Another college football season is upon us. Outside of the big boys in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, the rest of Michigan are primed and ready to go for the 2016 season. This season, you can follow along with us and stay up to date on all the college football happening in the Mitten State, the teams not named Spartans and Wolverines.
Can the Broncos continue to row the boat out in Kalamazoo and earn a third straight bowl bid? Will the Chippewas and quarterback Cooper Rush find their way back to the top of the Mid-American Conference? And can the Eagles finally get the program get back on track? All of that and more as we dive into the Week 1 preview.
The Central Michigan Chippewas have had moderate success in recent years. They’ve posted consecutive 7-5 seasons in each of the last two years, but lost both bowl games they appeared in. The offense should be a potent one with quarterback Cooper Rush returning for his senior season along with CMU’s top four wide receivers returning, headlined by fellow senior Jesse Kroll.
The graduation and promotion to the NFL of former safety standout Kavone Frazier opens the door for some new play-makers on the defensive side of the ball for Central. One guy who should have no problems filling in is redshirt senior Tony Annese, who was second to Frazier in tackles a season ago with 84. Annese is one of nine upperclassmen on the Chips defense this year.
CMU will open up its 2016 slate against Presbyterian of the Big South at the FCS level. The Blue Hose finished just 2-9 last season after finishing 6-5 in 2014.
(Kickoff: THURS 9/1 @ 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3)
Unfortunately, things on the gridiron on Ypsilanti could not be going much worse than they have in recent years. The Eastern Michigan Eagles are going through some dark days, having gone 1-11 in 2015 and are just 7-41 in their last four seasons. 1995 was the last time EMU finished with a winning record and you have to go all the way back to 1987 the last time they appeared in a bowl game.
No matter, football will carry on at Eastern Michigan and for the foreseeable future, as head coach Chris Creighton, now in his third season with the program has an uphill climb to say the very least. To open the 2016 campaign, the Eagles will play host to FCS opponent Mississippi Valley State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Much like EMU, the Delta Devils of MVSU have not fared well in recent years, just 5-28 in the last three seasons. In theory, it should be a fairly winnable game for the Eagles but that remains to be seen.
(Kickoff: FRI 9/2 @ 6 p.m. ET on ESPN3)
Hats off to what Western Michigan Broncos head coach P.J. Fleck has done each of the last two seasons, going 8-5 and revitalizing the Bronco football program. On the rise, Fleck has taken WMU to a bowl game in consecutive years for the first time in school history, notching their first bowl win in program history in 2015.
There’s plenty of reason to be excited for the WMU 2016 season. On offense, quaterback Zach Terrell and superstar wideout Corey Davis are back for one more season. The active leader with 3,778 career receiving yards, Davis was 5th in FBS a season ago hauling in 1,436 worth of yards and opted to return for a senior year. Davis will need some help though, now that his partner opposite of Terrell, Daniel Braverman, has graduated. Also, sophomore running back Jamauri Bogan ran for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2015, look for him to increase his workload.
Unlike the other ‘directional’ Michigan schools, WMU does not open up against an FCS opponent (that’s for Weeks 2 and 4). The Broncos however will challenge themselves in Week 1 with a trip to Evanston, IL and face the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats. The ‘Cats had a remarkable 10-3 season in 2015 and likely will contend again in the Big Ten West division this year.
(Kickoff: SAT 9/3 @ noon on ESPNU)