For a few hours last Saturday, it looked like the MAC Reporter Online Power Rankings leader might be headed for a face first fall . Ah ... life at the top!
Make no mistake about it. There are some serious contenders nipping at the heels of the Toledo Rockets. One of them, in fact, is next on the UT schedule as defending MAC champ Northern Illinois visits the Glass Bowl Nov. 3. Of course, Western Michigan remains undefeated in MAC play, as does UT's neighbor, Bowling Green.
Here's the week's rankings:
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This might be the "stat of the week:" Toledo has outscored its opponents 73-0 in the third quarter. Down 28-10 against MAC-winless UMass last week, the Rockets launched their comeback with three third quarter TDs and another another three before UMass could get back on the board again. Of course, no small reason UT trailed so badly early was three turnovers. The lesson: Even the big boys need to watch their turnovers. Fortunately for Toledo, the defense and offense both clicked in for the second half.
2. Bowling Green (6-2, 4-0 MAC, LW 2)
The Falcons continue to impress. Putting up 48 against the Kent State defense is probably more impressive than pitching a shutout at the Flashes. Still, it's another example of BG's defensive improvement this year.
3. Western Michigan (4-3, 3-0 MAC, LW 3)
All things considered, Miami performed pretty well against the Bronco's run Saturday. WMU showed it's balance, however, by getting it done through the passing game. WR Braverman is really a difficult cover coming out of the slot.
4. Northern Illinois (5-3, 3-1 MAC, LW 4)
Drew Hare's passing highlighted the Huskies win over Eastern Michigan one week after the running game led the way against Miami. Looks like both weapons are ready for the upcoming matchup against Toledo.
5. Central Michigan (4-4, 3-1 MAC, LW 5)
Last week's game with Ball State figured to be a real test, and the Chippewas passed. Kicker Brian Eavey, who earned MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week honors, kicked three field goals. All three, including a 47-yarder, were into the wind. It's nice to have that kind of weapon for those close games.
6. Buffalo (4-4, 3-1 MAC, LW 10)
The Bulls take a huge jump up the rankings this week after pummeling Ohio, 41-17. That ended a three-game losing streak, so maybe the big jump is a reach. UB is at Miami Thursday, and the Bulls defense will be looking for more turnovers from a RedHawks offense that is prone to such things. Buffalo generated four turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns against Ohio last week.
7. Ohio (5-3, 2-2 MAC, LW 6)
We’ll give them a little credit for being banged up right now, but that was an ugly loss at Buffalo Saturday. Defense was the Bobcats calling card a while back, but they have yielded 90 points over the last two contests. You better be Bowling Green or Toledo to try that! Speaking of which, the Falcons come to town Nov. 4. Can the ‘Cats regroup – physically and otherwise – to keep BGSU from hanging another 40-something on them?
8. Akron (3-4, 1-2 MAC, LW 7)
Let’s see … The Zips had a bye last week, and every team below them except Buffalo lost.
Buffalo makes a big jump, and since Ohio owns a 14-12 win over Akron from earlier this season, the Zips drop one spot. But …they’ll have their hands full Saturday when they meet Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant. The Chippewas defense held Ball State to three first downs and 79 yards of total offense in the second half of a very tight game last week. QB Cooper Rush (30/38. 316 yds., 2 TDs) was again outstanding for the Chips.
9. Ball State (2-6, 1-3 MAC, LW 8)
The Cardinals flirted with a “W” against Central Michigan last week, eventually falling 23-21. It was Ball State’s fifth straight loss. The Cardinals better bring the “D,” or a whole bunch of “O” with UMass in town Saturday.
10. UMass (1-6, 0-3, LW 11)
How do you move up a spot even though you lose?
You can when you have at least one half of good football against the nation’s No. 20 team (Toledo) and Kent State fails to record a point against MAC East leader Bowling Green.
11. Eastern Michigan (1-7, 0-4, LW 12)
The Eagles have scored at least 20 points in five consecutive contests. Keep in mind this is the first time an EMU offense has accomplished that feat since 2004 (7 games). Senior Darius Jackson deserves considerable credit. He ranks second in the MAC among rushers with 799 yards (99.8 ypg) and is 19th in the nation. His 78 pints is second in the MAC and 25th in all of FBS.
12. Miami (1-7, 0-3, LW 13)
The RedHawks actually had an early lead against Western Michigan last week and played well in defending the run. (Not so much against the pass). Freshman quarterback Billy Bahl did not throw any interceptions and appears to be making progress. The RedHawks will have a little more home cooking down the stretch and should be facing some more manageable matchups. Improvement is the key – especially in pass defense and pass protection/beating blitzes.