How will CMU football fare in 2013?
The Morning Sun
Predictions more often than that completely flop in your face (my MLB predictions are a near-complete mess), but every once in a while you run into one that you nail.
I did pick the Central Michigan football team to finish the 2012 regular season with a 6-6 record, which is exactly what transpired. I also had them beating Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, so I guess it was one of the rare times that I at least got the end result correct.
What I’m really saying is that expect the following predictions to be entirely inaccurate.
Even so, it’s a fun exercise so let’s get started.
Saturday, Aug. 31 - at Michigan
Quite a different way for the Chippewas to start the season in 2013 as opposed to last year when it hosted Southeast Missouri State. Playing in front of over 100,000 people and a national television audience against the 17th-ranked team in the country will be a daunting task especially with CMU breaking in a new quarterback in junior Cody Kater. The keys will be winning the turnover battle and getting a run game established to help settle in Kater. Even so, the mighty Wolverines will likely be too much to handle. But if Appalachian State (2007) and Toledo (2008) can win at the Big House, so can Central Michigan. I’d have no problem writing about one of the biggest upsets in CMU history.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Central Michigan 17 (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 7 - vs. New Hampshire
New Hampshire only played one FBS opponent last year, that being a 44-7 loss at Minnesota. But traditionally, it is a strong FCS program and CMU cannot walk into its home opener thinking it has an easy win. Chip Kelly turned the Wildcats into an up-tempo offensive juggernaut. Look for a quick start to put the Chippewas well on their way to a victory.
Prediction: Central Michigan 38, New Hampshire 16 (1-1)
Saturday, Sept. 14 - at UNLV
This could turn out to be a key game for the Chippewas as UNLV has had its fair share of struggles with its football program and this is certainly a winnable game. The Rebels have only won two games each of the last three years, so a loss would be a low note for CMU.
Prediction: Central Michigan 27, UNLV 13 (2-1)
Saturday, Sept. 21 - vs. Toledo
This is another major game as Central Michigan opens its MAC slate with a Rockets program that is traditionally one of the better teams in the conference. Last year’s game was a close one until a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions returned for touchdowns turned it in Toledo’s favor. Flip the turnover battle and win the game.
Prediction: Central Michigan 38, Toledo 35 (3-1, 1-0 MAC)
Saturday, Sept. 28 - at North Carolina State
The first game of a three-game road trip, Central Michigan will need to put together another very good performance to top the Wolfpack, similar to the performance a year ago at Iowa. Look for the Chippewas to keep it close, but not quite get over the hump.
Prediction: North Carolina State 23, Central Michigan 17 (3-2)
Saturday, Oct. 5 - at Miami
Central Michigan compiled one of its best showings of the season in 2012 when it rolled past the RedHawks at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Miami will certainly want a measure of revenge, but it seems as though it is a program that is a step behind the Chippewas in terms of development. Central by 10.
Prediction: Central Michigan 31, Miami 21 (4-2, 2-0)
Saturday, Oct. 12 - at Ohio
At this point of the road trip, there is a chance the Chippewas might be a little bit fatigued. If they are, the timing will be bad as Ohio appears to be one of the top teams in the entire Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats are my preseason pick to win the MAC Championship. While Ohio usually methodically wears down an opponent with a power running game, it is still proficient in the air with veteran quarterback Tyler Tettleton. If CMU struggles to stop both, it will be a long day.
Prediction: Ohio 42, Central Michigan 24 (4-3, 2-1)
Saturday, Oct. 19 - vs. Northern Illinois
It is fair to say that Central Michigan has Northern Illinois’ full attention. Two years ago, the Chippewas were the only MAC team to defeat the Huskies with a 48-41 victory. Central Michigan then went to DeKalb, Ill., last year and led in the third quarter before NIU eventually pulled away, showing why it was eventually a BCS team. Hard to see Northern Illinois losing again in Mt. Pleasant, but stranger things have happened.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 38, Central Michigan 34 (4-4, 2-2)
Wednesday, Nov. 6 - at Ball State
The lone mid-week game for CMU is a nationally televised tilt at Ball State, a team that has made tremendous strides under head coach Pete Lembo. In doing these predictions so late, I had the luxury of seeing some of the Cardinals’ Thursday night win over Illinois State. Needless to say, it wasn’t the prettiest of performances in the first have before the hosts eventually pulled away. It is unfair to take too much away from week one, but it showed Ball State is beatable. With such a layoff leading into this game, the Chippewas should be well-prepared.
Prediction: Central Michigan 37, Ball State 28 (5-4, 3-2)
Saturday, Nov. 16 - at Western Michigan
The ol’ rivalry game. The Broncos are super young and a bit of a mystery under first-year head coach P.J Fleck, while Dan Enos is in his fourth year and has established something in Mt. Pleasant. Central Michigan has struggled in its last couple trips to Kalamazoo, but this is the perfect year for the Chippewas to flip that script as long as a horrid fourth quarter like last year doesn’t derail them.
Prediction: Central Michigan 24, Western Michigan 20 (6-4, 4-2)
Saturday, Nov. 23 - vs. UMass
Last year, it was kind of unfortunate how much of a laughingstock UMass was in its first year in FBS, at least early in the season. By the time the Chippewas played the Minutemen in late November, it was clearly a much-improved squad. UMass should continue to make strides this year, but it isn’t quite there yet. With Central Michigan happy to be back home, expect a fairly sizeable win.
Prediction: Central Michigan 35, UMass 10 (7-4, 5-2)
Friday, Nov. 29 - vs. Eastern Michigan
Rare is the year that Eastern Michigan does not give the Chippewas fits. Even last year, the Eagles grabbed a 14-0 lead before CMU stormed back and earned the victory. Expect nothing less from this one, but some way and somehow Central Michigan pulls it out again. I’ll give it my five-overtime special.
Prediction: Central Michigan 57, Eastern Michigan 55, five OTs