2010 GMAC Bowl - Central Michigan vs. Troy
CMU QB Dan LeFevour & Troy QB Levi Brown
CMU QB Dan LeFevour & Troy QB Levi Brown
Posted Dec 29, 2009

The CFN 2010 GMAC Bowl Preview - Central Michigan vs. Troy

2010 GMAC Bowl

Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)

Mobile, AL, Jan. 6, 7 pm ESPN

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Team Pages and 2009 Season
Central MichiganTroy 


- 2009 CFN GMAC Bowl Preview
- 2008 CFN GMAC Bowl Preview
- 2007 CFN GMAC Bowl Preview
National Rankings
CM   T
33rd Total Offense 3rd
29th Total Defense 100th
17th Scoring Offense 18th
14th Scoring Defense 86th
42nd Rushing Offense 61st
30th Run Defense 54th
36th Passing Offense 4th
49th Passing Defense 117th
39th Turnover Margin 94th
Position Ratings
relative to each other
CM 5 highest
1 lowest
5 Quarterbacks 4.5
3 RBs 3
4.5 Receivers 3.5
4 O Line 3
3.5 D Line 4
4 Linebackers 4
3 Secondary 2
3.5 Spec Teams 3
2.5 Coaching 4
GMAC Bowl History
2009 Tulsa 45, Ball State 13
2008 Tulsa 63, Bowling Green 7
2007 Southern Miss 28, Ohio 7
2005 Toledo 45, UTEP 13
2004 Bowling Green 52, Memphis 35
2003 Miami-Ohio 49, Louisville 28
2002 Marshall 38, Louisville 15
2001 Marshall 64, East Carolina 61
2000 Southern Miss 28, TCU 21
1999 TCU 28, East Carolina 14
2009 Georgia 24, Michigan State 12

It's like waiting for the headlining act and having to sit through some crappy band first. But it's not like having to deal with Kings of Leon before Radiohead; it's worse. It's like getting Justin Bieber.

The GMAC Bowl sucks, and outside of the 64-61 Marshall double overtime classic over East Carolina in 2001 (in a game that was on its way to sucking before Byron Leftwich led the epic comeback), it has always sucked.

It's in a strange time slot, filling the void on the day before the BCS Championship and coming after the Orange Bowl, and while the matchups have been intriguing, the games have been awful ever since the bowls inception in 1999. Of the 11 GMAC Bowls, two have been decided by a touchdown or less (the 28-21 Southern Miss win over TCU in 2000, along with the Marshall win) while the other nine have been decided by 14 points or more. Even worse, the winning teams in the last seven bowls have won by a score of 320 to 118, or an average final score of 45 to 17. Tulsa has been the menace over the last two years whacking Bowling Green 63-7 in 2008 and Ball State 45-13 in 2009, but this year the Sun Belt gets to have a turn to try to turn around the bowl's fortune.

Past matchups have looked terrific on paper but were awful. Can this year's matchup finally buck the trend? It should. It has to.

This game, the Fiesta Bowl (Boise State vs. TCU), the Rose Bowl (Ohio State vs. Oregon) and the BCS Championship (Texas vs. Alabama) are the only four bowl games between conference champions, and it matches up the two reigning superpowers in their respective conferences. Central Michigan blew through the MAC and was able to pull off a miraculous win over Michigan State on the way to an 11-2 record, while Troy cranked out yet another Sun Belt title going unbeaten in conference play. However, and here's the concern for all those looking for a fun GMAC Bowl, the Trojans got smoked by Bowling Green 31-14; Central Michigan whacked the Falcons 24-10.

This is Troy's fourth bowl appearance, with all coming in the last five years, with the only win coming in a 41-17 blasting of Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl. Unlike past Troy teams that had dominant defenses and decent offenses, this year's defense stinks, but it has a high-powered attack that ranks third in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing.

Central Michigan also has just one bowl win in its history, a 31-14 blowout over Middle Tennessee in the 2006 Motor City Bowl, and its defense has been mostly miserable in bowls. The 1990s bowls don't really matter in this year's equation, but in the four bowl losses the Chippewas gave up 48 points, 52, 51, and last year lost a 24-21 home game to Florida Atlantic in the Motor City Bowl. But like this year's Troy team, CMU is different. Troy might have been known for its defense and now it's an offensive team, while the Chippewas finally showed a defense this year, something it hadn't had in years, and it made a big difference finishing first in the MAC in scoring D and second in total defense. But the offense didn't go away.

These are two excellent offenses with plenty of all-stars and enough veteran players to not be all "gee whiz!" about being in a bowl game, and these are two teams that know how to win. They should be able to finally give the world a decent GMAC Bowl, at least on paper, but the same was said for most of the previous bowls.

Maybe having a Sun Belt team in instead of a Conference USA squad will help. Maybe having two conference champions will be a factor. Maybe we'll all be buying time until the BCS Championship.

