It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to unveil this week’s Mid-Major Power Poll. Please remember that these standings are very fluid and will change throughout the year as the teams sort things out the gridiron.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at this week’s poll.
* Please note that BYU is not included in these rankings since the Cougars cannot capture this bid!
1. Houston (2-0) — The Cougars move into the top spot this week after an impressive 34-31 victory over Louisville. While the win wasn’t completely perfect, Houston looked extremely solid on both sides of the ball, rolling up 462 yards on offense and forcing 5 turnovers on defense. Although it probably doesn’t carry much weight right now since the Cardinals are 0-2, this “W” will look much more impressive as UL starts winning games (don’t be surprised if that happens this week against Clemson!). However, since I expect them to win the AAC, the Cougs’ resume will be just a scintilla better than other two top contenders.
2. Temple (2-0) — One could certainly make the argument that Temple has the most impressive body of work thus far this season. The Owls followed up their 27-10 thrashing of Penn State – in which they recorded 10 sacks and held Penn State to just 52 yards over the final three quarters – with a 34-26 win over AAC preseason favorite Cincinnati. Even though it gave up 557 yards of total offense, Temple’s defense still got the job done, forcing five turnovers. Given that defense wins championships, I like the Owls’ chances to earn a spot against Houston in the AAC Championship Game.
3. Toledo (1-0) — The Rockets vaulted all the way to No. 3 in this week’s rankings after posting a hard-fought 16-12 victory over Arkansas. Yes, the UT defense bent at times (515 yards), but it didn’t break, limiting the Razorbacks to just three points on five trips inside the red zone. That total includes two different drives where Arkansas had first and goal from inside the Toledo 5-yard line, yet couldn’t punch the ball across the goal line. With a “D” like that, the Rockets have to like their chances to win the MAC this fall, making them a legitimate threat to capture the “Group of Five Bid,” especially if Arkansas finishes in the top half of the SEC.
4. Boise State (1-1) — Just when it looked like the Broncos were going to retain the top spot, BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum started doing Tanner Mangum things, completing a 35-yard Hail Mary pass to Mitchell Juergens on fourth-and-seven to hand Boise its first loss of the season. However, all is not lost for the Broncos. Despite this heartbreaking defeat, BSU still has a strong resume, owning a win over Washington. With several high profile games remaining on the schedule – including Virginia, Colorado State, Utah State, and Air Force — the Broncos will have plenty of opportunities to show that they’re the best non-AQ team in the land.
5. Bowling Green (1-1) — By virtue of its 48-27 thumping of Maryland, Bowling Green debuts in the power poll at No. 5 this week. QB Matt Johnson was virtually unstoppable on Saturday, completing 36 of 55 passes for 491 yards and 6 TDs, leading the Falcons to 42 second half points. With that type of explosiveness on offense, don’t be surprised to see BG move up on this list, especially with games against Memphis and Purdue over the next two weeks.
6. Western Kentucky (2-0) — Sorry, Hilltopper fans, but WKU is still behind a couple of one-loss teams. However, that’s in not an indictment of your team. I was extremely impressed with what I saw from the Hilltoppers last Thursday night against Louisiana Tech, especially the play of Brandon Doughty, who I think is the top “Group of Five” Heisman Trophy candidate. With that said, I’ve got Western Kentucky slightly behind the other squads based on the quality of wins. While beating Vanderbilt was impressive, its not quite the same as Washington or Maryland, which both played in bowl games last season.
7. Colorado State (1-1) — I realize this might shock a few people, but the fact is that the Rams deserve this spot. Sure, CSU lost to Minnesota, but there’s no shame in losing to a team that nearly beat TCU the previous week. If nothing else, the Rams showed that they’re able to overcome adversity. Even though it played without star WR Rashard Higgins, struggled at quarterback, and turned the ball over four times, CSU still managed to force overtime against a Golden Gopher team that’s expected to compete for the Big Ten West title. That type of resilience is just enough to separate the Rams from the other very qualified teams listed below.
Others receiving consideration: Navy, Northern Illinois, Air Force, Arkansas State, Utah State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia Southern, Ohio.