(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
C. Michigan at W. Michigan–Saturday, October 17th
The annual Michigan Directional All-Star game is sure to be a real treat this year. Each team boasts an NFL-caliber QB: Dan LeFevour for Central and Tim Hiller for Western.
LeFevour burst on to the scene 3 years ago as a freshman, and is still making plays with his arm and feet, throwing for over 2,700 yards and leading the team with 592 rushing yards a year ago. The entire Chippewa scheme begins and ends with #13, so it bodes well that his top three WRs from 2008 return. Throw in the fact that Western’s defense was decimated by graduation and there is a powder keg of offense just waiting to explode here for Central.
The Broncos boast a potential first day selection in Hiller, who checks in at 6’5” and 230 pounds. He has prototypical size and an NFL arm to boot, which he has used to toss for over 8000 yards and 73 TDs in his career. Western will need a few WRs to show up as a few of Hiller’s former targets finished up their education, but their sturdy ground game should help until that time.
This meeting could determine the MAC West champ as well as the MAC Player of the Year, depending on which QB outshines the other.
Rice at Houston–Saturday, November 7th
Houston QB Case Keenum threw for over 5000 yards last year, which is more than he will have to travel for this meeting with Rice. This inter-city rivalry is oozing with offense, as both teams were top 10 scorers a year ago.
Keenum and Co. shredded opposing defenses for over 400 yards through the air and look to do more of the same, as top WRs Tyrone Carrier and Patrick Edwards are back again, along with 1000 yard rusher Bryce Beal. The Cougars should light it up against a Rice defense that was very porous last season, but returns eight starters to its 4-2-5 scheme.
Rice may have a questionable defense, but makes up for it with a high-powered offense that scored 41.3 points a game last season. Star QB Chase Clement is gone but Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi is eligible and will compete. Fanuzzi sounds like he belongs in The Godfather, but he can shoot up opposing corners with a strong arm and good mobility. Only a few WRs return from their 4-wide spread attack, so the Owls may not be a potent as a year ago.
This rivalry game will be a fun one, especially for those that like a lot of points on the scoreboard. So sit back, crack open a cold one, and enjoy two programs on the rise battle it out for the city title.
FAU at FIU–Saturday, December 5th
This isn’t the other Florida rivalry game, it’s the other-other-other-other one. Way down on the totem pole of relevance lie Florida Atlantic and Florida International Universities.
Atlantic has had success and is a budding Sun Belt power, going 2-for-2 in bowl games recently. Senior QB Rusty Smith mans an offense that returns many stars from a team that beat aforementioned Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl last year. The main cause for concern is the offensive line, which will be breaking in 4 new starters, but that might not be so bad considering coach Howard Schnellenberger broke in an entire new program only 9 years ago.
International is a mirror image, returning most of the O-line and defense in addition to much of the skill positions. Utility man T. Y. Hilton can score catching, running, or returning the ball, and the Owls defense will have to watch him on every snap.
Last year this game produced over 100 total points, and this year it could do the same. It should be an exciting match against two newer teams just scratching the surface of their potential.