Rant Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings: Week 6
Rant Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings: Week 6
The life of a mid-major team is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and constant change in perception. Week 5 was no different for our power rankings which saw teams rise while others fell, some teams impress, while others disappointed. As with the landscape of college football, these power rankings are ever changing.
The teams in the Week 5 power rankings lived up to the expectations for the most part, going 9-1 as a group. However, all wins are not created equal, so there were major shakeups all over the top 10, including teams falling despite a win. When the reputation of the non-automatic qualifiers is at stake, style matters.
Looking at the rankings this week, two teams fell out of the top ten which opened up the rankings for newcomers to make a splash. One team debuts very high after a big Saturday effort while the other fills out the top ten by beating a team that was in the rankings last week.
The MAC still boasts three teams in the top 10, matching the Sun Belt Conference who increased their number of entrants by one this week. The WAC lost a team, but still has two teams remaining and the Mountain West sits pat with their same two representatives from last week, though in slightly different spots.
Ball State Cardinals
San Jose Spartans
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Northern Illinois Huskies
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
It’s tough out there for the little guys, and we’re no easier on them in our power rankings. So without further ado, we present the Mid-Major Week 6 Power Rankings.
10) Kent State Golden Flashes 3-1 (2-0) MAC
Last week: NR
Kent State got the MAC-tion started this season in a shootout with the previously No. 3 Ball State Cardinals in a game that saw over 1,000-yards of total offense combined and 88 combined points. They forced Ball State to go away from their running game, holding the 20th ranked rushing team in the nation to just 2.9 yards a carry and Jahwan Edwards, who came into the game averaging 107 yards rushing per game to just 40 on 15 carries.
That’s not to say they didn’t make it interesting. The defense surrendered 445 yards passing to Ball State’s Keith Wenning who finished the night with five touchdown passes. The secondary was lacking, but the offense came through with just enough behind three passing touchdowns from quarterback Spencer Keith who finished the night with 295 yards, and running back Trayion Durham’s two scores on the ground.
9) UL Monroe Warhawks 2-2 (0-0) Sun Belt
Last week: 10 (+1)
The Warhawks got a reprieve from their brutal early season schedule against the Tulane Green Wave and dominated from start to finish in a 63-10 rout. The offense rolled up over 553 yards of total offense including 253 yards passing from quarterback Kolton Browning who had three touchdown passes in the first half. The running game got involved too, rushing for 222 yards led by DeVontae McNeal who finished the day with 114 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.
The defense for the Warhawks came to play this weekend as well. They shut down the Green Wave offense holding them to just 151 total yards, including negative-9 yards rushing on the day. Tulane’s leading rusher had just seven yards on seven carries. ULM also turned Tulane over four times with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. All in all, it was total domination for a Warhawks team against an overmatched Tulane club.
8) Toledo Rockets 4-1 (2-0) MAC
Last week: 9 (+1)
The Rockets took care of business early and often on Saturday on the road against the Western Michigan Broncos. They scored the first 20 points of the game en route to a 20-7 halftime lead before pouring it on in the second half and finishing with a 37-17 win.
Running back David Fluellen starred for the Rockets, rushing for 213 yards on 21 carries and scoring three touchdowns. The defense also got in on the act, turning the Broncos over four times with three interceptions, including one that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown by Jordan Haden. The key for these mid-majors is to win the games you’re supposed to win convincingly. Mission accomplished, Toledo.
7) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 4-1 (1-0) Sun Belt
Last week: 8 (+1)
The Hilltoppers looked ready to topple on Saturday as they found themselves trailing the Arkansas State Red Wolves 13-0 at halftime in Jonesboro. Halftime adjustments were made, however, and WKU came out with their hair on fire, rallying to score 26 unanswered points after halftime to double up the Red Wolves 26-13.
They can thank running back Antonio Andrews for this win as the junior racked up 215 yards on 29 carries, scoring once and driving the Hilltopper offense to the win. Quarterback James Mauro added a pair of passing touchdowns while throwing just a dozen passes, completing eight, for 104 yards. It was a great job turning a rough start around for the Hilltoppers, but they'll want to avoid slow starts like this one against teams they won't be able to catch down the line.
6) Utah State Aggies 4-1 (0-0) WAC
Last week: 7 (+1)
The Aggies took care of business against an overmatched UNLV Rebels team as they visited Logan, Utah. They built a 20-7 lead heading into halftime after a scoreless 1st quarter, and then weathered a mini-rally from the Rebels in the 3rd before pouring it on and distancing themselves with 16-unanswered points in the 4th quarter, coasting to a comfortable 35-13 win.
