ANN ARBOR — Enter the Big House, leave a loser.
The Central Michigan football team made mistakes and missed opportunities, and suffered a season-opening blowout loss, 59-9, at No. 17 Michigan on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
And to make matters worse, the Chippewas may be without their starting quarterback, junior quarterback Cody Kater, and senior tailback, Zurlon Tipton, for the rest of the season.
Kater, who made his first Division 1 start Saturday, went 2-for-6 for 13 yards before exiting the game in the first quarter with a broken collarbone. Later on in the game, he visible on the CMU sidelines sporting a sling and wearing street clothes.
Tipton, meanwhile, left the game after CMU’s third drive of the game with a broke ankle. He did not return.
Both are out indefinitely, CMU confirmed.
CMU fell behind 7-0 early when a punt attempt was blocked by a Michigan defender and returned 29 yards by senior receiver Joe Reynolds. The Chippewas went three-and-out on their next possession, but the offense returned to the field after Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner’s second pass was intercepted by junior safety Jarret Chapman.
Looking to capitalize, the Chippewas were forced to settle for a field goal after a fourth-and-goal attempt from the 1-yard line was wasted with a delay of game penalty.
Early in the second quarter, after falling behind 21-3, the Alex Niznak-led offense marched CMU down to Michigan’s 28-yard line before the drive was stalled on a pair of incomplete passes and illegal-shift penalty.
Niznak, who played every snap after Kater left, finished 11-for-22 for 131 yards. CMU went three-and-out three times during the third quarter, but had a few nice passes to sophomore Andrew Flory in the fourth quarter (one, a 10-yard pass, resulting a fumble).
Establishing an efficient run-game was considered crucial if the Chippewas wanted to stay close with Michigan, and after Tipton left — besides one effective series from sophomore Saylor Lavallii — it was all downhill. Michigan out-gained CMU, 463-210, including 242-66 on the ground.
Michigan, led by superstar quarterback Devin Gardner, boasted a truly balanced offense. The Wolverines had three rushers total more than 50 yards on the ground, while four receivers — Gardner and freshman quarterback Shane Morris combined for 221 yards throwing — caught for more than 40 yards.
CMU (0-1) hosts New Hampshire, preseason ranked No. 7 in the Football Championship Subdivision, next Saturday in its home-opener at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.