COLUMN: CMU needs to make a statement in Michigan State game
If you are a Central Michigan football fan, I am sure Michigan State’s 45-7 shellacking over the Chippewas last year was not a fun game to watch.
Sure, CMU did not have the likes of Dan LeFevour, Antonio Brown or Nick Bellore, but I am sure many did not think it was going to be that lopsided.
The Spartans surged for 481 yards of total offense, compared to just 112 for the Chippewas. They were really never in the game from the start.
But this year needs to be different.
I still do not think people realize how big this weekend is for Mount Pleasant and CMU. If you thought there were a lot of people during welcome week or during a Western Michigan weekend—double that. Or maybe even triple it.
For the first time in CMU history, this rivalry game will be played on home turf. And Chippewa fans will want to see their team put a competitive product on the field.
Now, I am not saying I expect them to pull off another upset. But they do need to keep it close and maintain the fans’ interest for at least three quarters.
Unlike last year, the excuse of injuries, inexperience and having a new coach will not work.
After the Chippewas 38-27 win over Southeast Missouri State last Thursday, there are no major injuries to report. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff is in his third season as a starter and has a senior-laden offensive line in front of him. And it is Dan Enos’ third season as head coach.
It is time to see some results.
Yes, MSU is the best team CMU will face all season, but I still do not think the Spartans are as good as a year ago. Their defense is the real deal as we saw last week, not allowing an offensive touchdown to Boise State.
And running back Le’Veon Bell picked up right where he left off last season. The junior rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos.
But they do have an inexperienced quarterback in Andrew Maxwell, who will be making just his second career start on Saturday.
Yes, he is playing a MAC school, but if you do not think he will feel any pressure playing an in-state rival, 30 minutes from his hometown (Midland) and in front of the largest crowd in CMU football history, you are mistaken.
If the Chippewas can cause Maxwell to make a few mistakes and force some turnovers, then who knows, the game might just be pretty close.
This needs to be a statement game for CMU, who is trying to prove Mid-American Conference teams are no longer chalk-up wins for major conference teams. Other MAC schools have done it already in week one. Ohio defeated Penn State on the road, Northern Illinois lost by one point to Iowa and Toledo fell to Arizona in overtime.
I understand MSU is probably better than all of those teams, but if CMU can keep the game within 17 points, I think it will earn respect from its fans and around the league.
One thing is for sure, the atmosphere around the city and stadium will be electric. I just hope the game can come close to matching it.
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