Central Michigan (1-3) at NC State (2-1) Sept. 28, 3:30, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Central Michigan and NC State are meeting for just the second time ever, both looking for momentum before their respective league play continues. The Wolfpack is coming off its first loss of the year, a 26-14 home defeat at the hands of ACC powerhouse Clemson. Making the postseason, a goal of first-year coach Dave Doeren, will require a victory in this type of game. It’s shaping up as a long year in Mount Pleasant for the Chippewas, a situation exacerbated by injuries to starting QB Cody Kater and star RB Zurlon Tipton in the opener. Central Michigan’s lone victory was a three-point escape of New Hampshire of the FCS in Week 2.
Why Central Michigan Might Win: With the Wolfpack having problems on offense, Central Michigan might not need a lot of fireworks to get out of Raleigh with an upset. Redshirt freshman QB Cooper Rush has become increasingly comfortable in his new role, with plenty of help from All-MAC WR Titus Davis. Plus, RB Saylor Lavallii is coming off a career-high 144 yards in a loss to Toledo.
Why NC State Might Win: The Chippewas are having all kinds of issues on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense, where they’ve allowed 43 points per game against FBS competition. This should be the week that Pete Thomas throws his first touchdown pass as a member of the Pack. State also hopes to establish the run, even if it means finding new ways to get the ball in the hands of elusive WR Bryan Underwood.
Who To Watch Out For: A Central Michigan line that’s yielded 13 sacks already will get tested again this week. The seasoned Pack D-line, led by DE Art Norman and NT Thomas Teal are capable of forcing Rush into forced throws.
- The Pack has a similar problem as the Chippewas in that it can’t block. State is toothless at the point of attack, while Central Michigan is 17th nationally in tackles for loss. Linebackers Justin Cherocci and Shamari Benton have a penchant for fighting through blocks and getting into the backfield quickly.
- Second-year JUCO transfer Robert Caldwell has been a very pleasant surprise at middle linebacker thus far for NC State. He leads the team with 30 stops, and he had three tackles for loss in the Clemson game.
What Will Happen: A visit from Central Michigan is exactly what NC State needs before ACC play resumes. The Pack will mute the Chippewa offense with an underrated D, while its own offense locates a pulse, if only for a week. It’ll grind out a win, aided by turnovers and a non-offensive score.
Prediction: NC State 31 … Central Michigan 10
Line: NC State -24 o/u: 52
Must See Rating: (5 Rush – 1 Dads) … 2