With the start of the 2011 college football season less than 2 months away, let's take a brief look at Central Michigan's schedule and their chances of winning each contest. We'll rate each game on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a near-certain victory and 1 being a likely defeat.
Thursday, September 1st vs. South Carolina State - These are the Bulldogs of South Carolina STATE, not the SEC's Gamecocks. As such, CMU shouldn't struggle too much in their home opener. The Bulldogs did go 9-3 last season, but that won't matter. Chance of victory: 9.
Saturday, September 10th at Kentucky - This, on the other hand, IS an SEC opponent. The Wildcats aren't in the upper echelon of the SEC, however. Kentucky loses their starting quarterback to graduation and their best receiver to the NFL draft, two significant losses for a team that went 6-7 last year. Considering CMU was 3-9 last year, it's tough to be overly optimistic about a road game against a SEC school. But this could be an opportunity for the Chips to surprise some people. Chances of victory: 4.
Saturday, September 17th at Western Michigan - Anyone close to the rivalry knows the recent history: CMU has won 5 in a row and 6 of the last 7. Western's excruciating 26-22 loss to Central last year probably cost the Broncos a bowl bid. They remember, they're angry, and if they don't get it done in Kalamazoo this year, when will it ever happen? By the way, a lot of folks expect WMU to be pretty good this year. Of course, we've heard that before. Chances of victory: 5.
After 6 weeks, Central Michigan's record will be:
Saturday, September 24th at Michigan State - The last time CMU traveled to East Lansing, Dan Lefevour & friends left Spartan Stadium with a shocking 29-27 victory. But Lefevour's eligibility is no more, and MSU remembers how it felt to see the Chips celebrating on their field. The Spartans are also coming off an 11-win season and are loaded with talent, starting with senior QB Kirk Cousins. Chances of victory: 3.
Saturday, October 1st vs. Northern Illinois - The Huskies pounded CMU 33-7 in last year's meeting, and NIU is expected to contend for the MAC title in 2011. The rest of the conference had to be in awe watching NIU destroy Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl, and senior QB Chandler Harnisch is coming off of a fantastic 2010 campaign. CMU will need their best effort if they want to defend their home turf in this one. Chances of victory: 4.
Saturday, October 8 at North Carolina State - Like the Huskies, NC State capped a fine 2010 season by pummeling their opponent in a bowl game. In beating West Virginia 23-7, the Wolfpack wrapped up their first 9-win season since 2002. However, Russell Wilson will be playing quarterback for Wisconsin this year, meaning NCSU needs to find an answer under center. Much like the game against Kentucky, there is reason to believe the Chips can compete here. Problem is, CMU beat only Eastern Michigan on the road last season. NCSU is in a different league, even without Wilson. Chances of victory: 3.
The first half of the 2011 will present many challenges for head coach Dan Enos and the Chips. Quite frankly, a record of 2-4 through the first 6 weeks would have to be considered a job well done. The three road games against BCS foes are all tall tasks, and the two MAC games are against teams expected to contend for the league title.