are eighth in pass defense efficiency. Eastern Michigan took the high road Saturday – in Athens -- as Brogan Roback completed 29 of 39 for 347 yards with three TDs. Ohio, which visits Kent State Saturday, drops two spots in the MRO Power Rankings this week.
7. AKRON ZIPS (4-3, 2-1 MAC)
The Zips also drop two spots, but a 41-0 loss isn’t exactly going to play in your favor. It wasn’t some bad luck. Akron was dominated at home. The Zips will try to rebound Saturday at Ball State.
8. NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (1-6, 1-2 MAC)
The Huskies continue to be a “tough out,” as baseball playoff announcers might say. Last week, they took Central Michigan to three overtimes before falling, 34-28. Northern has Buffalo Saturday and Bowling Green at home after that before a big matchup against Toledo.
9. BOWLING GREEN FALCONS (1-6, 0-3 MAC)
The Falcons aren’t losing by bad scores (e.g. 41-0) in MAC competition, they’re just losing. The margins have been 3, 6 and 7 points. They were tied with rival Toledo last week until Kareem Hunt scores with 18 seconds left. It will be a battle-royal this week when Miami comes to town. Both teams are hungry for wins and momentum in the second half.
10. MIAMI REDHAWKS (1-6, 1-2 MAC)
The RedHawks finally got that elusive first victory thanks to a 55-yard touchdown run by Kenny Young in the final minutes. There was also a laudable effort by the MU defense, which managed to keep Kent State’s Nick Holley under 90-yards rushing. Oh, yeah … there was also the surprise start by quarterback Gus Ragland. Many doubted Ragland could make it back after a serious knee injury in the spring. It looked a little rusty at times, but also brought more mobility to the position. Meanwhile, Billy Bahl should be getting better, giving head coach Chuck Martin some options down the stretch.
11. KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (2-5, 1-2 MAC)
Nick Holley and the Flashes (Sounds like a band name, doesn’t it?) came close to posting another victory last week. Miami’s late touchdown, however, carried the day. KSU hosts Ohio this week. The Flashes will need to get Holley loose again after he gained just 84 yards rushing against the RedHawks. He had 224 yards the previous week. It won’t be easy, given that Ohio leads the MAC in rushing defense.
12, BUFFALO BULLS (4-3, 1-2 MAC)
The Bulls had a +3 turnover advantage Saturday and still lost to Ball State, 31-21, at home. On the plus side, Tyree Jackson completed 28 of 46 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. UB will travel to DeKalb this week to face Huskies team that is playing better than its record might suggest.