Penn State vs. Central Michigan: Final thoughts ... and a prediction
Reports are surfacing that one particular Penn State follower is so jacked up after the Nittany Lions’ murder of Auburn that he’s lost all sense of perspective and proportion. He’s writing crazy, hyperbolic things about saviors and freak shows.
Can’t have that.
Players might read these things, and start believing their own press clippings … er, internet bytes … or whatever. We can’t have that with Central Michigan coming to town!
Don’t worry. I got his.
Take CMU seriously
Central Michigan is good. Probably the best 1-2 team in the nation. Or at least the Mid-American Conference. Put a scare into Oklahoma State in Week 1. Scored a ton of points in a 58-44 loss to those No. 12 Cowboys, who are now the No. 9 Cowboys.
Led by former Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain, the Chippewas went 9-4 last year, including a 24-21 victory over Washington State in the Sun Bowl. They have returning starters at quarterback and running back. Daniel Richardson passed for 24 touchdowns and more the 2,600 yards last year, with only 6 INTs. Lew Nichols rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 18 scores. The interior of the offensive line is strong.
Now in his 4th season, McElwain is 21-15 with CMU and has led it to 2 bowls. This is a better MAC team coming to Beaver Stadium on Saturday than Ohio, the one that visited in Week 2 and got dumped 46-10. This is serious MACtion. Don’t believe the 26-point spread.
Luckily for Nittany Lions fans, the Chippewas aren’t as good as they could be for this second meeting of the programs. McElwain lost last year’s starting offensive tackles to the NFL and had his defense decimated by graduations and transfers.
Some Chippewas lore
Gordon Lightfoot references the indigenous people who give CMU its nickname in the first line of his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” And yes, the Chippewa are okay with the nickname, and work with the university to make sure it’s used respectfully. Penn Staters can relate, given that Nittany derives from indigenous language as well.
The first of 3 Michigan schools Penn State will face this season, CMU is located in Mount Pleasant. Imagine putting your left hand in the mitten that is Michigan. Mount Pleasant would sit at the base of your middle finger, about an hour’s drive north of Lansing.
Tim Allen, Dick Enberg and the late pro wrestler George “The Animal” Steele are alums. Oh, right, football. Antonio Brown. The former Steelers receiver played for the Chips from 2007-09.
5 things I want to see
- A 3rd straight 100-yard rushing game from freshman sensation Nicholas Singleton. Penn State hasn’t had a back with 3 straight 100-yarders since Zach Zwinak posted 4 in a row to end the 2013 season.
- The Lions well ahead by halftime, so those in attendance can enjoy seeing the 1982 national championship team being honored at the break and Drew Allar can get a lot of second-half reps.
- PJ Mustipher making his presence felt. In his return from injury, the 320-pound defensive tackle and team captain has flown under the radar so far. With CMU strong up the middle, he might play a key role Saturday.
- A lot of Beaver Stadium love for Sean Clifford. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. If he didn’t win your respect after getting blown up at Auburn and popping right back up, he never will.
- The scoreboard. Michigan hosts Maryland in the same noon ET time slot, and that’ll be one of several B1G matchups throughout the day that will provide the first hints about how the competition is shaping up.
Way more cerebral and measured than the guy mentioned in the first paragraph above, I nonetheless like this pride of hungry Lions. There’s still enough sting left from last season’s 7-6 finish to keep the egos in check.
It might be tense for a moment — James Franklin might opt to try a 4-and-1 from his own side of the field, forcing the defense to make a red zone stop. But it won’t take long for superior talent and depth to win out. I might have exaggerated in favor of the Chips above. The truth is, CMU might be only the 3rd best MAC West directional school in its own state.
Let’s go with the same score as these teams’ first meeting in 2005:
Penn State 40, Central Michigan 3