2024 MAC Power Rankings: The Hurricanes Aren’t the Only Miami Squad To Know

    One of the few conferences untouched by realignment, the MAC 2024 Power Rankings feature the same teams but in a different order.

    All 12 members return in 2024, giving the MAC Power Rankings welcome familiarity. However, the transfer portal shook up the talent pool, resulting in major movement atop the conference’s hierarchy.

    2024 MAC Power Rankings

    12) Kent State Golden Flashes

    The Golden Flashes can only go up after posting a 1-11 record in head coach Kenni Burns’ inaugural season. While there’s is no debating Kent State’s immense struggles, it was the first year of a colossal rebuild, with Burns inheriting just four starters following Sean Lewis’ departure.

    The program should take a step forward in Year 2. Still, it’s difficult to envision a significantly improved final record, especially with Pitt, Tennessee, and Penn State forming three of Kent State’s first four contests in 2024.

    11) Akron Zips

    Since Terry Bowden left the program in 2018, Akron has been a bottom-of-the-nation team, posting no more than two wins in any season. That trend isn’t likely to change in 2024.

    Tahj Bullock is the only returning QB who saw snaps last season but was uninspiring as a passer: 30 of 64 for 262 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. His main competition will be Cal transfer Ben Finley, who is on his third team in as many years.

    Clearly, the Zips won’t be led by a load-bearing signal-caller, and although the defense has some exciting pieces, they can’t score points for the offense.

    If Joe Moorhead doesn’t produce results in 2024, the Zips will likely oust their head coach after just three years once again (Tom Arth, 2019-2021).

    10) Buffalo Bulls

    Maurice Linguist is out, and Pete Lembo is in. Longtime fans of the MAC should remember Lembo as Ball State’s HC in the early 2010s. He led the program to back-to-back bowl appearances in 9+ campaigns. He also took the reigns after a 4-8 season, going 6-6 before the aforementioned success. Can Lembo do the same with the Bulls?

    MORE: 2024 MAC Weekly Football Schedule

    Lembo added Virginia offensive analyst Dave Patenaude to run the unit, but he has his work cut out for him. Senior CJ Ogbonna is seemingly the favorite to be the starting QB after going 8 of 21 and rushing for 214 yards last year. Nevertheless, if Patenaude gets the offense to operate at a league-average level, Buffalo could surprise some teams due to its talent-laden defense.

    9) Ball State Cardinals

    The 2024 season is a make-or-break campaign for HC Mike Neu. In his eight years in Muncie, the Cardinals have had just one winning season, albeit a good one: 7-1 with an Arizona Bowl victory over San Jose State in 2020.

    Rising QB Kadin Semonza seemingly forced veteran Kiael Kelly into an all-purpose role (listed as a DB on the school’s roster but will also see time on offense and as a kick returner) and will have three starters returning up front. Yet, the Cardinals lost RB Marquez Cooper to San Diego State and will have 10 new first-teamers on defense.

    If all of that turnover results in an improvement on the Cardinals’ 4-8 record from 2023, Neu will live to see another season.

    8) Central Michigan Chippewas

    Coming off a 1-11 season in 2018, the Chippewas were at an all-time low and tabbed HC Jim McElwain as the program’s savior. He answered prayers immediately, guiding Central Michigan to an 8-6 record and the New Mexico Bowl.

    A 3-3 pandemic-shortened season and a 9-4 return to glory followed, but McElwain’s squad has lost its luster over the last two years (9-15). With Bert Emanuel Jr. healthy and leading RBs Marion Lukes and Myles Bailey back, the Chippewas could run their way to 6+ wins in 2024.

    The defense needs some work after allowing the third-most points per game in the conference (31.1), but DC Robb Akey is just two years removed from producing a top-five unit in the MAC.

    7) Eastern Michigan Eagles

    Chris Creighton’s Eagles have predominately been an above-average MAC team in his tenure, making six bowl games in the last eight years. The roster had several holes to fill in the offseason, and Creighton used the transfer portal to do so.

    Former Buffalo QB Cole Snyder will take over under center, with NC State transfers RB Delbert Mimms III and WR Porter Rooks bolstering the offense. WR JB Mitchell III and TE Jere Getzinger lead the returning talent, and JUCO recruit Oran Singleton could make a name for himself early on.

