Counting Down the Best Football Programs in the MAC the Last Three Years

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This is the ninth post in our 24-part Super Squad Series, recognizing the best programs over the last three years in every single Division I FBS & FCS Conference, as well as the upperclassmen & staff who’ve anchored them.

In our ninth entry, we reach our first FBS winner, from the Mid-American Conference.


MAC Teams Ranked - 2020 Super Squads

Unlike other Super Squads we’ve awarded to-date, the Mid-American Conference hasn’t had a clear runaway leader since Western Michigan’s epic season of ‘Row(ing) the Boat’ in 2016-17 (the last year before our first published rankings).

The highly-competitive conference has awarded three different Football Champions the last three years, in three championship games hosting six different contenders.

With no clear runaway, and three (or six or more) worthy for the honor, who has played best???

Thankfully at Hierank we’re in the business of generating cold robotic rankings that just get it right.

And with three bowl wins to cap three strong seasons that each barely-missed the title game, we picked a winner:

Congratulations to the Ohio Bobcats for having the best football program in the Mid-American Conference for the last three years!

After strong bowl victories and just missing the MAC championship three times, we’ve identified the Bobcats as the 2nd, 1st, and 3rd strongest team in the conference each year, making them our strongest MAC program over this period.

Cheers to the entire Ohio University program, and especially to these 50 student athletes who were on the roster all three seasons, 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20:

Julian Ross, Louie Zervos, Cameron Odom, Jamal Hudson, Michael Farkas, Isiah Cox, De’Vante Mitchell, Javon Hagan, Jarren Hampton, Nathan Rourke, K.J. Minter, Drew Keszei, Marcus Coleman, Tariq Drake, Keevon Harris, DL Knock, Tyler Tupa, Marlin Brooks, Alvin Floyd, Jake Neatherton, T.J. Robinson, Eric Popp, Dylan Conner, Austin Clack, Michael Ballentine, Ilyaas Motley, Xavior Motley, Adam Luehrman, Jared Dorsa, Will Evans, Marques Grimes, Griffin Hites, Sam McKnight, James Leyden, Austen Pleasants, Brett Kitrell, Brody Rodgers, Michael Massinople, Felipe Fernandez, Nick Sink, Steven Hayes, Cole Irland, Hagen Meservy, Samson Jackson, Austin Conrad, Ryan Luehrman, Amos Ogun-Semore, Chandler Dietz, Chukwudi Chukwu, Brian Arp

Here are their conference runners-up, from worst-to-first:


12th

Bowling Green Falcons, #203

2.7 Super Squad Rating

Bowling Green Falcons logo

Record:

8-28 Overall
6-18 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

37.8

Yearly:

#196, #193, #213

The Falcons were never remarkably bad over this period, but did bad with remarkable consistency. A 2-6 conference record had them second-to-last in the MAC East standings every single time.


11th

Akron Zips, #201

2.8 Super Squad Rating

Akron Zips logo

Record:

11-27 Overall
8-16 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

36.8

Yearly:

#144, #165, #252

In just two short years, Akron went from being the 2017 MAC runner-up to being the fifth worst team in ALL (including the FCS) of Division I college football.

In 2019 the winless Zips were outscored by their MAC opponents more than 4-to-1, they scored zero TDs in half of their games, and were completely shut out for two.

Their latest game, a 52-3 Loss to our winner, Ohio, adds an illustrative exclamation point here to one of the worst FBS seasons we’ve witnessed to date.

Without significant changes, we’ll find them at the bottom of our MAC Super Squads list next year.


10th

Ball State Cardinals, #184

3.2 Super Squad Rating

Ball State Cardinals logo

Record:

11-25 Overall
7-17 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

40.7

Yearly:

#241, #162, #120

The Cardinals‘ performance the last three years looks a lot like Akron behind them – except generally better and trending opposite.

While the Zips will likely lose ground on this list in 2021, look for Ball State to go the other way.


9th

Kent State Golden Flashes, #182

3.2 Super Squad Rating

Kent State Golden Flashes logo

Record:

11-26 Overall
7-17 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

41.7

Yearly:

#225, #200, #107

Another team on the rise, Kent State had a bit of a Cinderella moment in their most-recently played contest, with an unexpected and decisive bowl win over Mountain West powerhouse and national player, Utah State.

Going into December 2019 the Golden Flashes had never won a bowl game, ever. They’ve only even appeared in one since 1972, and that year they played a team that no longer exists! (Tampa)

With such an exciting finish, we look for lots of energy from this program going into the Fall.


