Staff Predictions: CMU-UNLV

Corey Dull, Staff WriterThe Chippewas head to the west coast to play UNLV Saturday night. After coming from behind to beat New Hampshire last weekend, 24-21, the Chippewas will try to use the momentum from the performance that Cooper Rush had last weekend. Rush threw the ball for 326 yards and three touchdown, with no interceptions against UNH. Titus Davis should also continue to flourish, having established a good report with Rush.
UNLV has lost by a combined 77 points in their first two games this season, including a 45-point blowout loss at home last week to Arizona. The Rebels are about a touchdown favorite and I don't think they cover. With a more comfortable offense and everyone on the same page, the Chippewas will win the game on what Dan Enos called a "business trip."
Prediction: Central Michigan 31, UNLV 27
Jeff Horodeczny, Staff Writer
The Chippewas head out West for the first time since 2000 looking to improve to 2-1 against the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV. Last weekend, CMU put things together after halftime, defeating a tough New Hampshire team. After a slow start offensively, Coach Enos handed the offense to redshirt freshman Cooper Rush. Rush led the team with 326 passing yards and three touchdowns, most of which came in the second half. For the foreseeable future and maybe beyond, it looks like CMU has found a replacement for the injured Cody Kater. The Chippewas will get a tougher test this weekend in UNLV, who comes into this game looking for their first win of the season after two losses to BCS-conference teams. In week one, the Rebels kept it close with Minnesota until blunders on special teams and late turnovers did them in. UNLV returns starting quarterback Nick Sherry, who threw for 2,544 yards last season, which was the fourth-most yards by freshman in Mountain West history. The CMU defense will also have to account for big play running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, who already has runs for 79 and 64 yards. I expect both of the young quarterbacks to put on a show, with the Rebels pulling it out in the end because of their playmakers at running back, as well as their home field advantage.
Prediction: UNLV 41, Central Michigan 35
Steve Livingston, Publisher
After two up-and-down weeks for the Chippewas, they head to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday night to take on the UNLV Rebels, a team that has already suffered two huge losses this season. The Rebels lost by 32 at Minnesota in week one and got hammered by Arizona last week, 58-13. This is the first game in 2013 that CMU will play against a FBS team with a similar talent level. A win would give the Chippewas some nice momentum heading into their Mid-American Conference opener against Toledo next weekend. Both teams should be able to run the ball very well. UNLV has a pair of electric backs in Tim Cornett and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence. CMU struggled to run the ball a bit against New Hampshire, but UNLV has been gashed by the run in their first two games. The Rebels are 119th in the country in rushing defense. I think the difference is going to be the quarterback play. I know that I should feel more confident with a quarterback that has 14 career starts at home than a freshman quarterback making his first career start over 2,000 miles from home. Call me crazy, but right now I feel more confident in Cooper Rush than I do in Nick Sherry. Give me the Chippewas.
Prediction: Central Michigan 31, UNLV 24
Tyler Parsons, Publisher
CMU heads out west to take on the Rebels in a key game for both teams. For CMU, a win would go a long way to building some confidence before the MAC schedule opens up. On the flip side, UNLV is at a crossroads and this is about as much of a must-win for them as possible.
CMU has already suffered three season ending injuries to key offensive players, but this game all hinges on what we can really expect from Cooper Rush. This is his first road test, his first start and really his first crack at locking down the starting job. Can he build off his 326-yard performance, because CMU is going to need it if they want to come out with a win.
With UNLV, it really is hard to gauge what type of team they really are coming off blowout losses to Minnesota and Arizona. But based on why I've been told and seen, they are a pretty bad football team. I'm going to pick CMU to win in a shootout.
Prediction: Central Michigan 38, UNLV 34
Stick to ChippewaCountry for the latest in CMU athletics and recruiting