Players to Watch
: This is worth watching for the quarterbacks alone, and an argument could be made that Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Troy's Levi Brown were two of the best quarterbacks in college football this year. If they played for any BCS school they'd have been in the Heisman race.

This game will be a celebration of LeFevour's career. The greatest player in MAC history has thrown for 12,510 career yards with 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions, and has run for 2,936 yards and 46 scores. More importantly, he has led CMU to three MAC championships and is closing out his final year looking for his second bowl win. After being banged up for most of last year, the one season under his watch that CMU didn't win the MAC title, he went back to his old running ways with 701 yards and 14 scores while completing 71% of his throws with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has thrown just two picks in the last eight games and has tossed 11 scoring passes in his last four.

Not expected to do much as the third option coming into the 2008, and even considered to potentially move to receiver, Brown, a Richmond transfer was thrown into the starting role halfway through the season and has been terrific ever since. The 6-4, 225-pound senior came up with a whale of a final year throwing for 3,868 yards and 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and he has thrown for over 400 yards three times. While not a runner, he's mobile and can buy time under pressure by moving around, and he has shown enough of an arm to get the ball anywhere he wants to. Second in the nation in total offense cranking out 324 yards per game, he is the Troy offense.

Both quarterbacks are helped by playmaking receivers who should see plenty of time and long looks from the next level. CMU's Antonio Brown has helped LeFevour, and vice versa, with 292 career catches for 3,021 yards and 22 scores, and has made 97 grabs this year for 1,020 yards and nine scores, but he's just as valuable as a kick and punt returner. An All-America caliber return man, he averaged 13.5 yards per punt return with two touchdowns.

Troy junior Jerrel Jernigan is a star kickoff returner averaging 23.1 yards per try and has been a steady receiver and part time runner over the last three years. Explosive, averaging 15.3 yards per catch with four scores, he has gotten hot at the right time with 11 grabs for 289 yards and a score over the last two weeks. However, he was shut out by Florida and caught just five catches for 43 yards against Arkansas.

Central Michigan will win if ... the team gets jacked up about the idea of playing for Steve Stripling, the interim head coach with Butch Jones taking off for Cincinnati. This is a veteran Chippewa team that should be above the emotion of losing the head man, players like LeFevour are gone anyway and aren't going to be worrying about anything more than just winning this game. CMU will win if LeFevour is sharper than Brown. Troy has to bomb away to win, and if Brown isn't far better, CMU will pull off the victory. The Chippewa defense has played far better this season despite not generating much of a pass rush, and it has to get to Brown just enough to throw off the timing of the Trojan attack.

Troy will win if ... Boris Lee and Bear Woods keep LeFevour from ripping off too many key first down runs. The Troy secondary has been a nightmare, but the front seven has been terrific thanks to ends Cameron Sheffield and Brandon Lang looking to keep LeFevour in the pocket, but when the scrambles come, the tremendous Trojan linebacking pair has to shine. Lee has, arguably, been the greatest linebacker in Sun Belt history and is veteran enough to not fall for LeFevour's fakes and be able to read the runs without too much of a problem. CMU has other weapons and can pound away a bit with Bryan Schroeder and the ground game, but the team will be in LeFevour's hands. Lee and Woods have to be better.

What will happen: This GMAC Bowl won't suck. Both teams have strong offenses and there will be several big plays from both sides, but CMU's defense will be better than Troy's and the quarterbacks will be dead even. Brown and the special teams will also be a big difference with one big return, or three, setting up the Chippewas in key times. The CMU coaching situation won't matter too much. Stripling will know how to keep the train running, and LeFevour runs the offense, anyway.

CFN Prediction: Central Michigan 38 … Troy 31 ... Line: Central Michigan -3.5

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Best Trojan Bowl Moment: In its brief stay in the FBS, Troy has dropped two of its three bowl appearances, losing to Northern Illinois in the 2004 Silicon Valley Bowl and Southern Miss in the 2008 New Orleans Bowl. In the lone victory, the Trojans, routed Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl, getting 319 total yards and five touchdowns out of star QB Omar Haugabook.

Best Chippewa Bowl Moment: Central Michigan has taken part in five bowl games, but only the 2006 Motor City Bowl ended with a victory. The Chippewas handled Middle Tennessee State, 31-14, getting a pair of touchdowns from Ontario Sneed to cap a sensational MAC-championship year with their first 10-win season since 1979.

Central Michigan Bowl History (1-4)
2009 Motor City Florida Atlantic 24, CMU 21
2007 Motor City Purdue 51, CMU 48
2006 Motor City CMU 31, MTSU 14
1994 Las Vegas UNLV 52, CMU 24
1990 California San Jose St 48, CMU 24
Troy Bowl History (1-2)
2008 New Orleans Southern Miss 30, Troy 27 OT
2006 New Orleans Troy 41, Rice 17
2004 Silicon Valley Northern Illinois 34, Troy 21