The first game of the year has been overlooked by most as an easy win for Oklahoma State, but those are also the ones who forget about the Bahamas Bowl miracle that almost happened when the Chippewas scored 34 points. In one quarter.
So we know this team is capable of scoring points. And if you've paid attention to college football previews that aren't colored in orange and black, you may have heard of CMU quarterback Cooper Rush, who threw for more than 3,000 yards and a completion percentage of better than 63 percent. If not, that's OK, we'll give you the low down on the Chippewas thanks to James Jimenez of the The Hustle Belt.
1) What are the biggest changes from last year's squad to this year's?
There are definitely some major changes, but the biggest by far is that CMU goes from having a very experienced core of players to a very young core that doesn't have as much game experience. Our two best offensive players (Titus Davis and Thomas Rawls) left for the NFL, while two of our most experienced linemen (Andy Phillips and Kevin Henry) have graduated. Justin Cherocci, Leterrius Walton, and Jason Wilson are also gone on defense, so that could be an issue. The team is also transitioning philosophies on both sides of the ball, returning to the up-tempo offense and 4-3 defense that made CMU famous in the late 2000's.
2) You all lost to KU and Syracuse last season - how do you think you'll fare against OSU?
To be fair, CMU's was without their two biggest playmakers for those games, what with Davis being injured and Rawls being arrested. There was also a transition at kicker. The start of the 2014 season was a mess. I think Central can hang with OSU. There's a lot of firepower on offense with the young skill players and a quarterback that has had time to develop. In the Kansas game, CMU had a chance multiple times, but just couldn't close. It could be a similar story here.
3) Everybody wants to win, but what result would CMU have to get for the fans to be happy?
A win. There's a lot of expectation with this game, realistic or not. With Coach Bonamego (a proud Chippewa alum and recent cancer survivor) making his debut, and the first game after the tragic death of the beloved Derrick Nash, a win would do wonders for this program, which has been down on their luck the last five years. I think a close loss would be acceptable to fans as well.
4) What will the strength of this team be on both sides of the ball?
The strength of the CMU offense will lie in the offensive line, which was great at keeping Cooper Rush upright last season. Nick Beamish and Ramadan Ahmeti are legit players that will certainly create lanes for Martez Walker and/or Devon Spalding.
On defense, Tony Annese will captain the secondary after a stellar 2014 campaign that saw three interceptions, ten pass breakups, and 74 tackles. Annese is in the running for the Jim Thorpe Award, so he's definitely a force to be reckoned with. Blake Serpa and Joe Ostman are a nasty pair of defensive ends that combined for seven sacks.
5) Let's pretend that we have done zero research on Central Michigan, what are the three most important things we should know about the Chippewas?
1) Up-tempo. This team plays fast and will kill you by paper cut if you're not careful.
2) DAMN THE TORPEDOES. The defense is predicated on stopping the run and getting the big play, so expect a lot of aggression on the line to cause chaos in the secondary.
3) They're not scared. CMU kept a lot of games close last season, and all you need to do is watch last year's Bahamas Bowl to see how much heart they have. No opponent is too big.
6) Who is the X-Factor on both sides of the ball for the Chippewas?
Cooper Rush is the man to watch on offense, along with possession receiver Jesse Kroll, who had 36 receptions for 582 yards and four touchdowns in 2014.
Redshirt freshman Malik Fountain has made a lot of noise in fall camp, and with good reason. Fountain is an outside linebacker that goes sideline to sideline with the mentality of an inside linebacker. He will be a huge playmaker. Look for Joe Ostman and Jabari Dean as well.
7) Not sure how much you've heard about this Cowboy team, but what player are you most nervous to face?
I would say Mason Rudolph. CMU's secondary is very young and inexperienced, and a gunslinger with as much capability as Rudolph, combined with the weapons OK State has at receiver, could spell a very bad day for Central fans.
8) What's your prediction for the game? Does CMU (Almost) pull out another miracle like it did in the bowl game last year?
I wish. But alas, OK State is just a better overall team. CMU might have the home field and the emotional adrenaline behind them, but there's just too many unknowns right now. I would say it stays close in the first half before the Pokes run away with it. CMU 24-42 OK State.
Thanks for having me on, and #FireUpChips!
That's it, you can check out the Q&A I did with them over on their site, which should be going up soon this morning. You can follow James @AVKingJames or look up #FireUpChips for updates on social media for a look on the other side.