The Central Michigan Chippewas head down south this weekend to take on a new look NC State Wolfpack team for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. Last week the Chippewas fell 38-17 to the Toledo Rockets in a game that was full of CMU mistakes. The team's season has been an up and down roller coaster, with plenty of frustrations, but a win on the road could be enough to right the ship.
The Chippewas have been plagued by injuries this season, and have struggled to find an identity. Saylor Lavallii has stepped adequately at running back for Zurlon Tipton, but in the search to replace quarterback Cody Kater, the Chips have had less luck. Alex Niznak was awful against New Hampshire and Cooper Rush won them the game after replacing Niznak. But in two games since Rush has struggled, turning the ball over six times, including four total turnovers a week ago.
Against an NC State team headed up by first year coach Dave Doeren (who led the NIU Huskies to another MAC Championship last season before leaving for NC State before the Orange Bowl) Rush will need to limit those turnovers to keep CMU in the game. Two weeks ago, against the No. 3 team in the country, the Wolfpack put up a decent fight, losing by just 12.
But good news for the Chips, NC State isn't an ACC powerhouse, but the defense has found some success. The Wolfpack are allowing 350 yards per game, 42nd in the nation, but have held opponents to 110 yards per game on the ground, 26th in the country. That doesn't bode well for Rush, who has struggled with forcing things when his offense becomes one-dimensional.
On the defensive side of things the Chippewas still enter the game reeling. They've allowed nearly 420 yards and more than 37 points per game. Despite the limited success, CMU is going up against a struggling offense. NC State quarterback Pete Thomas (four interceptions to zero touchdowns) hasn't found much success, and the Wolfpack are in the bottom half of the FBS in terms of scoring. They have found success running the ball, which doesn't look good for a CMU rush defense which is 95th in the country.
The Chippewas have a shot of coming out victorious, but will need a complete game from everyone to do so. If Rush can continue to make plays, and CMU opens its running game up some, the Chips could pull out a tough road win. But the defense will need to limit scoring, and Rush will need to limit turnovers, or this one could be another frustrating and ugly loss for CMU.