CMU Begins Three-Game Homestand Against Ohio

MOUNT PLEASANT - Fresh off a pair of landmark wins on the road, the Central Michigan University football team returns to Kelly/Shorts Stadium this weekend to host Ohio University. Kickoff for the Homecoming contest is slated for 1 p.m.

In conjunction with Homecoming festivities, the Central Michigan athletic department will honor Chippewa football players from the 1930s, '40s, '50s, and '60s prior to kickoff on Saturday.

The Chippewas evened their record at 3-3 overall with a rain-soaked, 14-10 win at Army on Saturday. Not only was it CMU's second straight win on the road, a feat the program had not accomplished since 1993, but it marked the second consecutive week that the Chippewas rallied from an early deficit to secure a win in the fourth quarter.

"The key is our guys now understand what it takes to win a game," said second-year head coach Brian Kelly. "Those margins between winning and losing are so small. Saturday's game really mirrored the Eastern Michigan game, but this time we won because we were able to convert on the final offensive drive and we were able to get a big stop defensively."

Last weekend's game will be remembered as much for the weather conditions as it will for the play on the field. Rain moved into the West Point, N.Y. area on Friday afternoon, and the contest was played start to finish in a driving rainstorm.

"Those were the worst conditions I've seen in 20 years, and (Army head coach Bobby Ross) said they were the worst he had seen in almost 40 years of coaching," Kelly said.

CMU turns its full attention to Mid-American Conference play for the season's final six weeks. The Chippewas play their next three at home before closing the season with a pair on the road. The stretch run begins with Saturday's Homecoming game against Ohio.

"The kids know that we haven't won a Homecoming game in a few years, so that is something that's in their minds," Kelly said. "But the most important thing is that this is a MAC game. We're certainly excited to be at home for the next month."

CMU enters the teeth of the MAC schedule with a defense that has only allowed one touchdown in the past six quarters and an offense that has played at its best with its back against the wall. The Chippewas' play in recent weeks has peeked the hopes of the CMU faithful.

"We've always wanted to get ourselves into a good position entering November," Kelly said. "I've always believed that October is for pretenders, but November is for contenders. With the way our schedule was set up this year, we could conceivably be 1-5 right now but still in position to make a run in the MAC West. We've been able to build some momentum over the last couple of weeks, and getting some close victories has, I think, helped season us for the final stretch run."

Ohio, under first-year head coach Frank Solich, will bring a well-seasoned team into Kelly/Shorts Stadium as well. A 16-10 overtime win against Pitt before a national television audience was sandwiched between road losses to Northwestern and Virginia Tech to open the season. The Bobcats opened MAC play with a 35-32 win against Kent State before falling at Bowling Green last weekend.

"Ohio is a well-coached and well-disciplined team that has played a tough schedule," Kelly said. "We're going to have to play well to win, which is going to be the case each week the rest of the way."

CMU will enjoy a bye week next weekend before closing the regular season with four straight contests against MAC West Division rivals. Toledo and Northern Illinois visit Kelly/Shorts Stadium to close out the homestand, while the Chippewas finish on the road against Western Michigan (Nov. 12) and Ball State (Nov. 19).

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