It was of knowledge to those who looked at how the football schedule was constructed that Central Michigan’s game against UNLV would tip the season in one direction or another.
The result would be the difference between a season that ended with a bowl game and one without.
But now, with a loss against UNLV on Saturday and injuries to key players in previous games, things appear even bleaker than a bowl-less season.
The team will have to scrape and claw to show it is any better than it was in head coach Dan Enos’ first two seasons at CMU.
It is comical, because three wins are all but guaranteed to secure another 3-9 season.
The Chippewas face two teams in UMASS and Eastern Michigan, which are at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference, at Kelly/Shorts Stadium at the end of the season when quarterback Cooper Rush’s skills are honed or Cody Kater returns.
But the fourth will be difficult to come by, because two beatable teams they play, Western Michigan and Miami, are on the road.
It goes without saying, but CMU is not keeping up with the finely-tuned offenses of Northern Illinois and Toledo, even at home.
And what about the games at North Carolina State, Ohio and Ball State? Loss, loss and another loss.
So CMU followers should buckle up; it is going to be a bumpy ride.
That’s not what you thought it was going to be after CMU took a 21-0 lead? Well, too bad. The first quarter and a half of the game was a mirage.
CMU was winning the matchup of its defense against UNLV’s offense only because the Rebels were shooting themselves in the foot.
And do not ask how the Rebels were letting the Chippewas get away with the dink and dunk philosophy for the passing game, which resulted in 21 points.
I guess all that matters for the Rebels is they adjusted at halftime and CMU decided to not open it up enough when Rush found a rhythm.
As a result, UNLV was waiting to make the tackle on seemingly every play with no need to worry itself with deep passes.
There was a screen called on third down at one point in the second half and it was as if the Rebels knew the call was coming, making a hit the second there was an attempt at a catch.
Rush was in the middle of the madness, completing only four of nine passes for 16 yards in the third. He finished with two interceptions, while completing 23 of 46 passes for 265 yards.
But do not fret about him, for he is only a freshman and he still showed glimpses of what he might do in the future, tallying 181 yards on 14 completions out of 22 passes in the first two quarters.
It is those who have been in the situation many times before who should be of concern, such as the players who are in their third or fourth season in Enos’ system and the coaches, with yet another three-win season on the horizon.