2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - SC State at Central Mich
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Sept. 1 at Central Michigan 21 … South Carolina State 6
CFN Analysis: It wasn't exactly the type of blowout CMU might have wanted, and the offense only came up with 256 yards, but it was an easy double-digit win that got everyone's feet wet. Ryan Radcliff was okay, not great, barely completing half his passes, but Zurlon Tipton came up with a nice game running the ball with 73 yards on 18 carries. Kentucky's offense isn't exactly great out of the gate, so if the Chippewas can be a bit better on the ground, and if they can get the ball down the field a little more effectively, they might have a chance to pull off the upset if the defense plays as well as it did in the opener.
(AP) MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Ryan Radcliff threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns to lead Central Michigan to a 21-6 victory against South Carolina State on Thursday night.
Radcliff, who completed 14 of 27, fired a 45-yard scoring toss to Cody Wilson in the first quarter and a 67-yard TD pass to Titus Davis in the second period. He was intercepted twice.
Zurlon Tipton rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries for the Chippewas, who won their fifth straight season-opening game.
Blake Erickson kicked two field goals for the Bulldogs, who were held to 137 yards of offense.
Wilson had four receptions for 53 yards.
Carolina State (0-0) vs. Central Michigan (0-0) Sept. 1,
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Here's The Deal … Rewind past last year and you'll likely remember Butch Jones and Dan LeFevour being in the hunt for MAC titles on an annual basis at Central Michigan. What a difference a year makes as the Chippewas had the daunting task of breaking in a new quarterback, who moved on to the NFL, and a head coach who moved on to more exposure in the Big East. A 3-9 season later, and it is evident that it won't be a quick transition.
By contrast, South Carolina State has continued to show that it is one of the top teams in the FCS division by winning a SBN national title in 2009 and a MEAC league title each of the last three years. Its coach, Buddy Pough has been there for a decade and doesn't appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon. SCSU is an established commodity in their world, and are looking to stay that way while CMU will be looking to re-establish itself. South Carolina State will be trying to add its name to the likes of Appalachian State, South Dakota, and James Madison as several FCS teams who have knocked off an FBS team over the last few years.
Why Central Michigan Might Win: It's yet another matchup for a home FBS team versus a visiting FCS team looking for some exposure and experience. Yes it's the MAC and not a BCS conference, but there is still a pretty good disparity in the talent pipeline coming in between the two. We have seen this movie before, and it doesn't typically end well for the visiting lower division team. Central Michigan may not have had a very good year last year, but now the same young team that was just trying to survive has another year of experience. That alone should make a difference against all opponents, especially one out-manned like South Carolina State. Want further proof in the talent gap? CMU has outscored FCS opponents 112-12 over the past three years, and this includes last year's 33-0 pasting of a Hampton team that gave SCSU fits in a regular season MEAC Conference game last year. Did we mention a talent gap? Players the caliber of CMU junior quarterback Ryan Radcliff don't just show up very often at football facilities in the MEAC. Radcliff will be throwing the ball all over the field against a defensive line that doesn't have the size and athleticism to get a good pass rush on a consistent basis. Given time to throw, the passing attack could key an offensive explosion that the Bulldogs won't be able to keep up with.
Why South Carolina State Might Win: It's the first game of the season when many of the FCS teams have been able to surprise the big brother division in an opener before the rust is kicked away. Truth be told, it's not like South Carolina State is a pushover of a lower division team, and its not as if Central Michigan is at the top of its game right now. On top of that, the Bulldogs are able to hit the Chippewas where it hurts. They have a legitimate running attack to strike right at the heart of CMU rush defense that finished 87th in 2010. On the defensive side of the ball, though the Bulldogs lose some of their depth in the secondary, there are still key pieces returning to a unit that snatched 17 interceptions from opponents. Combine that with a CMU team that threw the ball to the other team 18 times, and all the ingredients are there for this game to be close throughout. If SCSU can be there at the end, they have the personnel and confidence to spring the upset.
What To Watch Out For: SCSU's 6-0, 205-pound Asheton Jordan is a talented running back on any level. The second year transfer from the Citadel almost won the starting job last year from senior Chris Massey, and it hardly mattered as he saw just as much playing time as a starter, rushing the ball for 108 times for 642 yards. His 5.8 yard average per carry was the better mark of the two headed rushing attack, and should vault him to the featured offensive weapon heading into 2011. If he can find any kind of running room to control the clock, the Bulldogs have a chance.
For Central Michigan, it has the makings of another superstar at quarterback. It's always tough to replace what could be considered a legend at CMU, and had it been any other year than the year after LeFevour there wouldn't have been as much criticism. Despite his early troubles, Radcliff righted the ship at the end of the year by throwing for over 300 yards in each of the last three games. He won't beat you with his feet, but his electric arm and pocket presence will be something to watch as the year progresses. 2011 may be the year that Chippewa fans realize the potential of the prospect that everyone thought Radcliff would be. It could be a coming out party beginning against South Carolina State.
What Will Happen: The Bulldogs will come out trying to control the clock with a steady dose of Jordan, while rotating other backs in to keep the fresh legs going. They will have some early success and keep the game close for a while. Central Michigan, as usual, will come out bombing away. It will take the passing game more time to gel in its first real game situation than it will for SCSU's running attack. CMU will have some success moving the ball early, but stall and turn the ball over just enough to make things interesting for awhile. With the game relatively close still early in the second half, the Chippewas will find their offensive moxie through the air and begin putting up big numbers. In the end, South Carolina State will not be able to keep up with offensive flurry that Ryan Radcliff and company display in the end.
CFN Prediction: Central Michigan 35 … South Carolina State 17
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