Central Michigan vs. Presbyterian Prediction, Game Preview

Central Michigan vs. Presbyterian prediction and game preview for the opening contest of the 2016 season. Find out who’s projected to win the matchup between the Chippewas and Blue Hose.

Central Michigan vs. Presbyterian Game Preview

Game Details

Thursday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. ET

Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Matchup to Watch

Cooper Rush vs. Presbyterian’s pass defense

It’s no secret Central Michigan’s success relies heavily on Rush. The senior quarterback has improved steadily since taking the reins as a redshirt freshman, and again will be asked to carry the offensive load for a Chippewas team that finished last in the MAC in rushing yards last season.

Presbyterian’s defense hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer in 26 straight games dating back to 2013, but that streak likely is in jeopardy. The Blue Hose didn’t see a quarterback of Rush’s caliber last season playing in the Big South of the FCS and still finished 2-9.

Offensive Edge

Rush finished second in the MAC in passing yards (3,848) and attempts (489) last year while ranking third in touchdowns (25) and completion percentage (66.3). The Chippewas are counting on another big season from their signal caller, especially with the loss running back Romello Ross, who will be out for the season after tearing his ACL in camp after averaging 4.6 yards on 54 carries in 2015. Coach John Bonaemgo said the injury doesn’t change his plans for a backfield-by-committee approach, as Devon Spalding, Jerrod Davis, Jahray Hayes, Jay Roberson and others try to improve on the 101.3 rushing yards per game that ranked 124th out of 127 FBS teams last year.

Presbyterian’s running game centers around one man – Darrell Bridges. He rushed for 1,065 yards in 2015 to become the first player in the school’s Division I history to eclipse 1,000. Bridges should get plenty of work, as the Blue Hose’s 902 passing yards last year ranked 123rd out of 125 FCS teams. Ben Cheek is the only returning quarterback after he completed just 38 percent of his passes over nine games.

Central Michigan

Defensive Edge

The Chippewas finished second in the MAC allowing an average of 332.2 total yards per game last year, but they lost leading tackler Kavon Frazier to graduation. Defensive back Tony Annese was second in that category and will try to snuff out Presbyterian’s run-heavy attack.

The Blue Hose lost a big part of their secondary in Ed Britt, who had half of their eight interceptions in 2015. Their top four tacklers from last year are all gone.

Central Michigan.

Special Teams Edge

Presbyterian’s 486 return yards allowed were the fewest in FCS last season. Central Michigan finished 115th in the country in that category.


Coaching Edge

Bonamego led the Chippewas to a 7-6 record and an appearance in the Quick Lane Bowl in his first season as head coach after spending the previous 15 years as an NFL assistant. Harold Nichols has more experience in the college game heading into his eighth season at Presbyterian, and was named the Big South’s co-coach of the year in 2014. Bonemego is working with more talent, though.

Central Michigan

Edge In Intangibles

The Chippewas will have the home crowd behind them and that might be enough. The Blue Hose have lost 44 of their last 48 road games dating back to 2007.

Advantage: Central Michigan

Central Michigan vs. Presbyterian Prediction

Final Score: Central Michigan 42, Presbyterian 13

MORE: 2016 College Football Bowl Projections