If there was ever a league that demanded more parity out of its teams, it’s the Mid-American Conference. If there was ever a rivalry that demanded a change, it’s the Battle of I-75. And if there was ever a time for Bowling Green to pull off the perfect upset, it was when we least expected it.
Rivalries matter. Or at least they should. Scot Loeffler made it very clear on the first practice he had with his team that when Toledo’s on the clock, everything is full-speed. A drill was created where the coaches yell out “Toledo!”, then the Rockets’ fight song is played over the speakers, players sprint to the 50 and go offense vs. defense for a play and the loser does 25 up-downs. Loeffler’s demanded his players get up for the most important game on the schedule every year because that’s what matters most in college football.
Sure, teams want to win rings. Sure, winning titles and winning rivalry games in the same season don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but the joy after winning these games just don’t compare.
“To be honest with you, we won the MAC in 2015. This moment today — it blows it out of the water,” said (Nico) Lautanen, a redshirt senior. “It’s been a long five years for this.” (via The Toledo Blade)
It’s not just Bowling Green, either. Ball State snapped a 10-year streak of losing to NIU in Week 6. Kent State just beat Akron for the first time since 2014, and did so at Akron. There’s a lot of moving around within the MAC, and there’s still a lot of season left.
Still some more rivalry games (Miami-NIU, EMU-WMU) and must-haves to be had (Ohio-Kent), and unlike other years (and maybe this is speaking from hindsight), this feels like it’s been the most impossible to predict. Seriously, Toledo was favored by four touchdowns and lost by two of them.
This week’s power rankings is a mess. That’s it. Just a mess.
MAC Prospectus Power Rankings (thru Week 7)
1. WMU (last week: 2)
2. Ball State (4)
4. Toledo (1)
5. NIU (9)
7. Kent State (10)
8. Miami (7)
9. BGSU (11)
10. EMU (6)
11. Buffalo (8)
Like I said, this will all figure itself out in the coming weeks. This list doesn’t totally reflect the way I things will totally shake out, but it’s about as close as I can get to balancing this list between the projections in my brain vs. the season we’ve seen so far.
WMU’s the new No. 1 after sitting in No. 2 last week and beating Miami while Toledo lost the way that it did. Ball State this week is the new No. 2. Caleb Huntley’s running the ball really well, the wide receivers are making explosive plays, and this team has learned how to win. Sure, its two MAC wins are against NIU and EMU who aren’t as good as most previously assumed they’d be at this point, but the Cardinals 2-0, and they’re wearing it well.
I still think Toledo and Ohio have good chances to get to Detroit, but right now it’s not them who have had the better seasons in their respective divisions. Those two will have a lot to prove this weekend with the Rockets going to Muncie for a must-win game against Ball State, and Ohio having Kent State at home. Neither of these game are going to be easy wins for anybody, and the updated MAC standings might be eye candy afterwards.