Two-A-Days: Central Michigan

Eight games into two-a-days and the Eagles are looking better than most expected. The final weekend of October offers the Eagles a little bit of a break in the schedule. After five straight games against bowl caliber teams, the Eagles will face one MAC team and Virginia. The morning session today will take a look at the Central Michigan Chippewas.

Last Year: Central Michigan did what few MAC teams have done last season. They made it to their third straight bowl game. No MAC team has ever made it to four straight bowl games. Although they failed to make the title game, they won six conference games and beat a BCS team.

The strength of the 2008 team was the offense. They finished second in the MAC in total offense and fifth in scoring offense. The key was QB Dan Lefevour. He lead the MAC in passing and was ranked twelfth nationally.

The defense was not so good. They were dead last in the MAC in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. The Chippewas allowed a staggering 423 yards per game. The pass defense was notably bad, allowing 287 yards per game, tied for the worst in the country.

Why They Could Be Better: The return of Dan Lefevour means the offense will once again be potent. He is the best passer in the MAC and is able to use his feet to move the chains. He is a poor man's Tim Tebow with a better arm.

The defense should also be better as they return just about everyone from last year. Given how poorly they played, improvement is inevitable. They also get back five defensive backs with experience and that should result in a better performance in the passing game.

Why They Could Be Worse: The running game will struggle this year as they lost their best back from last season, Ontario Sneed. They will go with true sophomore Bryan Schroeder, who is not a game breaker. That means they will rely even more on the Lefevour to generate offense.

They also lose three guys off the line, including two tackles. This offense needs to give the QB time to read the coverage and run or throw from the pocket. A let down on the line, particularly in pass protection will limit what they can do with Lefevour in the pocket.

That's probably the biggest concern for the Chippewas. They want to keep their star quarterback clean by having him throw from the pocket. They have no one behind him and can ill-afford to have him miss time with injuries. If they cannot protect Lefevour, the offense could grind to a halt.

What To Expect: Three years ago BC went to CMU and had to hang on for dear life to get a victory. This one looks like a similar affair. The Eagles will have the better talent, but the play making ability of Lefevour will keep the Chippewas in it.

By this point in the season BC will have a more balanced attack. Against the slower linebackers and defensive backs, BC will look to throw the ball more than we have seen this season. The running game will be the main attack, but the passing game will have a greater role.

On defense, the goal will be to keep Lefevour in the pocket and force him to throw into the zone. The CMU receivers have talent and that means a much more cautious approach to pass coverage. The last thing BC will want is one-on-one match-ups against the veteran wide outs of CMU.

Prediction: At this point BC will not be looking past anyone on the schedule. In prior years this may have been a trap game. This year it is a must win if they want to keep the bowl streak alive. MAC teams rarely win on the road against BCS teams for a reason. BC 31 CMU 27


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