Michigan's defense came was extremely strong against Vanderbilt last week, relinquishing a single score on a trick play. The front seven was particularly impressive en route to limiting the Commodores to 42 yards rushing and sacking the visiting quarterback six times. Among all of that success was still a few question marks…the most significant of which is how good is this year's secondary. Vanderbilt did not test the Wolverine DB's the way they're going to be tested as the season progresses.
Central Michigan should give the Maize and Blue pass defense a decent look. The Chippewas will spread the field and force the Wolverines to play disciplined and test their depth. Despite their best efforts, the Chips just don't have the manpower to present a significant threat. CMU will get more yards through the air than Vandy (who had 129), but they will bring just as much heat as they did last week. Expect the Wolverines to get a good read on who the starting cornerback opposite Leon Hall should be today.
On offense, the running game should be even more impressive. The Chips are overmatched up front and Mike Hart should have no problem eclipsing 125 yards again. His carries will likely be limited to 20-25. Brandon Minor and Kevin Grady should experience success as well as they split the rest of the carries.
Michigan should roll in this one. If they don't it spells trouble heading into Notre Dame next week.
Central Michigan: 10
This should be the game that many fans expected to see against Vanderbilt. The defense for the Chippewa’s will put eight in the box and try to challenge Michigan's running game. Other than defensive end Daniel Bazuin, the defensive trench isn’t very impressive. The linebackers are the strength of the unit and is the team's main weapon against Michigan's running attack. Expect the Wolverines to go easy on Mike Hart and focus on getting some of their other backs involved more heavily.
The passing game should have all the opportunity to put some needed polish on things after a rusty first game that saw too many dropped passes and missed throws. The Chippewa’s use large cushions, which should make for some nice opportunities for the Wolverines. Quick out routes, wide receiver screen passes, and flood routes should give Steve Breaston and Mario Manningham a chance to touch the ball in space and make some plays. Also watch for some play action passing that may catch the defense out of position.
Defensively, Michigan will get to further improve itself against the spread offense. The Central Michigan offense is very similar to that of instate rival Michigan State. You will see plenty of spread formations but also some two tight end sets as well. The team likes to get tricky with quarterback runs, wide receiver hand-offs and lots of play action fakes to the running backs and wide receivers in motion. The offense is still searching for a number one quarterback, and overall, there aren’t too many playmakers to scare the Wolverines. Wide receivers Damien Linson, Obed Cétoute, and running back Ontario Sneed are the best weapons of the bunch.
This should be the needed tune up game before the Wolverines head down to South Bend. Expect the Wolverines to look better on offense while maintaining their solid play on defense.
-Adrian Arrington will be a pleasant surprise on offense and finally start to show shades of what is to come.
-Central Michigan will try at least one wide receiver pass, most likely with Damien Linson.
-The Wolverine defense will tally at least three quarterback sacks. The offensive line had trouble picking up the Boston College blitz packages and running back Ontario Sneed isn’t a strong blocker when he does stay in to pass protect.
-The special teams units will be improved. Central Michigan don’t display great blocking on the return units and are sloppy in kick coverage. The Wolverines will have to adjust to the Chippewa’s very odd punting scheme though.
Central Michigan: 10
Why to watch: Michigan was hardly sharp in a 27-7 win over Vanderbilt, but it's the sign of a good team that it can with relative ease when it doesn't play all that well. With the showdown at Notre Dame coming up next, the Wolverines have to use Central Michigan to sharpen everything up from better route running from the receivers to more big plays to more pop from the return game. That might be easier said than done against Chippewa squad that gave a rock-solid and far superior Boston College team all it could handle in a 31-24 Eagle win. While CMU doesn't have the horses to get into a firefight with the Maize and Blue, it has enough good players to have a puncher's chance if everything breaks the right way.
Why Central Michigan might win: Michigan looked far from being a finished product against Vanderbilt. Dropped passes and a few missed opportunities kept the Commodores from mounting any sort of serious threat. Expected to win in a blowout just like BC was last week, the Wolverines, with their heads already in South Bend, might just let CMU hang around and hang around and hang around until it's the fourth quarter and the game is far closer than expected.
Why Michigan might win: ... it took gimmicks, quirky plays, and several off-the-wall chances for CMU to get into a position to have the ball down seven late against BC. It wasn't like the Chippewas just stepped up and played better than the Eagles. Those same tricks won't work twice; Michigan has the film from last week's game. The Wolverine coaching staff also has the luxury BC's didn't of being able to properly prepare for.
Who to watch: ... freshman backup quarterback Dan LeFevour. When CMU starter Brian Brunner suffered a concussion on a crushing hit on the second play from scrimmage against the Eagles, LeFevour stepped in and went 22 of 37 for 221 yards and ran 14 times for 72 yards. CMU RB Ontario Sneed is the team's offensive star, so if Michigan focuses on keeping LeFevour contained, Sneed has to take advantage. ... Michigan didn't want to wear down Mike Hart against Vandy, but according to the coaches, the game went flying and the backups didn't get as much work as expected. Hart won't last the season if he keeps carrying it 31 times, so look for Kevin Grady and Brandon Minor to combine for at least 20 carries.
What will happen: Michigan will play like its fans have been waiting for and will look like a top ten team. This is the game when things will start to click.
CFN Prediction: Michigan 41 ... Central Michigan 10 ... Line: Michigan -27
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Fashion House) ... 2(TJB's 'Real Score': 37-13 ... the flavor of the day is still vanilla)