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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 6 Game Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs Central Michigan Chippewas

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Ohio (1-4. 1-0) hosts Central Michigan (2-3, 0-1) on homecoming in this cross-division battle.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes

  • Time and Date: Saturday, October 9th at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time
  • Network: ESPN + (A valid subscription is required for viewing.)
  • Radio/Internet: Coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Ohio: Stretch Portal at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/ohio/
  • CMU: CMU Sports Property Radio Network at https://cmuchippewas.com/coverage
  • Location: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 77 degrees, evening shower possible
  • Line: CMU (-5) per ESPN Pick Center
  • Series History: CMU leads the series 26-5-2
  • Last Meeting: CMU 30-27, November 4, 2020

Ohio Bobcats

The ‘Cats head into this homecoming contest versus CMU coming off their best performance of the year, where they dominated the trenches, holding Akron to 17 points on 333 total yards, with only 112 net rushing yards, while rushing for almost 400 yards with a season-high 34 points.

Against the Chips, Ohio will look to establish the run while hitting some explosive plays in the pass game, and they have the kind of players to do just that.

Ohio features two All-MAC-caliber runners in De’Montre Tuggle, who rushed for 201 yards last week, and O’Shaan Allison, who does everything well, from rushing, to receiving, and pass blocking.

Also, Ohio’s reserve QB Armani Rogers, who rushed for 108 yards and two scores last week, will get some series as he splits duties with starting QB Kurtis Rourke.

With Ohio looking to run, we should learn more about CMU’s rushing defense. While CMU enters the game ranked 28th in the FBS in rushing yards with 108 per contest, how much of that success is the run defense and how much is due to the fact Chips opponents have attacked through the air, where CMU is ranked 118th vs the pass with 292 yards allowed per contest?

Ohio’s QB Kurtis Rourke will be in the mix to lead the passing attack against the Chips and has the tools and resources to implement the blueprint for success against CMU’s defense laid out by Miami’s QBs last week: hit some explosive pass plays down the sidelines against man coverage and scramble for some key first downs.

When it comes to explosive plays, Ohio has some proven wide receivers who can make a difference in Isiah Cox, Jerome Buckner, and Cam Odom. Also, with some receivers unavailable in non-conference, Ty Walton stepped up and showed he has what it takes to make things happen, with 196 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Whatever Ohio is going to do in the passing game, they will need to know where 2020 first team All-MAC performer Troy Hairston II is at all times, as Hairston destroyed the ‘Cats line last year with seven tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble.


Central Michigan Chippewas

The Chippewas head into this one coming off a 28-17 loss to Miami, still looking to establish a starter at quarterback. Jacob Sirmon got most of the early season reps until a stagnant offense versus FIU resulted in a change to back up QB Daniel Richardson, who passed for three fourth quarter scores in route to a 31-27 victory.

Based on his success versus FIU, Richardson got the start and lit up the Miami defense at times, passing for 326 yards and two scores. Unfortunately, Richardson suffered a shoulder injury late in the contest versus Miami and his status for this week is questionable.

Whichever QB plays this week versus Ohio or going forward, he will have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.

CMU features one of the best WR corps in the conference, led by Dallas Dixon, JaCorey Sullivan, and Kalil Pimpleton, who combined for 246 yards and two scores last week.

The matchup between CMU’s wideouts and Ohio’s defensive backs should be a good one as Ohio has a good group of starters on the outside, led by CB Jamal Hudson, who is one of the best cover guys in the conference.

What Ohio’s pass defense is fully capable of as a whole is still unknown as opponents’ success on the ground has almost eliminated the need to throw in some games.

With Ohio coming into the game ranked 127th in the FBS in rushing yards allowed at 250 per contest, CMU will figure to test the ‘Cats run defense.

The Chips come into this with a bad taste in their mouth after Miami shut down what is normally a solid rushing attack, holding CMU to a paltry 1.9 yards per carry on 27 attempts. Look for CMU to try to get 2020 MAC Freshman of the Year RB Lew Nichols III back on track against an Ohio defense that has been vulnerable against the run so far.


Prediction

The game is evenly matched in this one and it could go either way but to win, Ohio figures to have to take CMU’s best shot as the Chips face tough competition in the MAC West and can’t afford to fall to 0-2 if they hope to win the division title.

Ohio will be buoyed by a homecoming crowed and riding high off a dominant second half against Akron. Ohio is young on parts of the offensive lines and defense and the type of confidence boost they got after last week’s performance might help them take their games to the next level. With just five wins in 33 games versus the Chips, Ohio is long past due in getting back in this series. ‘Cats +5.