What you have here is two teams virtually out of it in their respective MAC divisions. Central Michigan layeth lonely in last place in the MAC West (2-3), two losses behind three teams. That's a tough hill to overcome in November. Kent State ... well, you have to think they have no shot to matter in the division, although a win here would bring them to 2-3 and tied for fourth with BGSU, who they beat. So essentially fourth, behind Temple/OHIO/Miami. That still seems too deep of a crevasse to trespass.
But both of these teams are now looking to scout their current potential for 2012, sadly. Yes, it's already time to see what they can shake into a positive for next season.
Kent State put up a blustering 27 points against Bowling Green last week, which is essentially like 54 points for anyone else. What we'll want to see is if that may happen again, or if they caught lightning in a mason jar against a spotty BG defense. The Chippewas are a bit worse statistically than the Falcons when defending the ball. But for the first time against an FBS squad they put up more than 250 yards or 12 points. It was a banner day, and on their home turf let's see if any young playmakers can arise. Y'know, for next year's preview.
What made the Miami-Akron game so unwatchable last night was the 28-0 score at halftime. Needless to say, Akron could only exit on a whimper, scoring just three points in the entire game. If CMU pounces on the Flashes early in this one, let us remember that Central allows just 12.0 points in the first half, but an alarming 20.1 in the second half. They famously blew a 17-point advantage against Ball State in the third quarter, held on for a one-point win at Akron despite a 20-0 lead, and saw an 18-point lead drained against NIU in the third quarter but still held on by seven. They also led against Kentucky at halftime, and that didn't turn out so well.
We know some of that sweet, sweet KSU defense is going to be there, led by the presidential Roosevelt Nix and linebacker C.J. Malauulu. Their run defense has allowed fewer than 100 yards per game in the conference. Even after facing the likes of Kansas State and Alabama they're still ranked 36th nationally. They're number one in takeaways (22) and have registered eight sacks in their last two games.
The one thing they're not great against is the pass, but they hold their own. It's really CMU's only option — throw over that defensive line. Ryan Radcliff is second in the MAC in yards per game, but he's not wholly accurate and doesn't have a standout receiver to lean on. David Blackburn and Cody Wilson are going to be his main targets, though. On the reverse pass defense, you might see Jahleel Addae have a big game, as his four interceptions are tops in the conference. John Carr also has nine pass breakups, which is tied for third best.
On the whole this one may not be exciting from the onset, but given the dynamics of both teams it could be a harrowing fourth quarter. If I was paid to pimp the MAC I'd say watch the whole thing, but the cold truth is just to wait for our signal, then find your clicker and get thee to ESPN2 on the double.