MAC Power Rankings: Week 2
By Jon Coffey
After seeing MAC teams combine to go 5-8 in the first week of the college football season, it’s hard to tell which teams lived up to or outperformed the preseason hype. But with many of those losses coming at the hands of high-caliber opponents, some of the scores look worse than what they indicate about MAC teams.
For instance, Buffalo lost by 20, but the Bulls were playing in Columbus against Ohio State, who started the year ranked No. 2 in the nation. After spotting the Buckeyes 23 points to start the game, Buffalo settled down and outscored their opponent 20-17 through the final three quarters.
Yes, they lost the game, but a performance like that against one of the best teams this year is a positive by my standard.
There were some blatantly obvious winners over the weekend like Northern Illinois and Bowling Green, who both won games against quality opponents, and there were some apparent losers like Miami (OH) that drastically underperformed.
As we look ahead to the second week, Northern Illinois reigns as the No. 1 team in the MAC while some shuffling amongst the rest of the Top 5 pushes Bowling Green to the No. 2 spot.
Ohio fell the most (three positions) after being completely trounced in Louisville on Sunday. Look for them to bounce back against North Texas at home on Saturday.
1 (1) Northern Illinois (1-0)
Last Week: W, 30-27 at Iowa
After losing to Iowa alone during last year’s regular season, the Huskies got their revenge at Kinnick Stadium after a late-game interception and return put NIU in range for the game-winning field goal. Jordan Lynch lived up to his legend in this one as the Huskies saw their No. 1 wide receiver, TommyLee Lewis, leave the game with an injury early in the second half. But Lynch stepped up, completing 25 of 41 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 56 yards on the ground.
2 (5) Bowling Green (1-0)
Last Week: W, 34-7 vs. Tulsa
Bowling Green and Tulsa are two teams considered to be rising to the top of their respected conferences, and this game was thought to reflect that and be fairly close. Apparently no one told the Falcons about that, because Bowling Green dominated this game from kickoff.
3 (4) Ball State (1-0)
Last Week: W, 51-28 vs. Illinois State
Ball State did exactly what they were supposed to do in this one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the Cardinals defense has caught up to the offense yet. Still, it was a good enough performance to move them up a spot from their preseason ranking.
4 (3) Toledo (0-1)
Last Week: L, 24-6 at No. 10 Florida
Against a shorthanded Florida team, I really was expecting more from the MAC West contenders. Losing by 18 in the Swamp isn’t all that horrific, but the Rockets looked a little lost and unorganized at times in a game they could have been in.
5 (2) Ohio (0-1)
Last Week: L, 49-7 at No. 9 Louisville
It’s hard to say much about this one. Louisville is a good team, and Ohio has a long way to go to be close to being on the same level. But even with that disparity, the Bobcats were showed few signs of life. All we can do is wait until next week to see if Ohio can bounce back.
6 (7) Buffalo (0-1)
Last Week: L, 40-20 at No. 2 Ohio State
Maybe the surprise of the week. After going down 23-0 in the first quarter I’m sure most people were thinking 70-plus points for the home team. But the Bulls stayed alive and didn’t stop playing, for which you have to commend them. They were overmatched and outgunned and still managed to play well in a tough environment for three quarters. Props to the Bulls.
7 (6) Kent State (1-0)
Last Week: W, 17-10 vs. Liberty
Liberty isn’t exactly an SEC team, so a seven-point win is nothing to brag about. Kent State did lose Dri Archer, who left the game early with an ankle injury. He’s currently listed as day-to-day according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Even though it wasn’t the start the Golden Flashes community was hoping for, they did get the win and now look forward to a huge meeting with Bowling Green.
8 (8) Western Michigan (0-1)
Last Week: L, 26-13 at Michigan State
This game held maybe the least-surprising outcome of any in the MAC this week. Western put a few points on the board, but got outplayed by the Spartans in East Lansing. The same story could be written about the majority of meetings between these two teams in recent memory. The Broncos get a chance to prove themselves against Nicholls State at home this weekend.
9 (10) Central Michigan (0-1)
Last Week: L, 59-9 at No. 17 Michigan
Let me be clear by stating that Central did nothing to deserve moving up a spot in my Power Rankings. Rather they didn’t do worse than the teams below them and I still believe they are a better team at this point than Eastern.
The Chips failed to get into the end zone at the Big House and were utterly demoralized after losing QB Cody Kater and star RB Zurlon Tipton, who both left the game with broken bones.
Head coach Dan Enos summed it up perfectly: “Not a good start for the Chips.”
It could be a long year for Central Michigan football fans.
10 (11) Eastern Michigan (1-0)
Last Week: W, 34-24 vs. Howard
A 10-point victory over an FCS opponent wasn’t exactly starting the season with a bang for the Eagles. Eastern trailed by 11 before scoring three straight touchdowns to overtake the Bison and get the win. It was a far cry from the Eagles' 41-9 romping of Howard back in 2011, but for a team trying to gain its footing after a two-win season, it was, if nothing else, a step in the right direction.
11 (9) Miami (OH) (0-1)
Last Week: L, 52-14 vs. Marshall
With the game tied at 14 at halftime, no one thought the Redhawks would lose by 38 points. Marshall has a solid team with an up-tempo offense in 2013, but it seemed like Miami never came out of the locker room after the break. It’s been a transitional offseason for the Redhawks, but Austin Boucher and company need to get on track or they could find themselves locked in the basement of the MAC with UMass and Akron for the rest of the year.
12 (12) Massachusetts (0-1)
Last Week: L, 45-0 at No. 23 Wisconsin
As the only team to be shut out in the first week of the season, it might be a surprise to see the Minutemen ranked ahead of anyone. But I gave them the slight edge over Akron due to the quality of their opponent. This game went exactly as planned for Wisconsin, or almost exactly, as the Badgers probably would’ve liked to score 60-plus. But in any case UMass and Akron are battling for the right to not be the worst team in the conference, and after one week it’s still a tight race.
13 (13) Akron (0-1)
Last Week: L, 38-7 at UCF
In a few years the Akron Zips might be embarking on a winning season at this time of the year. That’s about as good as it gets right now if you’re a Zips fan. They might win a couple of games this year, and I hope they do, but there’s not a lot going right for Akron. The only good thing is that it can’t get much worse, so there’s only one way to go.
* (#) indicates previous ranking