8th

Central Michigan Chippewas, #156

3.9 Super Squad Rating

Central Michigan Chippewas logo

Record:

17-22 Overall
12-12 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

46.6

Yearly:

#139, #196, #114

Here we leave our tight cohort of MAC bottom-squads and jump over 25 positions to the first school we’ve touched on in Hierank’s home state, a program known locally to be soft, except for when they aren’t (just ask Michigan State).

This Chippewas squad history is another one of highs and lows and no definitive trend. CMU went from being edged out of the MAC Championship game by tie-break in 2017, to performing a winless MAC schedule in 2018, and then back to the MAC championship game (to lose) in 2019, one of the school’s best seasons in recent memory.

With Central as the general underdog in one of the Great Lakes State’s fiercest (and drunkest) rivalries, it’s fitting that we haven’t yet counted-down their nemesis Western Michigan on this list.


7th

Northern Illinois Huskies, #126

4.7 Super Squad Rating

Northern Illinois Huskies logo

Record:

21-18 Overall
16-8 MAC
1 Championship (2018)

Average Power:

51.7

Yearly:

#103, #106, #158

Just breaking into the upper-half of all 256 Division I teams, we jump 30 more positions and across the league-average 50.0 Power marker to the bottom of the MAC‘s clear upper-echelon programs.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, one MAC Championship wasn’t enough to steal the top honor, especially after finishing below .500 in 2019 and losing at least 5 games each of the other two years.


6th

Miami (OH) RedHawks, #120

4.9 Super Squad Rating

Miami (OH) RedHawks logo

Record:

19-19 Overall
16-8 MAC
1 Championship (2019)

Average Power:

52.4

Yearly:

#142, #105, #106

The RedHawks are reigning Mid-American Conference Champions.

That plus two years finishing in the upper-half of teams still wasn’t enough for them to crack the MAC’s Top 5, but our next two entries illustrate just how close they were…


5th

Western Michigan Broncos, #119

4.9 Super Squad Rating

Western Michigan Broncos logo

Record:

20-18 Overall
14-10 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

52.4

Yearly:

#124, #132, #96

The Broncos make up the stronger half of the bitter cross-state rivalry mentioned earlier with Central Michigan. They’ve handled CMU quite easily the last two years, after losing tight one to the Chips at home in 2017.

Three solid winning seasons earn Western this 5th-best slot.


4th

Eastern Michigan Eagles, #118

4.9 Super Squad Rating

Eastern Michigan Eagles logo

Record:

18-20 Overall
11-13 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

52.5

Yearly:

#134, #85, #133

The last of our insanely-close #118/#119/#120 MAC teams has the worst overall record, but put in the best single season of all three.

What their 2018 7-6 Win-Loss record doesn’t show:

  • Defeating Purdue the same year Purdue crushed Ohio State
  • An early streak of four losses happening by a TD, one OT, three OTs, and a FG, against a gauntlet of San Diego State and three top MAC rivals.
  • Winning their last five MAC contests and losing a bowl shootout to a 10-3 Georgia Southern team by only 2 points.

Given the historical lack of success in this program, the last few years have been an exciting time for Eastern Football. Go Eagles!


3rd

Toledo Rockets, #97

5.6 Super Squad Rating

Toledo Rockets logo

Record:

24-15 Overall
15-8 MAC
1 Championship (2017)

Average Power:

55.1

Yearly:

#70, #91, #142

The Rockets are a clear step up from the crowd at #4-6, unfortunately their best recent season was three years ago, and last year they hobbled to a 6-6 overall finish, losing in the MAC.


2nd

Buffalo Bulls, #86

6.1 Super Squad Rating

Buffalo Bulls logo

Record:

24-15 Overall
16-8 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

57.2

Yearly Finish:

#118, #84, #65

No championships the last three years, but the upwardly-mobile Bulls have put in the first and third best-rated seasons covered so far on our list.

Buffalo is one of our closer runners-up to date, and will be a strong contender for the 2021 Super Squad title with a strong showing in Fall 2020.


WINNER

Ohio Bobcats, #73

6.9 Super Squad Rating

Ohio Bobcats logo

Record:

25-14 Overall
16-8 MAC
0 Championships

Average Power:

59.3

Yearly Finish:

#102, #56, #73

Congratulations to the Bobcats‘ coaches, staff, administrators, all players, and especially the 50 young men present on the roster all three years to earn this title!

MAC Teams Ranked - 2020 Super Squads

Super Squad Rankings

These are our up-to-date Division I Super Squad rankings after Series Week 9. Follow along as each Sunday we fill in more teams and announce the next Super Squad!

Ohio Week 9 Super Squad Poster


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