CMU football: Chippewas don't back down from first road test
DEKALB, Ill. -- Earning a road win is never easy.
Central Michigan showed in the first 30 minutes of Wednesday’s Mid-American Conference showdown against Northern Illinois just how much of a challenge playing away from home can be. Even with early struggles, the Chippewas improved to 2-0 with a 40-10 flooring of the Huskies (0-2).
Here are three takeaways from the Chippewas biggest challenge of the 2020 campaign so far.
SLOW START IGNITES THIRD QUARTER DOMINANCE
Like a diesel engine, CMU’s offense took a little time to start up and fire on all cylinders after halftime.
The CMU defense appeared to have little to no real issues throughout the game. The Chippewa offensive line, on the other hand, had its hands full all night. The Huskies gave CMU all it could handle for the game’s opening 30 minutes, holding the Chippewas to 41 rushing yards in the first half, all coming in the opening 15 minutes while going 0-for-7 on third down in the first half.
Once the offense found its groove in the second half however, the Chippewas rolled Northern Illinois 17-0 in the third quarter alone. CMU earned six first downs, 108 yards rushing and possessed the ball for 10:46. The Chippewas finished 1-of-4 on third down in the third quarter and never reached a third down in the final stanza.
Give credit to everyone on the offensive side of the ball for making the proper halftime adjustments and executing in the second half. My game ball this week goes to redshirt freshman running back Lew Nichols. The Detroit Cass Tech alumnus earned his first career touchdown to go with 91 yards net rushing off 12 carries, seemingly easing the load of bell cow running back Kobe Lewis.
Being near the CMU sidelines revealed something special about the 2020 squad. There is a special element to this team that I’ve yet to see during my time at CMU.
The chemistry on this year's team is on a different level in the best way imaginable. This is not just a regular football team; this is truly a band of brothers.
When things went right everyone had a sense of pride and accomplishment. When things were not going as planned, there was no panic, no finger pointing, but positivity and belief amongst one another.
When redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Richardson threw his 58-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Dallas Dixon in the first quarter it was not just a touchdown by both men, it was a CMU touchdown. When sophomore safety Willie Reid recovered a fumble off a NIU kick return it was not just a successful play for Reid, it was success for the Chippewas.
There is an analogy to describe this mentality that I believe fits this CMU team; When one man eats, everyone eats.
This team knows what there capable of achieving in 2020. The sky is the limit for the Chippewas if they play to their expectations.
WESTERN WEEKEND HAS ARRIVED
I honestly never thought I would be able to say this a few months ago, but it is officially Western week.
CMU hosts rival Western Michigan on Nov. 18 in what is sure to be one of the most memorable and unique of the 90 previous meetings. Both teams enter with a flawless 2-0 record and are in full control of there paths for a Mid-American Conference West Division title.
A win for the Chippewas would be monumental. Not only have the Broncos won the past two meetings and seven of the last 10, but CMU has failed to knock off the Broncos in Kelly/Shorts stadium in their last four tilts in Mount Pleasant, last winning 26-22 during the 2010 campaign behind Cody Wilson’s 185 yards receiving. WMU also took last season's battle 31-15.
Keeping eyes glued on this year's game will be easy to do. The Chippewas and Broncos are battling for state supremacy and an edge in the division race will make for one of the more interesting games in the storied rivalry.