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Central Michigan suddenly contenders for the West

With a strong first conference win against the reigning MAC champs Northern Illinois, the Chips have their eyes set on the MAC West title.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After a 29-19 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies, the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-3, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) have a better chance to win the MAC West than predicted.

Cooper Rush has been able to pass the Chips to victory. Already this season, Rush has attempted 198 passes and completed 132 of them for a solid 67 completion percentage. All those passes make up 1,450 yards of passing so far this season, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions on the season through five games, making Rush one of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks.

One glaring downside to the CMU offense is its rushing attack: averaging only 80 yards per game. Devon Spalding suffered a hand injury last week, Martez Walker was home due to family concerns, but Jahray Hayes was able to carry the load for the Chips. Hayes had over 2,000 yards in two years at City College of San Francisco and is known for being a power back with a good second gear. He could be the shot in the arm the rushing attack needs.

Next stop for the Chippewas goes through their rival, the Western Michigan Broncos. The Broncos (1-3, 0-0 MAC)  have been inconsistent so far this season, but have faced a very tough schedule with losses to Georgia Southern, Michigan State and Ohio State.

The rest of the schedule after the Battle for the Victory Cannon looks favorable as well, with CMU playing Buffalo, Toledo, and Eastern Michigan at home, while playing Akron, Ball State, and Kent State on the road. All the games are very winnable, given the Chips' momentum and the fact that every team save No. 24 Toledo currently holds a losing record.

The game against the Toledo Rockets takes place on Tuesday, November 10. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2. This will be a crucial game for the Chips, as that looks to be the toughest opponent, besides the Broncos, on the remaining schedule. The fact that the game will be at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, combined with Toledo's propensity for choking down the stretch on the road, could bode well for Central. This game could possibly decide who will go the MAC Championship game in Ford Field.

The Chippewas have started off the MAC season in a bombastic way. When you take into account the film, stats, and their projected schedule, the Chippewas could very well play their way into the MAC Championship game.