It’s no surprise what will be on everyone’s minds come Saturday.
As the Central Michigan football team heads to the Big House to face No.17 Michigan, expectations are as high for this team as they’ve been in years. Head coach Dan Enos enters his fourth year at the helm of a football team that was coming off a Mid-American Conference Championship and bowl win when he first arrived.
However, the team he inherited was barely a team at all, with most players either declaring for the draft or graduating. It took three years, some tough recruiting and a few hard lessons, but the Chippewas appear ready to be MAC contenders. Obviously, games against MAC powerhouses such as Northern Illinois and Toledo are circled, but for now, Michigan is the focal point.
For those three hours in Ann Arbor, the ground shakes and the lights come on. It’s a time for CMU to represent itself on the national stage. But let’s be honest, no one expects CMU to come away with a win in their first week against a ranked opponent. The home opener against New Hampshire, a very good FCS team, is no slouch either. What will be essential to see is the last stretch of games at the end of the season, which is the weakest of the schedule. That late push could put them over the top for a second consecutive bowl appearance along with more gold in the trophy case.
It’s a crucial season for Enos and his squad. This team, save for seniors who were redshirted their freshman seasons, is completely Enos’. No more talk about transition periods or growing pains will fly. It’s time to see what kind of team Enos has built over these past few seasons. Central Michigan largely struggled on the field during his first 2.5 seasons, but the team finally found its groove at the end of last season, rallying to a 7-6 record and a bowl win.
Enos deserves credit for that. Now it is time to see if CMU can sustain that type of success for a whole season.
Success will largely hinge on the play of newly-named starting quarterback Cody Kater. He is a talented, motivated player, but inexperience could hinder Kater, at least early on. It’s important for him to get past that early in the season and for the rest of the team to step up and fill in should there be any early season struggles.
It’s an exciting, but nervous time to be a Chippewas fan. This could be the start of another great stretch of seasons for CMU, or yet another in a recent string of mediocre seasons.
The Chippewas should expect to compete in the MAC, have a winning record and play in a bowl game at the end of the season. Anything short of that would be disappointing.