    The defensive depth chart is murkier, but DT Peyton Price, EDGE Justin Jefferson, CB Joshua Scott, and DB Quentavius Scandrett headline a strong unit.

    6) Ohio Bobcats

    Ohio has won 10 games in two straight seasons under Tim Albin, but keeping the streak alive will be tough in 2024. The transfer portal decimated the roster, with Kurtis Rourke, Miles Cross, Sieh Bangura, Will Kacmarek, and Keye Thompson leaving the Bobcats.

    Yet, the team still has talent, with QB Parker Navarro and RB Rickey Hunt Jr. primed to explode in expanded roles. The WR and TE rooms were rebuilt through outside additions, but they have time to gel.

    Arguably more concerning is the defensive side of the ball. Ohio led the MAC in points allowed per game (15.8) last season but returns just three starters, putting pressure on new DC John Hauser, who was an in-house promotion after Spence Nowinsky left for Memphis, to get his unit up to speed.

    5) Western Michigan Broncos

    Lance Taylor’s first season in Kalamazoo wasn’t anything to write home about (4-8), but Year 2 could be.

    The Broncos will have 15 starters back and won’t have to face Toledo or Miami in the regular season. QB Hayden Wolff has three years of meaningful snaps under his belt and has 1,000-yard back Jalen Buckley, WRs Kenneth Womack and Anthony Sambucci, and TE Blake Bosma at his disposal once again.

    MORE: 2024 MAC QB Rankings

    Although new DC Scott Power has his work cut out for him on defense, seven starters return, including star DBs Bilhal Kone, Tate Hallock, and Aaron Wofford.

    4) Northern Illinois Huskies

    Rocky Lombardi is gone, but the Huskies are a run-first team anyway — and who better to hand the ball off to than 1,300-yard RB Antario Brown? Plus, having WR Trayvon Rudolph, TE Grayson Barnes, and one of the best OLs in the conference will make the transition to Ethan Hampton or Arkansas-Pine Bluff transfer Jalen Macon under center easier.

    Not to mention NIU brings eight starters back from a defense that held MAC schools to 19.9 PPG last season.

    3) Toledo Rockets

    Toledo has options at quarterback, but none of them are remotely close to Dequan Finn’s level. Even still, RB Jacquez Stuart and the team’s top three WRs return and buoy an offense trotting out an entirely new OL.

    DC Vince Kehres’ unit has finished among the top three MAC teams in scoring in three consecutive seasons, and with all-conference defenders DT Darius Alexander and S Maxen Hook in-house, a fourth such campaign is within reach.

    2) Bowling Green Falcons

    TE Harold Fannin Jr. and RB Terion Stewart — that’s all you need to know. Well, and QB Connor Bazelak, who has completed just over 60% of his passes for 9,305 yards, 48 TDs, and 34 INTs across five seasons and three programs. Oh, and don’t forget about Camden Orth, who the Falcons use as a change-of-pace, dual-threat option throughout contests.

    In all seriousness, HC Scot Loeffler’s offense has the chance to be the best in the MAC this season, and the defense isn’t too far behind. LBs Darren Anders and Cashius Howell and CBs Davon Ferguson and Jalen Huskey will be missed, but the other seven starters return, including one of the best defenders in the entire conference, CB Jordan Oladokun.

    1) Miami RedHawks

    Can the Miami RedHawks repeat as conference champions? You better believe it.

    Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of two-time Super Bowl champion Blaine Gabbert, knows a thing or two about longevity. Entering his sixth season in Oxford, Brett’s collegiate experience is only rivaled by Bazelek. He battled injuries the last two years, but a fully healthy Gabbert is the undisputed QB1 in the MAC.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Strength of Schedule for All 134 FBS Teams

    Elite RB Rashad Amos is now an Ole Miss Rebel, but Purdue transfer Dylan Downing should form a solid duo with Kenny Tracy. Two of the team’s three leading wide receivers (Cade McDonald and Javon Tracy) are also back, and EDGE Brian Ugwu, LB Ty Wise, and LB Matt Salopek will help the defense suffocate offenses once again.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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