Petzold: How Chippewas will go 6-6 this season, game-by-game


Central Michigan Life sports editor Evan Petzold breaks down the 2019 schedule for the Chippewas.

Aug. 29 vs. Albany

My prediction: Win

CMU 31, UA 10

Albany hasn't had a winning season since 2016, but that occurred the same year the Great Danes took down Mid-American Conference opponent Buffalo, 22-16, on the road.

Will Albany do it against Central Michigan at Kelly/Shorts Stadium? No. 

Last season, the Great Danes were smoked, 28-9, by Maine, the Chippewas' only win in 2018. Don't expect CMU coach Jim McElwain to struggle in his debut.

It won't be pretty for redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler.

Sept. 7 at Wisconsin

My prediction: Loss

UW 28, CMU 13

Yahoo! Sports recently published a story about how Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor could be one of the best running backs the NCAA has ever seen.

That's exactly why the Chippewas don't stand a chance.

The Badgers aren't a team that's going to dominate all facets of the offense and post 50-plus points. However, Taylor alone is enough to give Wisconsin a comfortable lead early and coast to the finish.

Sept. 14 vs. Akron

My prediction: Win

CMU 24, AKRN 10

The Zips are under new tutelage after the firing of Terry Bowden after a 4-8 overall record and 2-6 mark in the conference.

It's time for Tom Arth to run the show, but it might take a little time.

Even though Kato Nelson is returning after a year where he went for 2,151 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions, he's got work to do. More often than not, Nelson has flashy moments but can be seemingly inconsistent. 

That's exactly what will happen against CMU, earning the Chippewas a home win.

Sept. 21 at Miami (FL)

My prediction: Loss

UM 49, CMU 10

Dan Enos gets a crack at his old squad as the offensive coordinator for Miami. He spent 2010-14 as the head coach of the Chippewas, compiling a 26-36 record.

His offense features a first-year starting quarterback in Jarren Williams. There are inexperienced players on the line, but it's a talented ACC program.

With Williams at quarterback, K.J. Osborn (Buffalo transfer) at wide receiver and backup quarterback Tate Martell being used in a slot receiver spot for the time being, there will be too much offense for the CMU defense to compete with. Expect this one to get ugly – fast.

Sept. 28 at Western Michigan

My prediction: Loss

WMU 17, CMU 13

Besides losing wide receivers Jayden Reed and Keishawn Watson, Western Michigan returns most starters on both sides of the ball. The key is starting quarterback Jon Wassink's health.

With Wassink's expertise and another year under coach Tim Lester, the Broncos should take this one at Waldo Stadium. But, it's always a toss-up in rivalry games.

Oct. 5 vs. Eastern Michigan

My prediction: Win

CMU 28, EMU 24

Senior quarterback Mike Glass II and running back Shaq Vann are back for the Eagles, and the offensive weapons are going to keep the Chippewas battle tested throughout the game.

Last year's starter, graduate transfer Tyler Wiegers, isn't around anymore, meaning Eastern Michigan is without a true passing quarterback. That'll be enough for CMU's defensive line to focus on the run game, earning a home victory.

Oct. 12 vs. New Mexico State

My prediction: Win

CMU 21, NMSU 9

The Aggies traditionally struggle to keep their quarterback protected, so the CMU defensive line will likely have a field day. Even though Josh Adkins is a veteran quarterback, if he doesn't get help from his offensive line, this contest will be a nightmare for New Mexico State.

That's exactly what's going to happen, allowing Dormady and the offense to open things up early and rely on the defense for a victory.

Oct. 19 at Bowling Green

My prediction: Win

CMU 21, BGSU 13

Bowling Green lost two-year starting quarterback Jarrett Doege to West Virginia, and fellow offensive threat Scotty Miller, a wide receiver, was selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Falcons also lost former coach Mike Jinks, who was fired.

However, the team returns running back Andrew Clair, who was a 2017 and 2018 Third Team All-MAC selection.

The defensive was poor a season ago and there isn't a proven quarterback. With the experience the Chippewas have on offense, chalk this one up as a win for McElwain.

Oct. 26 at Buffalo

My prediction: Loss

UB 31, CMU 20

A season ago, Buffalo rattled off its best season in program history but lost three of its last four games. Quarterback Tyree Jackson is gone. Top wide receiver Anthony Johnson and linebacker Khalil Hodge have also departed.

Even though Jackson won't be able to torch MAC defenses like in the past, there's still redshirt sophomore Kyle Vantrease. He's expected to take over and should fit nicely with superstar running back Jaret Patterson.

The Chippewas will keep this game close until late in the fourth quarter but, eventually, lose out. Remember, Buffalo wasn't a 10-win team based on Jackson's performance alone. Other players were key, and some of them are back.

Nov. 2 vs. Northern Illinois

My prediction: Loss

NIU 20, CMU 16

A complete overhaul in coaching and the departure of a top defensive player in the country give Northern Illinois a new look this year. Thomas Hammock takes over as coach after coming from a running backs coach position for the last five years with the Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive end Sutton Smith was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and he stole all the headlines. However, senior linebacker Antonio Jones-Davies led the team in tackles in 2018, while fellow starting linebacker Kyle Pugh is also returning. On offense, running back Tre Harbison is back for his junior season.

The quarterback status remains unknown, but it'll be either junior Marcus Childers or graduate transfer Ross Bowers, who started 12 games at California in 2017.

There are enough options on offense to hand Northern Illinois a close win on the road.

Nov. 16 at Ball State

My prediction: Win

CMU 28, BSU 6

What feels like everything Ball State had from a year ago is now gone. Quarterback Riley Neal left for Vanderbilt and running back James Gilbert transferred to Kansas State.

Replacing those two will likely be junior quarterback Drew Plitt, who saw a majority of the time in 2018 after Neal's injury. At running back, it'll be Division II graduate transfer Walter Fletcher, from Edinboro, along with returners Caleb Huntley and Markice Hurt.

Losing Neal and Gilbert is too much for the Cardinals, and it'll likely make for an unpleasant overall record once the season ends. 

Central shouldn't have any issues, even on the road.

Nov. 29 vs. Toledo

My prediction: Loss

UT 31, CMU 21

Central Michigan hasn't taken down Toledo since Butch Jones came out on top, 56-28, in 2009 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. That's right, it's been nine straight wins for the Rockets from 2010-18. 

Make it 10-straight, and the Chippewas finish the regular season with a 6-6 record and 4-4 mark in MAC play.