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November 23, 2012

Staff predictions: CMU-UMass

Corey Dull, Staff Writer

Central Michigan heads into Gillette Stadium on Friday for an opportunity to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2009. The Chippewas will be taking on UMass (1-10, 1-6 MAC). CMU is coming off a big 30-16 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Senior Day at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Zurlon Tipton eclipsed the 100 mark yet again for the Chippewas with 113 yards and two touchdowns. True freshman Saylor Lavallii also received the most carries (8) of his season and made the most of them (68 yards, one touchdown). The Chippewas made some key fourth down stands and forced four RedHawk turnovers in the game as well.

I think this will be what every Central fan has been waiting on for a long time: a bowl berth. Quite frankly, I don't think it will be close.

Prediction: Central Michigan 31, UMass 10

Jeff Horodeczny, Staff Writer

The Chippewas leave the state of Michigan for the first time since October 6 to face UMass in the regular season finale. CMU is looking to become bowl eligible with their sixth win and have the possibility of finishing the regular season with a three game win streak. Even though they only have one win, UMass has played better of late, but so has CMU. UMass will be starting a new quarterback this week in true freshmen A.J. Doyle. In last week's game starting quarterback Mike Wegzyn threw two late interceptions against Buffalo, so head coach Charley Molnar decided this week to give Doyle his first career start. Look for the CMU defense to blitz early to rattle the young quarterback and to force turnovers. Offensively, I expect CMU to give the ball to Zurlon Tipton as the CMU coaches will look to wear down the undersized UMass defense. The two main keys for CMU will be the red zone defense and continuing to have a strong run game. I expect the Chippewa players to come in focused and fired up for this one. The experience, playmakers and the motivation to win this game should be enough for the Chippewa's to open the possibility of playing one more.

Prediction: Central Michigan 28, UMass 14

Steve Livingston, Publisher

Central Michigan heads into their last game of the regular season against the UMass Minutemen with an opportunity to get to a .500 record for the season and become bowl eligible. With the NCAA considering options if they are not enough 6-6 bowl teams, there is a very good chance for CMU to get a bowl invite if they take care of business on Friday afternoon. That being said, a loss to UMass would be a bigger letdown than any of the previous losses this season. The Minutemen might not be the worst team in the MAC, but that is only because they beat Akron to avoid that dubious distinction. Their team stats are pretty awful. UMass is last in the FBS in team passer rating and they are starting a relatively new quarterback in A.J. Doyle, but Doyle has seen spot duty this fall and has not been impressive to this point. The Minutemen are also No. 118 in yards-per-rush, despite having former Michigan back Mike Cox as their starting running back. Defensively, they are 115th in yards-per-carry allowed and are No. 108 in opponent's passer rating.

Unless the Chippewas have some serious turnover issues in this game or A.J. Doyle suddenly becomes a good quarterback, CMU really should have no issue winning this game comfortably. The game is on the road and UMass has shown some fight at different points this season, keeping it close against Ohio and Miami (Ohio), but the Chippewas are clearly the better team and have more to play for, with an opportunity to extend their season for a few more weeks. Tipton should get over 100 yards on the ground for a sixth straight game, Radcliff will play efficient in the passing game and the defense should keep the Minutemen from lighting up the scoreboard. CMU becomes bowl eligible for the first under Dan Enos.

Prediction: Central Michigan 38, UMass 20

Tyler Parsons, Publisher

Central Michigan has everything to play for, and UMass really has nothing to play for. It's really that simple.

This should be a pretty easy win for CMU, and if they make it look convincing they can leave a lasting impression on any bowl committees. The Chippewas are fired up (no pun intended), and a 6-6 season is staring them in the face after a 3-6 start. This is a chance for a building block in the program, despite what many Dan Enos critics will say. I fully expect CMU to go out and handle their business, and it will be up to the bowl system to determine whether this team plays another game this season.

Prediction: Central Michigan 34, UMass 17

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