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Redshirt freshman, Kurtis Rourke (7), hands the ball off to De’Montre Tuggle (24) during the home game against the Akron Zips. (FILE)

Football: Bobcats fall, Western Michigan rises and Akron stays put in week three MAC power rankings

The Mid-American Conference was tested last week with the cancelation of Ohio vs. Miami, one of the conference’s most storied rivalries. That didn’t, however, stop the MAC from offering an exciting slate of midweek “MAC-tion.” 

From Western Michigan’s rivalry with Central Michigan for the rights to the Victory Canon, to Akron and Kent State’s shootout for the Wagon Wheel, the MAC was not short of premier matchups last week. Some teams moved closer to the MAC championship game while others were eliminated, read to see which teams took the right step. 

Here’s The Post’s week three MAC football power rankings:

Buffalo ( - ) 

The Bulls took care of business last week, trouncing Bowling Green 42-17. A win over an 0-3 Falcons’ team might not be that impressive, but it was how Buffalo dominated on the ground that secured its number one spot this week. 

Jaret Patterson rushed for 301 yards and four touchdowns on Tuesday. To add insult to injury, backup running back Kevin Marks added a touchdown and 90 yards of his own. The Bulls were so unstoppable on the ground against Bowling Green, Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease was a non-factor (7/12 74 yards), and it wasn’t even a problem. 

After starting the season 3-0, Buffalo is halfway to its goal of playing for a MAC title, yet that journey to Detroit could get bumpy against undefeated Kent State. The Bulls were favored to win the MAC this season. Kent State may be a product of a light schedule, either way the two schools’ showdown this Saturday will have major postseason implications. 

Western Michigan ( + 2)

Last week was a big one for the Broncos. It was no question beforehand whether Western Michigan would be a force in the MAC, but a 52-44 win over rival Central Michigan proved that the Broncos are the team to beat in the West division.

Kaleb Eleby went 12-20 passing for a season-high 382 passing yards and five touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore was most recently listed on the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award’s Great 8 List, as he’s currently thrown for 928 yards, 11 touchdowns and has the 5th highest QBR in the country according to ESPN.

Eleby and the Broncos will likely maintain their spot in the rankings as they face winless Northern Illinois at home this Saturday.

Kent State ( - ) 

The Golden Flashes are the most improved team in the MAC East division so far. Kent State’s 69-35 win over Akron last week comes as no surprise, improving to a 3-0 in 2020. This was Kent State’s second straight 60-plus point performance, beating Bowling Green 62-24 the week prior. 

The Golden Flashes have been seeing success through the air. Dustin Krum had another stellar game, passing for 348 yards and three touchdowns. Krum was also the Golden Flashes’ second leading rusher behind Marquez Cooper’s 107 yards and three touchdowns.

Kent State has a lot of upside, and they’ll have to hold onto this momentum riding into this week’s matchup against Buffalo.

Toledo ( + 4) 

After a difficult loss to Western Michigan last week, the Rockets made a strong bounce back with a 45-28 win over Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have been struggling this season, which granted Toledo the chance to recover a win from a frustrating week two.

Bryant Koback rushed for 149 yards against Eastern Michigan, almost matching his rushing yards from his first two games this season. Quarterback Eli Peters also continued his hot streak, throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown. Peters’ passing percentage jumped to an average of 67% after his 11/15 night against the Eagles.

Toledo lost to Western Michigan, but it's not out of the race yet. The Rockets are still one of the strongest teams in the MAC this season. Their offense is one to fear and their next opponent, Ball State, has a defense that might not live up to the challenge.

Central Michigan ( - 3 )

The Chippewas, whether prepared for it or not, were the next MAC West team on Western Michigan’s chopping block. The 406 total offensive yards by the Chippewas are impressive by themselves, but can’t stack up to Western Michigan’s 628 total yards.

Daniel Richardson, a regular offensive giant for Central Michigan, underperformed against the Broncos. The redshirt freshman often excels at passing, but only mustered 157 yards and one touchdown, below average for himself this season. 

The rushing corps didn’t disappoint, however. Kobe Lewis managed 114 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Kalil Pimpleton, a wide receiver, even managed to rush for 108 yards and three touchdowns on seven attempts. 

