Central Michigan and Akron. Well, we've come down to the bottom of the barrel. Rather than taking up too much space by analyzing each opponent for each of these teams, I'll just give a quick rundown.
First off is Central Michigan. Here's their schedule:
|9/28||@ NC State|
|10/5||@ Miami (OH)|
|11/6||@ Ball State|
|11/16||@ Western Michigan|
Central Michigan has actually been a legitimate MAC team in recent years, most notably between 2004 and 2012 under the Brian Kelly/Butch Jones regime, and with Dan LeFevour as quarterback. The 2013 squad's QB situation is up for grabs at this point, but head coach Dan Enos hopes to make a decision soon. The team will be returning its leading receiver, Titus Davis, and his 20 yards per catch average (which led the nation in 2012); and they will also see the return of leading rusher Zurlon Tipton, who rushed for 1,492 yards last year.
The Chippewas went 7-6 in 2012, but they had only two "signature" wins: at Iowa and against Western Kentucky in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. Of the six losses from last year, they rematch four in 2013: Toledo, Northern Illinois, Ball State, and Western Michigan. The combined 2012 record of the above teams was 75-77, but that's with only five wins among UNLV, UMass, and Eastern Michigan. The Chips can expect about six or seven wins in 2013.
|9/28||@ Bowling Green|
|10/12||@ Northern Illinois|
|10/19||@ Miami (OH)|
Oh, boy, this is a tough one. If you look at Akron's performance during the same 2004-2012 time period that saw Central Michigan remain quite competitive, you'll see a team take a pretty steady nosedive into horror. The Zips had six wins in '04, seven in '05, but then things went down hill from there, including posting three consecutive one-win seasons from 2010 to 2012. I'm sure some of the players on this team are hoping that the Hyperloop can get them the hell out of Akron, but Terry Bowden is actually a decent coach who had been out of the game for a decade before taking over at North Alabama. He subsequently built a 29-9 record in three years and brought the team to three D-II playoffs, which led to his hiring by Akron. It's hard to believe that he can't squeeze a few more wins out of the Zips, but it's going to be a tall order. The combined record from 2012 for the teams on Akron's schedule this year, was 97-58. This would look even worse if UMass had won more than one game last year. I wouldn't expect more than two or three wins this year.
Conclusion: The Zips and the Chips will have a hard time getting out of the Big House after running up against a Michigan team that will be dead set on destruction.