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Central Michigan at Purdue Preview

After tying last year's win total Purdue looks to double it on Saturday.


It is not going to be as bad as last year.

The Boilers still have their FCS opponent left on the schedule, and that is a game that should be a victory under any circumstances. With a win already under our belts it is time to get some momentum going, especially with Notre Dame coming up next week.

The Chippewas of Central Michigan were 6-6 a year ago and have had some recent success against the Big Ten. They have beaten Iowa, Michigan State, and Indiana in recent seasons, so they are a little dangerous. They also do not have the infamous Dan LeFevour, who, if you'll remember, scared the bejesus out of us three times in 14 games back in 2007-08.

They are better than Western Michigan, however. They are a more experienced team that has some definite talent and they could be a contender this season in the MAC West if the cards fall right. It is the type of game that an improving Purdue team wins and gains confidence because it will come over a better opponent than in week 1. It is also the type of game that is usually a MAC-over-B1G upset.

Who to watch on offense:

Titus Davis - Wide Receiver - The senior receiver is not just one of the best in the MAC, he is one of the best in the country. He also sprained his knee in last week's opener on a punt return and is listed as day-to-day. It is questionable if he will play at all against Purdue and, honestly, that's not a bad thing if he doesn't. Last season he had 61 receptions for 1,109 yards and eight touchdowns. Remember Corey Davis from last week? This is his older, better brother.

Thomas Rawls - Running Back - Rawls had a solid week in the 20-16 win over Chattanooga. He finished with 123 yards on 20 carries plus a touchdown. He has not played a ton in his career, but his opening game against Chattanooga was by far the best of his career.

Cooper Rush - Quarterback - The numbers were not eye-popping last week, but he was efficient, much like our own Danny Etling. He was 15 of 26 with no picks and TDs for 173 yards. Central likes to balance between the run and the pass, and Rush can run a bit as well. He ran for 13 yards on seven carries.

Jesse Kroll - Wide Receiver - Kroll had three catches for 65 yards and a score last week.

Courtney Williams - Wide Receiver - Williams seemed to have the best day once Davis was out with four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Who to watch on defense:

Tonny Annese - Defensive Back - Annese was part of a secondary that intercepted Chattanooga four times. He had two of them, but did not gain return yards on either one.

Justin Cherocci - Linebacker - The senior linebacker was very prominent defensively last week with 11 tackles. Since most of those were assisted tackles he seems to go wherever the ball is.

Jabari Dean - Defensive Tackle - Dean was in on five tackles against Chattanooga and also blocked a kick.

Who to watch on special teams:

Ron Coluzzi -Since Paul Griggs had a very good week in week 1 I think we can consider him as a weapon now. Coluzzi... not so much. Coluzzi handled both punting and kicking duties and struggled at both. He averaged only 37.8 yards per kick on punts and he missed field goals of 43 and 23 yards.

What to see overall:

As I said, this is going to be a very interesting game. If Davis is out or even limited that is a huge bonus for Purdue. He is the type of receiver that has given us fits in the past because I can see him wandering inexplicably wide open over the middle of the field on 3rd and 12 all day long. Without him, Central is missing a major weapon.

Even without him Central is still a dangerous team, mostly because we haven't seen enough from Purdue to automatically count any opponent as a win. They are not quite Northern Illinois from last year, but if Purdue is not entirely focus the Boilers could lose. Many of these MAC-over-B1G upsets happen because the MAC team has the ability to grind the clock and move the ball with consistency. I could see a slow start for both teams, then lengthy, steady TD drives for Central sandwiched around an ugly three-and-out for Purdue. Suddenly it is then something like 14-3 Central and the Purdue offense needs to get something going before the Chips really take control.

I was hoping for a little more confident of a victory last week over Western, but what we got was something in the middle. We saw enough to learn that there is improvement, but we also saw enough to learn there is a long way to go. The goal this week is more improvement. Central Michigan is far from unbeatable. They struggled against an FCS opponent last week, but after falling behind early they responded for a comeback win without one of their top players. That is resiliency that Purdue does not quite have yet.

Is Purdue better than Chattanooga? I would hope so. The Mocs barely managed 250 yards of offense and still had a 16-0 lead at one point. I am confident that Purdue cane move the ball better than them because we actually showed we could move the ball period against Western.

I think we're going to see a competitive game on Saturday. Neither team is going to blow the other out, though if Purdue found a way to win by multiple scores that would be a pleasant surprise. What I want to see is continued improvement and this team gain some confidence heading into Notre Dame. We have the unique opportunity of two perfect warm ups before facing the Irish. No one is really watching, so expectations are low, but a lot of work can be done before a major test in Indianapolis. This week will show if there is a chance of an upset next week.

Purdue Keys To The Game:

  • Limit turnovers and stupid mistakes
  • Tighten up the running defense against a better team
  • Danny Etling must improve his accuracy
  • Fewer drops in the passing game
  • Keep finding ways for Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert to get the ball in space
  • Get more pressure on the opposing quarterback


Coming in Friday's B1G preview.