Staff predictions: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Matt Thompson, senior reporter (7-5)

The Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews will start out running hard as the Hilltoppers take an early lead. But turnovers have hurt them recently, losing three of their final four games, and they've failed to close out games by losing late leads. I think Ryan Radcliff and the rest of the CMU seniors go out in style with a comeback victory in front of a big Chippewas crowd at Ford Field. Prediction: Central Michigan 34, Western Kentucky 32.

Justin Hicks, outgoing sports editor (7-5)

The Chippewas are riding a three-game win streak, while the Hilltoppers lost three of their last four, so momentum is definitely in CMU's favor. But the break leading up to the game at Ford Field is going to even the playing field, and I expect WKU's offense, led by Antonio Andrews and Kawaun Jakes, is going to prevail in this game. WKU did play a weaker schedule than CMU, but its prolific rushing offense is going to open up the pass for Jakes, and I expect a high-scoring game in favor of the Hilltoppers. Prediction: Western Kentucky 42, Central Michigan 31

Ryan Zuke, staff reporter (7-5)

CMU did what it had to do to become bowl-eligible, winning its last three games.  But still, the record of the teams it beat this season is a dreadful 15-53.  I don’t think Western Kentucky is a much better team, but it did have a tougher schedule and better record (7-5).  The Chippewas might have home-field advantage, playing much closer to home, but I don’t think it will play a big enough factor to lead them to victory.  Running back Antonio Anthony, the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards, will be cause too many problems for the CMU defense.  Prediction: WKU 38 CMU 31

Brandon Champion, staff reporter (8-4)

The Chippewas and the Hilltoppers come into the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in very different fashions. CMU has won three in a row, while WKU has lost four of six. Both teams rely on their running backs, Antonio Andrews for the Hilltoppers and Zurlon Tipton for the Chippewas. I think both will have big days, as will CMU quarterback Ryan Radcliff in his final collegiate game. That being said, it will be the Chippewas defense that makes the difference, with a key turnover late in the game allowing CMU to win its second-straight bowl game. Prediction: Central Michigan 35, Western Kentucky 24

Kristopher Lodes, incoming sports editor 

The Hilltoppers will bring strong fan support along with their strong running attack. The Chippewas will bring the fans as well, but this is fan base that I don't feel is 100-percent behind this team, as many don't feel CMU is deserving of this bid. WKU's strong offense will be too much for CMU, as the offense will not be able to keep up. The Hilltoppers get a win in their first ever bowl game. Prediction : Western Kentucky 40, Central Michigan 27

 Aaron McMann, incoming editor-in-chief

A strong rushing game from Antonio Andrews and a large, boisterous Western Kentucky following will propel the Hilltoppers to a win in their first bowl appearance in program history. I think it will be close, it is the last game for seniors Ryan Radcliff and Cody Wilson, but CMU just hasn't been able to beat a decent team this season. Prediction: Western Kentucky 31, Central Michigan 28


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