The Central Michigan Chippewas faces the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship game on Saturday. The last time one of these teams made an appearance in this game was in 2010. That was the year where the RedHawks faced the Northern Illinois Huskies and returned home with a 26-21 victory.
For the Chippewas, it was 2009 when they last appeared in the spotlight. After clinching the West, they played against the Ohio Bobcats and captured the MAC title with a 20-10 victory. The ’09 team was probably the best team to wear the Central Michigan uniform and were led by quarterback Dan LeFevour. This was the only Chippewas team to ever make it in the AP Top 25 Poll with a roster full of play-makers and a few future NFL’ers.
Both teams enter the field with a 6-2 conference record. The Chippewas are 6.5-point favorites in the latest odds that also predict an over-under for total points scored of 54 points. They are also 3-0 in MAC Championship appearances, their last one being in 2009. The game will be held in the Ford Field in Detroit and the game is set to start at noon.
Miami Ohio Redhawks
The Redhawks enter the game with a 7-5 record with only two losses in their conference. Their last game was a 41-27 loss against Ball State after the Redhawks had already clinched the East division.
Miami (OH)’s offense has been good this season, averaging 27 points per game in conference play. Their offense is led by true freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert who was named MAC Freshman of the Week. The freshman starter enters the game with a 54 percent completion rate. He is throwing for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Their offense is also not known for not throwing the ball, having the second-fewest pass attempts in the season with 279. Joining Gabbert in the line of scrimmage are running backs Jaylon Bester and Tyre Shelton who have combined for 13 touchdowns and 1,117 yards.
Another player contributing to their success is senior defensive lineman Doug Costin. He currently has 11.5 tackles for a loss, tying for second in his team, with 3.5 registered sacks. He is one of six team members with at least three sacks.
And while rushing the ball has been working so far, Miami might struggle against Central Michigan if they follow their usual plan. The Chippewas rank second in the MAC and 22nd in the FBS against the running game.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Central Michigan caught everyone by surprise this season after turning around what seemed to be a lost football program. The Chippewas finished their 2018 season with a 1-11 record, the worst in program history. That year the team did not have any wins over their FBS competition.
This year the team showed a lot of improvement by having one of the most efficient offenses in the MAC, scoring 32.8 points on average per game. This is the first time they have secured the MAC West title since 2009 when they went all the way to the championship game. This happened after they topped Toledo with a 49-7 victory last weekend.
And the person behind this offensive improvement is none other than their new head coach, Jim McElwain. McElwain has been a key element in the Chippewas’ success after replacing John Bonamego following their disappointing 2018 season. His work with the team was worth recognition, earning McElwain the MAC Coach of the Year.
Helping him on the sidelines is offensive coordinator Charlie Frye who has completely taken advantage of the skillset brought by senior quarterback transfer Quinten Dormady. The Vol’s transfer joined Central Michigan’s roster after circumstances did not allow him to keep the starter position in previous teams.
When asked about Dormady, McElwain recognized that he has played a big part in his team’s success.
“I’m really glad he chose to come here,” McElwain said. “He’s one of the reasons that we’re playing this weekend.”
Dormady enters the game with a 67 percent completion rate and averages nearly 240 passing yards per game. His go-to receiver is sophomore wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton who leads the MAC in receptions and yards with 71 and 771 respectively.