With five MAC teams on bye, I wasn’t sure how I’d react/overreact to what Week 5 had in store for the seven teams that were in action. Of the six teams that moved at all since last week, Miami’s position on my power rankings was the only one to move by more than one position: up from 10 to 7.
Buffalo started out with a 14-3 lead after last year’s MAC Freshman of the Year Jaret Patterson took off for an 82-yard touchdown run, giving him over 100 yards just midway through the second quarter. Remembering that it didn’t take strong quarterback play, but a great game out of its running backs (with just enough defense) is how the Bulls took down Temple, it seemed like Buffalo would hold on from this point on, but that just wouldn’t be the case. The RedHawks responded with 31 points in the second and third quarters, tilting the score back MU’s way 34-14 until UB’s Kevin Marks scored early in the fourth quarter to at least give the Bulls a touchdown to show for in the second half.
The defense is what strongarmed Miami to victory over the Bulls. The RedHawks were versatile, physical, and knocked Matt Myers out of the game in the third quarter, but not before two forced interceptions to linebacker Mike Brown out of him.
Miami’s offense is still very young, and it only took Brett Gabbert to throw eight completions (17 attempts) for this team to get to 31 points, and freshman running back Jaylon Bester did have 107 yards and one touchdown on the day. If Miami’s defense doesn’t get the stops it had against Buffalo in its future contests, I wonder how far the offense can take this team. But Miami’s defense can bang, and there aren’t enough defenses in this league that can hit like that.
MAC Prospectus Power Rankings (thru Week 5)
- NIU (last week: 5)
- Ohio (last week: 4)
- Ball State
- Miami (last week: 10)
- Buffalo (last week: 7)
- Kent State (last week: 8)
- CMU (last week: 9)
1. Toledo (3-1)
Last week: W 28-21 vs. BYU
Toledo’s a really fun watch these days. It’s not the best version of Toledo we’ve seen, but it’s got a dynamic rushing attack with a defense that came away with just enough turnovers against BYU to edge out an important home win.
The Rocket offense is 10th nationally in rushing yards per game with an average of 262.25, and is tied for 11th nationally in yards per carry at 5.96. Not sure how long this will keep up, but it’s hard to imagine this offense slowing down any time soon, especially with how fragile the defenses in the MAC West look.
2. Western Michigan (3-2, 1-0 MAC)
Last week: W 31-15 vs. CMU
WMU’s got an offense worth being happy over. It’s far from perfect, but it’s really impressive to lose three starting wide receivers over the course of a calendar year, put new guys in that may or may not have college experience at all, and still have that position group be one of the biggest strengths of the team.
|Giovanni Ricci (TE)||23||320||5|
|Keith Mixon Jr.||13||164||0|
The Broncos can gas a lot of people when the offense is clicking, and more players will have to step on defense moving forward against better teams than CMU. For example, Patrick Lupro came away with a really difficult interception in his first career start.
3. Eastern Michigan (3-1)
Last week: bye
4. Northern Illinois (1-3)
Last week: L 24-18 at Vanderbilt
NIU leapfrogged Ohio from five to four because at least NIU played a Power 5 team to a one-score game. Just 18 points after a bye week though, that’s pretty tough to swallow — new coaching staff or not. It’s growing pains and I think there’s still plenty of juice to come from this Huskie offense, and at the rate that this team is experiencing injuries, they’re going to need to catch up fast.
5. Ohio (1-3)
Last week: bye
6. Ball State (1-3)
Last week: bye
7. Miami (2-3, 1-0 MAC)
Last week: W 34-20 vs. Buffalo
If there’s anything Saturday taught me, it’s that Miami could still very well win the MAC East.
My experience in following the MAC has taught me another thing, it’s that Miami could still very well not win the MAC East.
But right now Miami’s 1-0 in MAC play, and only a win over Ohio (not for another month) before it essentially runs away with the division.
8. Buffalo (2-3, 0-1 MAC)
Last week: L 34-20 at Miami
Buffalo’s rushing attack feels unstoppable, but how much of that will matter the rest of the way if this team isn’t going to get more out of its quarterback? Myers is averaging 5.7 yards per pass attempt, last place among MAC starters. Buffalo’s defense is leading the MAC at 5.11 yards per play allowed, too.
9. Kent State (2-2, 1-0 MAC)
Last week: bye
10. Central Michigan (2-3, 1-1 MAC)
Last week: L 31-15 at WMU
Biggest surprise out of CMU: Jonathan Ward’s back. On 19 carries, Ward had his second 100-yard game of the season (107), with the other coming against Albany from the FCS. Focusing on FBS play only, this was Ward’s first 100-yard game since he picked up 159 in the 2017 regular season against Northern Illinois. He now has six 100-yard games for his career. There wasn’t any indication that Ward would be recovered from an injured shoulder suffered in the Wisconsin game to be able to play against the Broncos, so to see him in the game and actually playing football (read: not a decoy), is impressive.
Still, Ward’s back playing well, Memphis transfer QB David Moore’s playing pretty well so far (56.4% passing, 864 yards, 6.2 Y/A, 3 TD, 3 INT, 111.1 QBR) but moving the ball a little bit isn’t the same as putting points on the board (didn’t score against WMU until the fourth quarter).
11. Bowling Green (1-3, 0-1 MAC)
Last week: bye
12. Akron (0-5, 0-1 MAC)
Last week: L 37-29 at UMass
Q: When was the last time Akron had a winless season?
A: 1942, when the team went 0-7-2 as an independent, Division-II school.