Central Michigan was able to squeak out a victory over Eastern Michigan last week to keep their slim bowl hopes alive. This week that quest continues as the Chippewas host Miami (OH) in their last home game of the season. Both teams come in a 4-6 overall, and the game is essentially a bowl game eliminator.
Both teams are remarkably similar, and they each feature a "Huh?" win (CMU over Iowa, Miami over Ohio). To say there is a ton at stake for Dan Enos and his program would be an understatement, and a victory puts only a one win UMass team in front of .500 season. Let's dive into the Five Keys for today's game.
1) Senior Day Step-Up
It's the last home game of the season, which means it is also Senior Day and the last time many will play in front of their home crowd at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. It goes without saying that a victory would leave a much sweeter taste in the mouths of the 2012 senior class, and it would be especially memorable to right the ship after back to back 3-9 seasons. Today offers players such as Ryan Radcliff, Jahleel Addae, Eric Fisher, Cody Wilson and Darren Keyton a chance to cement their legacies and leave their home turf on a high note.
2) The Return of Radcliff's Rule of 35
Take a look at these numbers: 23, 35, 25 and 34. What do they mean? They are the number of pass attempts that Radcliff has attempted in CMU's four wins this season. As previously mentioned in Five Keys, the Chippewas have never won a game in which Radcliff attempted more than 35 passes. That spans all three of his years as a starter.
Coincidentally, he was right at the "Radcliff Line" last week in the win over Eastern Michigan with 34 attempts. CMU is built to be balanced, and generally when Radcliff is chucking the ball all over the field, they are fighting back from a deficit.
3) They Are Who We Thought They Are
The line uttered by former NFL head coach Dennis Green relates in this case to the Miami Redhawks season. Statistically speaking, about the only thing they do better than CMU is throw for more yards on offense. Other than that, the two teams are either equal or favor the Chippewas in most categories. To add icing on the cake, Miami struggles to run the football and protect the passer, arguably the two worst things CMU does defensively. If that plays out, CMU should be able to make the Redhawks one dimensional like they did Akron, and at the very least they can mix coverages up and create turnovers.
On the flip side, Miami ranks right between UMass and Eastern Michigan in total defense, which is a pretty clear indication that they have struggled. Their defense has surrendered point totals of 56, 49, 52 and 48 this season, and CMU should have no problem moving the football.
4) Disrupt Dysert
For all of the Redhawks troubles this season, they still boast one of the best quarterbacks in the MAC. Zac Dysert has thrown for 2,922 yards and 22 TD's this season, and he is completing an impressive 63% of this passes. That said, he is often their only form of offense, and he has a propensity to force passes as his 11 interceptions show. Since the Akron game, CMU has become more aggressive on defense with their blitzes and coverage. The hope is that while they will give up some big plays, they can also force turnovers and flip the field. In fact, they have forced (4) interceptions the last three games, after forcing just (4) in the previous seven. Dysert will more than likely get his yards, but the Chippewas must make sure they come with a price.
5) Familiar Faces
That would be a reference to CMU head coach Dan Enos and Miami (OH) head coach Don Treadwell. They have spent plenty of time with each other over the years, as the both served on staffs at Cincinnati and Michigan State before becoming head coaches in the MAC. They are good friends and are familiar with each other on the football field. They both also need this win, as Treadwell comes in at 8-14 overall and Enos at 10-24. It will be interesting to see how their chess match plays out during the game, and whether their time together as offensive minds has led to predictability.
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