FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (45,000) — Mount Pleasant,
Michigan. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Miami-Ohio 2-3, Central Michigan
2-2. Away Record: Miami-Ohio 0-5, Central Michigan 4-2. Neutral Record: Miami-
Ohio 0-0, Central Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Miami-Ohio 2-4, Central
Michigan 4-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 12-12-1.
GAME NOTES: Each coming off a bye week, the Miami-Ohio RedHawks and Central
Michigan Chippewas will clash in a Mid-American Conference battle at
Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Saturday.
Miami last took the field on Nov. 1 against Western Michigan, which turned
into a one-sided rout for the visiting Broncos, 41-10. The RedHawks had
previously beaten Kent State for the team’s second victory of the season, just
one year removed from a winless 2013 campaign.
Central Michigan is on a bit of a hot streak, having won two games in a row
and four of the team’s last five games in all. The Chippewas were last in
action on Nov. 1 also, and easily handled in-state rival Eastern Michigan,
The all-time series between these two conference rivals is all knotted up at
12 games apiece, with one tie thrown in. The series began back in the 1978
campaign, and was continued as recently as last season (CMU won, 21-9, in
Miami wasn’t totally out of the game against Western Michigan by the time the
teams headed for the locker rooms at halftime. The RedHawks trailed, 24-10,
but an extremely slow second half turned things even more in WMU’s favor. The
RedHawks were shut out in the second 30 minutes, and allowed Broncos tailback
Jarvion Franklin to run free.
Miami’s offense this season centers around transfer quarterback Andrew
Hendrix, who has tossed 20 touchdown passes against eight interceptions and
has rushed for a team-high five touchdowns. The lack of a real running threat
has made the RedHawks fairly one-dimensional, although Hendrix has been adept
with his feet. He’s helped a Miami offense that went from obscurity last
season turn into one that averages 22 ppg and 371.6 offensive ypg.
Dawan Scott is a nice dual-threat receiver/running back who leads the team
with 301 yards on the ground this season. In Hendrix’s arsenal, he has six
receivers who have all caught at least two touchdowns, led by Sam Martin (five
receiving scores) and David Frazier (813 yards, four touchdowns).
Defense has certainly been an issue at times for the RedHawks this season,
especially against teams that feature notable skills position players like
Western Michigan. The Broncos were able to unleash Franklin for 183 yards and
three touchdowns, which should have Central Michigan back Saylor Lavallii
licking his chops. The RedHawks defense is allowing 32.4 ppg to opponents
through 10 games played.
Jarrell Jones is the team’s leader in tackles this season with 75, having
added two pass breakups and a team high-tying three fumble recoveries.
Defensive linemen Bryson Albright (6.5 tackles for loss, five sacks) and
J’Terius Jones (7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks) will be trying to get after
CMU quarterback Cooper Rush, who has been known to make mistakes from time to
Speaking of Central Michigan’s offense, the Chippewas were able to extinguish
any hope Eastern Michigan had of a win last time out by dominating with a
powerful ground game. CMU hasn’t had star running back Thomas Rawls for
several weeks now, but Lavallii and Devon Spalding each were on point against
the Eagles, gaining over 100 yards apiece and scoring four combined touchdowns
Central Michigan’s offense is significantly boosted with an effective run
game, which averages 162.5 ypg on the ground currently headed by Lavallii.
Rawls was one of the top statistical tailbacks in the nation before several
off-field issues set him back. Regardless of whether he’s in the lineup, the
Chippewas will run the football.
But the RedHawks will have to be very mindful of the CMU passing game, which
is led by Rush (15 passing touchdowns matches his total from last season
already) and top receiver Titus Davis (653 yards, six touchdowns). Rush has
developed a nice rapport with Davis and Jesse Kroll, who have combined to
catch 10 of Rush’s 15 touchdown tosses this season.
What started out as a slow season for the Central Michigan defense has picked
up significantly over the past few weeks. In the team’s last four wins,
Central Michigan hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points in a
single game, holding Buffalo and EMU to a combined 21 points in the Chippewas’
most recent two outings. Opponents are averaging just 21.9 ppg (tied for 27th
in the FBS) and 314.1 offensive ypg (12th in the FBS).
Linebacker Justin Cherocci has stepped up big time for the Chippewas this
season as not only a statistical machine, but a defensive leader. The senior
has registered 92 tackles and five tackles for loss with a forced fumble, a
fumble recovery and two sacks with a team-best 44 solo stops. In the
backfield, Tony Annese and Brandon Greer (three interceptions apiece) will be
looking to shut down Hendrix and Miami’s passing offense this weekend.
Although Miami’s offense has come along nicely as the season has gone on, the
RedHawks still are having difficulty winning games against opponents with
winning records. Central Michigan not only gets the home advantage, but will
be looking to close the gap in the MAC West Division in an attempt to reach
the conference title game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 32, Miami-Ohio 20