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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Peden Stadium (24,000) -- Athens, Ohio. Television: Time Warner Cable Sportschannel, ESPN3. Home Record: CMU 1-1, Ohio 3-0. Away Record: CMU 1-3, Ohio 1-1. Neutral Record: CMU 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 1-1, Ohio 1-0. Series Record: Central Michigan leads, 21-5-2.
GAME NOTES: The Central Michigan Chippewas are back in the Buckeye State as they get set to take on the Ohio University Bobcats in a cross-divisional Mid- American Conference tilt at Peden Stadium.
CMU snapped a three-game losing slide last week and rose to 1-1 in the MAC standings with a 21-9 decision over the Miami-Ohio RedHawks at Yager Stadium. The Chippewas are now 2-4 with their other victory coming in the form of a 24-21 decision over FCS foe New Hampshire. Coach Dan Enos's team has been defeated by an average of 27.8 points in its losses to Michigan, UNLV, Toledo and NC State. CMU has lost 12 of its last 15 games dating back to last season.
Since falling, 49-7, at Louisville in their season opener, the Bobcats have shown they are a viable contender for the 2013 MAC Championship. Ohio defeated a pair of Conference USA opponents in North Texas (27-21) and Marshall (34-31) before its 38-0 shutout of Austin Peay in week four. Coach Frank Solich's team followed up its domination of the Governors with a 43-3 rout of Akron that gave it a 1-0 start to its MAC season. Ohio is also perfect at Peden Stadium on the year with three wins in as many games.
This will be the 29th meeting in history between these schools on the gridiron. CMU holds a 21-5-2 all-time series lead in the rivalry that dates back to 1972. The Bobcats collected a 43-28 victory when these team's last squared off in the 2011 season.
Redshirt freshman Cooper Rush has taken the reins of the offense and started under center the last four games for CMU. He has shown his inexperience with poor decision making at times that has led to eight interceptions against six touchdown passes. Rush did a decent job of managing the game last week against Miami, finishing 11-of-21 for 110 yards with an interception. The Chippewas offense could make drastic strides if he raises his 51.9 percent completion rating.
Saylor Lavallii had a big-time performance with 151 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries to power CMU past Miami. Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore also made an impact on the ground with 50 yards on 10 attempts. The Chippewas played well down the stretch versus the RedHawks as they overcame a 9-7 deficit with two touchdowns over the final 15:45. CMU has a long way to go offensively as it ranks eighth in the MAC in total offense (324.7 ypg) and scores only 17.7 ppg. Lavallii is clearly the squad's most potent weapon with 112 carries for 521 yards and five touchdowns.
Titus Davis continued to be productive during the team's much needed win last week, tallying 34 yards on three catches to go along with a career-long 54- yard punt return. In his previous outing, Davis registered the 20th touchdown catch of his career which moved him into third place on CMU's career leaderboard. Davis is ranked second in the nation among active players with a career 19.0 yards per reception average and ninth with a career 71.0 receiving yards per game average.
The Chippewas have plenty of room for improvement defensively also. They are ranked 101st among FBS schools in scoring defense with an allowance of 34.3 points per game. CMU's opponents are also posting 409 total yards of offense per outing. However, the team is fresh off one of its strongest outings of the campaign as Miami's wavering offense tallied only 294 total yards. Linebacker Justin Cherocci is pacing the MAC with 62 total stops and has also taken down the opposing quarterback three times.
Although the defense stole the show with a dominant outing last week, the Bobcats were efficient with the ball as they racked 362 yards of total offense, converted 7-of-14 of their third-down attempts and scored on six of seven trips to the red zone. Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton had another solid performance, connecting on 14-of-21 pass attempts for 171 yards and two touchdowns. The program's all-time leader in passing yards improved to 22-9 as a starter with the win.
Ohio received strong performances from a pair of its key contributors in its win over the Zips. Donte Foster hauled in a team-high four receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Beau Blankenship rushed for a team-high 67 yards on 14 carries. The Bobcats were unable to keep their three- game streak of scoring on their opening possession alive, however they did score on the ensuing punt as the coverage team recorded a safety thanks to a forced fumble by Miles Chapman.
The Bobcats' defense has been nearly perfect over the past two weeks with only three allowed points during that span. They held an opponent scoreless for the first time under the nine-year veteran Solich in their win over APSU and registered eight sacks on Akron's Kyle Pohl last time out. Ohio's recent trend of stingy play has helped it to the second-best scoring defense (20.8) among MAC schools and the same ranking in total defense (370.2 ypg). Sophomore linebacker Ben Russell is having a breakout season and paces the team with 33 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
CMU's win over Miami last week was a step in the right direction. The Chippewas looked strong defensively in the victory, but that will change against a much more potent attack at Peden Stadium. Tettleton is one of top quarterbacks in the conference and appears to be focused on guiding the Bobcats back to Detroit for the MAC Championship. Ohio's defense could help it pull away once again if it can apply enough pressure on CMU's young quarterback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 42, Central Michigan 13
10/09 10:36:11 ET