Chuckie Keeton was ruthless under center for the Aggies, throwing for 402 yards, better than the entire Rebels offense, and four touchdowns. Running back Kerwynn Williams brought his killer instinct to the field as well, gaining 260 total yards of offense (113 rushing, 147 receiving) and one score. The Aggies look like a team that knows how to keep their foot on the gas pedal which makes them dangerous down the stretch.
5) Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 3-1 (1-0) Sun Belt
Last week: NR
The Blue Raiders make the biggest splash this week after walking into Bobby Dodd Stadium and laying a beatdown on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 49-28. Tech was picked by many to contend for an ACC title, but Midde Tennessee did not care about that, going toe-to-toe with the Jackets before blowing the doors off in the second half. The Raiders finished by outscoring the home team 28-7 in the second half to break open a 21-21 tie at halftime.
Running back Benny Cunningham put the team on his back for this one, rushing 27 times for 217 yards and five touchdowns, essentially beating GT on his own. Quarterback Logan Kilgore turned in an efficient performance, completing 17-of-23 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns to just one interception. The Blue Raiders had not been impressive in their first three games, but their blockbuster showing against an ACC contender put them on the map in a very big way.
4) Boise State Broncos 3-1 (1-0) MWC
Last week: 2 (-2)
Boise State looked like it was going to put its offensive woes behind it on Saturday when it built up a 25-0 halftime lead over the New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque. It turned out they would need all of them, however, as their defense, which has been a major strength this season, allowed a frantic Lobo rally that caused the Broncos’ comfortable lead to shrink to a 32-29 squeaker of a win. Boise State was outscored in the second half 29-7, which won't make Bronco nation happy, but they will certainly take the win.
The Broncos were able to hold on thanks to a stellar offensive night for quarterback Joe Southwick, who went 24-of-34 for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Jay Ajayi chipped in with a six-carry 118 yard performance and a touchdown of his own. Boise State will need to get their whole team working on the same page, though, if they want to avoid scares like this one and improve their standing in the power rankings.
3) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 4-0 (0-0) WAC
Last week: 5 (+2)
La Tech had an impressive weekend, beating a member of the ACC in the Virginia Cavaliers in a wild 44-38 win in Charlottesville. This was a game of runs. The first run came for the Bulldogs, who scored 34 straight points from late in the 2nd quarter to early into the 4th. That run erased a 24-10 Virginia lead and gave Tech a 44-24 lead. The second run came for Virginia as they rattled off 14 straight points late in the 4th quarter to try and create some kind of rally, but were cut short by the three interceptions thrown by their quarterback and 16 penalties committed by their team.
The Bulldogs took advantage of the Cavaliers’ implosion and escaped Virginia with a win despite being outgained by nearly 240 yards on offense. How’d they do it? Persistence and luck, most likely. Quarterback Colby Cameron scored a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one rushing, while throwing for 218 yards and rushing for another 23. The defense came up big when it needed to, picking off Virginia’s Michael Rocco three times, including one for a pick-six by Chip Hester in the third quarter. Taking advantage of opportunities is what it takes for mid-majors to make some noise against the big boys.
2) Ohio Bobcats 5-0 (1-0) MAC
Last week: 1 (-1)
The Bobcats fall from the top spot in our power rankings after enduring a scare from the winless Massachusetts Minutemen in a wild 37-34 shootout win. Ohio likely wasn’t expecting to have to fight so hard on their trip to the Northeast, but found themselves trailing 27-20 heading into the 4th quarter. They were able to dig deep and rattle off 21-unanswered points and hang on, getting out of Gillette Stadium with the win by the skin of their teeth.
The Bobcats relied on their running game, and running back Beau Blankenship in particular, to get this win. He carried the ball for 43 of Ohio’s 52 rushing attempts and accounted for all but five of the team’s rushing yards, racking up 269 yards on the ground. He grinded this win out almost single-handedly with a pair of 4th quarter touchdown runs to seal the deal and keep the Bobcats’ perfect record intact.
1) Nevada Wolfpack 4-1 (1-0) MWC
Last week: 4 (+3)
The Wolfpack jump to the top spot of our power rankings this week after another impressive offensive performance in a 34-21 win over the Texas State Bobcats. Nevada rolled up 559 yards of total offense and 31 first downs on their way to putting this contest away with 14 unanswered points in the second half.
Cody Fajardo led the way scoring four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) to account for the bulk of the Wolfpack scoring. He finished the day completing 21-of-34 passes for 286 yards and added another 95 yards rushing on 10 carries for a total of 381 yards of offense, pushing him to ninth in the nation in total offense. Stefphon Jefferson continued his nation-leading rushing performance this season, carrying the ball 40 times on Saturday for 178 yards. Rolling up the offensive numbers like that will go a long way in keeping Nevada at the top of the mid-majors' mountain.