The Central Michigan Chippewas are 1-1. In week one they fell at Michigan State 31-7 and last week, in a track meet they outlasted New Hampshire at home 45-42. 4-8 a year ago, they are coached by Jim McElwain now in his 4th season. McElwain took the Central Michigan job in 2019 after stints at Colorado State and Florida.
The Chippewas return 13 starters, 4 on offense, 9 on defense.
Dual threat Freshman Bert Emanuel Jr. is the triggerman. Through 2 games he is 18-36 for 280 yards, with 3 TDs and 3 INTs. He is also the Chippewas leading rusher with 142 yards and 2 TDs on 38 carries. Against New Hampshire, Emanuel scored on a 66 yard run on the games opening drive.
Junior running back Myles Bailey has the most carries at 26 for 127 yards. And 6-3 Sophomore Chris Parker is their leading receiver so far with 5 catches, 1 Td and 142 yards.
Against Michigan State, the Chippewa offensive line looked suspect. On 25 passing attempts they gave up 19 pressures and 3 sacks. New Hampshire last week also notched 3 sacks.
On the defensive side of the ball leading tackler from 2022, linebacker Kyle Moretti is solid, as are tackles Jacques Bristol and Robi Stuart. Junior cornerback Donte Kent is experienced and was first team all-conference last year. He finished 2022 with 15 passes defended, the 3rd best mark in the nation. Through two games Kent leads the Chippewas in tackles with 20. It is worth saying that it is not always a good sign when a cornerback leads the team in tackles.
As the Michigan State opener indicated, The Central Michigan roster, that includes 20 transfers does not match up well to the power five level. The best example of this may be at the quarterback position. The Chippewas are starting a freshman who has made two starts, that is light years different from what the Irish have in Sam Hartman.
Coming off a physical road win over NC state, and with Ohio State right around the corner, keep in mind, this could be a trap game for the Irish. But Marcus Freeman has shown significant progress as a coach since last season’s rollercoaster ride. The feeling here is that Freeman will have the Irish properly dialed in.
The Irish are favored by 34.5 points and the over under is 52.
The Fighting Irish Preview pick: ND 40 Central Michigan 14