Yager Stadium – Oxford, OH.
CBS Sports Network/ESPN3
It's been an up and down year for the Central Michigan Chippewas. The same might be said of Miami's RedHawks. Although the 2016 journey for each team has been very different, each will enter Friday night's match-up in Oxford craving a win.
Central Michigan is coming off a dramatic 27-24 last minute loss to Kent State. With a loss to Toledo in their previous outing, the Chippewas are riding a two game losing skein. Couple that with a lopsided loss to Western Michigan (49-10) and CMU's bid for a MAC West title is gone.
Very much on the table, however, is a potential bowl appearance, and their next win will make the Chippewas bowl eligible.
Miami would have to win out to become bowl eligible, but after starting the year 0-6, the RedHawks have won three straight with three to go. A quick check of . . .
Miami’s recent rise has coincided with Gus Ragland’s move into the quarterback position. The redshirt sophomore suffered an ACL tear in the spring and managed to rehab his way back onto the field at a time when MU injuries at QB had forced it to use true freshman Noah Wezensky. Though his personal stats aren’t glittery, Ragland has kept the RedHawks offense moving and turnovers down as Miami won three straight games.
Central Michigan, on the other hand, is led by a talented veteran in quarterback Cooper Rush. The senior is still climbing a myriad of school and MAC record lists. He is currently 10th in the nation is passing yards (2,533) and tied for 12th in touchdown passes (21).
CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS (5-4, 2-3 MAC)
► CMU owns a 13-12-1 edge in the series. It has won the last three meetings against Miami, including a 34-27 in their most recent encounter (2014). Rush tossed three TD passes to Titus Davis and then-freshman Devon Spalding gained 147 yards with two touchdowns in the game.
► The Chippewas are tied for fourth among MAC teams in scoring(29.7 ppg) and are seventh in scoring defense (28.4 ppg).
► Rush is seventh among MAC quarterbacks in pass efficiency and third in passing yards per game (280.7 ypg). As a team, the Chippewas are seventh in pass efficiency and fifth in pass defense efficiency.
► Both CMU and Miami top the MAC with 11 interceptions each. Central has returned four of the nine for touchdowns, Only one other team (WMU) has even two interceptions.
returned for a score. The four defensive TDs is first in the nation.
► Central Michigan has recorded 321 passing attempts and 319 rushing snaps.
► CMU held a 24-10 lead over Kent State in the third quarter of last week’s game. The Flashes then scored two touchdowns to tie things and pulled out the victory with a 35-yard field goal as time expired.
► Kent State picked off three Rush passes and sacked the QB three times. KSU held a 4-2 turnover edge. The Chippewas rank 10th in turnover margin (-4) (_0.44 per game).
► CMU has blocked two punts and four place kicks this year. A blocked field goal against
Northern Illinois led to Central’s game-winning score.
► Rush has connected with seven teammates for 21 touchdown passes. Corey Willis has nine of those receptions. Tyler Conklin and Mark Chapman have three apiece.
► Conklin is third in the nation in yards per catch among tight ends with 30 or more receptions. He averages 14.4 ypc.
► Willis ranks eighth among MAC recepivers with 5.3 receptions per game. He is sixth in receving yards (79.7 ypg).
► MU ranks first in red zone defense, while Central Michigan is third.
► Miami is first in total defense, allowing 350.0 ypg. The RedHawks are fifth in scoring defense (25.7 ppg).
► After edging Kent State, 18-14, in Ragland’s first game back on Oct. 15, Miami scored 40 points at Bowling Green and 28 last week at Eastern Michigan. MU is averaging 28.7 ppg over the last three outings and averaged 17.0 ppg over the first six contests.
Other changes include:
Rushing offense: 99.2 ypg over first six. 174.3 ypg over last three
Turnover margin: -5 over first six, +4 over lst three.
Scoring defense: 29.3 first six games, 18.3 ppg last three.
Rush defense: 156.8 ypg first six games, 83.7 ypg last three.
► Middle linebacker Junior McMullen leads the team with 62 tackles. Defensive tackles JT Jones had two sacks last week against Eastern Michigan His 24.5 career sacks is tied for third most in school history.
► Alonzo Smith leads the RedHawks with 481 yards on 133 attempts. Kenny Young is next with 385 yards on 63 trips. The latter has provided a long-yardage reception or run in each of the three wins.
► James Gardner has been the top Miami receiver. He has 35 catches for 581 yards and three touchdowns on the year. He missed last week’s game due to injury. Junior Jarey Murphy stepped up to catch nine balls for 122 yards and a 54-yard touchdown. He also had a 58-yard TD reception against Cincinnati earlier in the season.
► Ragland has completed 47 of 79 passes (59.5%) for 571 yards with six interceptions and no interceptions.
► The last Miami win over CMU in Oxford was a 46-14 decision back in 1996.
► Kicker Nick Dowd has hit all 20 extra points and 7 of 8 field goal attempts with a long of 38 yards.