Central Michigan is now in the same shoes Toledo was in a week ago. Fresh off of a loss against the Broncos, its next opponent will be a struggling Eastern Michigan.

Ball State ( - )

Ball State is winning games, but they are not easy wins. The Cardinals’ 31-25 win over Northern Illinois shows how precarious their position in the MAC West is. Both of their wins this season have come from teams weaker than them, and even then the struggle is apparent.

Every game the Cardinals have played this season has been decided by a touchdown or less. Wednesday was no different. Ball State and Northern Illinois were almost identical in every aspect aside from rushing yards.

Drew Plitt and the offense have carried Ball State thus far. The defense needs to gain stopping power, or else Toledo will roll over them next week.

Miami  ( + 1 ) 

The RedHawks’ 18-day break in between its tough loss against Buffalo and its matchup with Akron should have Miami ready to make a late push at a title spot. 

Miami’s next three games are Akron, Kent State and Bowling Green. The Kent State game will be tough, and the RedHawks will need some help from the Golden Flashes, as they look to be one of the only teams who could possibly beat Buffalo. 

Ohio ( - 1 ) 

The Bobcats didn’t play last week, and in reality it could be the best thing to happen to their season. 

Ohio would’ve had its hands full on the road against Miami. With questions still looming amongst the offense and the defense shorthanded, beating the defending MAC champs on the road would’ve been Ohio’s toughest challenge. Since the Bobcats don’t have that challenge in its way, the road to Detroit will lighten up.

It’s not often you hear that a 1-1 team is in control of its own destiny, but if the Bobcats beat Bowling Green, Buffalo and Kent State, they will go to the MAC championship. The Falcons don’t pose much of a threat to the Bobcats, but Buffalo and Kent State will be a tough out. Still, if the well-rested Bobcats win their next three, they’ll have a first class ticket to the Motor City. 

Eastern Michigan ( - )

A late-game loss to Ball State in week two left spectators hopeful that the Eagles had potential to make something out of their season. That hope was quickly washed away after Eastern Michigan’s 45-28 loss to Toledo. 

Eastern Michigan, much like Northern Illinois, has been out-played in each of its losses this season. With Central Michigan this Saturday and Western Michigan the proceeding week, it doesn’t look as if the Eagles position in the rankings will change.

Akron ( + 1) 

Akron hasn’t won a game since 2018, yet found a way to move up the list for a second straight week, who would’ve thought? 

Akron coach Tom Arth wants a win more than anybody in the conference and he’s getting closer. The Zips have been competitive in all three of their losses as Teon Dollard slowly becomes one of the MAC’s best running backs; they just can’t put it into a four quarter effort. 

If Arth can get the team to play good football for all four quarters, 2020 could be the year he gets his first win. 

Northern Illinois ( - 1 ) 

A loss to Ball State last week left the Huskies with an 0-3 start in the shortened 2020 season.

The Huskies aren’t bad per se, but their schedule and competition in their division has been tough. Northern Illinois has already seen two of the best offenses in the conference out of Buffalo and Central Michigan, and one of the most improved teams from the West in Ball State. 

It might be too early to say, but things won’t likely turn around for them this week on the road against the undefeated Western Michigan Broncos.

Bowling Green ( - ) 

The Falcons can’t catch a break. A 42-17 loss to Buffalo has all but capped a frustrating season for Scot Loeffler and his staff. To be fair, games between teams at the top and bottom of the MAC East aren’t often close.

Quarterback Matt McDonald threw for 219 yards but still has yet to pass for a touchdown this season. McDonald was also sacked four times. The redshirt junior has been slowly improving since his debut against Toledo, but it isn’t fast enough for Bowling Green to make significant progress.

Bowling Green’s two touchdowns came thanks to the efforts of running back Terion Stewart, who also rushed for 42 yards. Stewart has proven a crucial piece for the Falcons in their past two games, totaling 204 rushing yards in two games. 

The Falcons are struggling, but pieces of a good team are starting to form. McDonald is starting to improve, and Stewart has exploded in his freshman season. If Loeffler and his staff can hone these elements, the Falcons might stand a chance against Ohio on Saturday.




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