Thursday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. ET
Kelly Shorts Stadium, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
Central Michigan and Presbyterian College are meeting on the gridiron for the first time. However, kicking off the season against MAC schools has become something of a habit lately for PC. The Blue Hose have now opened against FBS teams on the road for the past four years, with the most recent three being against MAC schools (Miami, NIU, CMU). Overall, PC is 0-11 versus FBS competition.
Presbyterian will be . . .
The Blue Hose are coming off a 2-9 mark in 2015. They went 1-5 in the Big South Conference, were 2-3 at home and 0-6 on the road.
Scoring was part of the problem as PC scored 12.5 ppg and surrendered 20.3 ppg. Of the 217.7 yards per game on offense, 62.3 percent (135.7) came via rushes.
Central Michigan’s talented offense, led by quarterback Cooper Rush, will be big challenge for the Blue Hose. CMU averaged 25.8ppg and 401 total yards in 2015. Prebyterian returns five of 11 starters from last year’s relatively-veteran defensive unit. Departures include All-Big South players who combined for 243 tackles and 17 TFL.
Among the defensive returnees is Obinna Ntiasagwe, PC’s sack leader (5.5), who will anchor the efforts up front. He is one of three Blue Hose to earn preseason All-Big South honors. Running back Darrell Bridges and tight end Joseph Purter were also on the list.
Bridges led the league in attempts (224) and had a 1,065-yard rushing season with a team-high eight TDs in 2015.
Purter grabbed eight passes for 103 yards. Quarterback Ben Cheek is back after completing just 38 percent of his 79 passes last year. He threw two TDs against six interceptions while appearing in nine games.
Meanwhile, CMU quarterback Cooper Rush is back for his fourth year. A veteran line up front should provide protection as Rush spreads the wealth. Jesse Kroll led Central in receptions (61) and yardage (866 yards) last year when he was one of four receivers with at least four TDs. Anthony Rice owned 57 catches for 595 yards, while Mark Chapman pulled down 43 tosses for 559 yards.
Eight starters return on the Central defense.