The MAC Game of the Week: Miami (OH) at Central Michigan

The RedHawks and the Chippewas, two titans of the Mid-American Conference and definitely two programs that will always be in the MAC contention conversation at the end of each season. This year has gone a little differently than the two programs are used to, both programs have lost games they could have won.

Central Michigan needed three overtimes to beat the Rhode Island Rams… THREE OVERTIMES. This is the same team that made it to a bowl game just last season. The RedHawks lost two games by one score to Cincinnati and Marshall, both of which they could have easily found themselves victorious if they limited their mistakes, or even got a bounce here and there. Nevertheless, it is fun to play the hypothetical game at times but both teams have a thirst to prove themselves and this week will be their best chance to do so.

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This matchup is shaping up to be a truly even one as oddsmakers still have not been able to definitively declare a favorite and an underdog. So it goes without saying that both teams have a fair chance of winning this weekend but they’ll be able to drastically improve their chances if they follow my keys to the game.

Central Michigan Chippewas Keys to the Game

  • Limit The Effectiveness of Wide Receiver James Gardner. There is a reason Gardner has been hauling in long pass after long pass and it is not only because of his speed. CMU must be willing to give up the short gain in order to prevent the long one when it comes to James Gardner (above).
  • Give Miami QB Gus Ragland (pictured) Some Complex Defensive Schemes to Deal With. Ragland is not the type of player that will beat you on the ground but he is a smart QB that does not throw many interceptions (only two through three games). The Chippewas need to make sure Ragland begins second guessing himself when it comes to his progressions in order to force turnovers.
  • Control the Clock. Now for CMU, running back Jonathan Ward (below) will have to have a solid performance. Limiting Miami’s time on offense will be the key to making sure that the Chippewa defense executes their game plan. But if you give the RedHawks and Ragland enough time to adjust and adapt then they might be in trouble.

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Miami RedHawks Keys to the Game

  • Send The Pressure All Game. It will be immensely important for the RedHawks to smother the Chippewa run game and to keep CMU quarterback Shane Morris uncomfortable.
  • The RedHawks NEED to Get The Ground Game Going. This one starts with running back Alonzo Smith (below). If Smith can get some momentum going early and get his confidence up then he could be in for a big game. Any way for the RedHawks to keep the Chippewas off of the field will be big.
  • Hold On To The Ball. The LAST thing that Miami needs to do this game is turn the ball over too many times. The RedHawks need to secure the football and do their job, don’t try to be the hero just do what you’re supposed to do and hold onto the football.

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This game will be a close one and I think Central Michigan will end up being very slight favorites, but I’ll be a contrarian because I’m rolling with the Miami RedHawks. I think the RedHawks will be trailing for most of the game but a late turnover will set them up for a game-winning field goal for the win. RedHawks win 36-34.

 

Cover Photo via WCPO

Article Photos via Sporting News, MLive and Toledo Blade

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