Fresh off one of their worst games in recent memory, Central Michigan will get a chance to rebound against Virginia Tech. Not exactly the opponent a MAC team is looking for coming off a flat performance, but the Chippewas matchup against the Hokies should be a good indicator of where CMU currently sits. KEY VIRGINIA TECH PLAYERS (OFFENSE)
RB Darren Evans -Evans leads the Hokies in rushing with 324 yards and 4 touchdowns on 50 carries. He averages over 6 yards per carry and he is also a capable receiver out of the backfield.
RB David Wilson -Wilson is another talented back in the Hokies stocked stable, and he has been impressive despite having less carries than Evans and Ryan Williams. Wilson has totaled 229 yards and 2 touchdowns on 38 carries and also caught 4 passes for 36 yards on the season.
QB Tyrod Taylor -It seems that as Taylor goes, so does the Hokies offense, and the dual-threat has been getting better each week. While he didn't fill up the stat sheet passing in last week's 41-30 win over NC State (he only had 123 passing yards) he did rush for 121 and he had more carries than any other Hokie in that game. For the season Taylor is 61-99 for 869 yards with a touchdown to interception ratio of 8 to 3. While he can be inconsistent at times, his mobility can cause defenses as his 322 yards rushing through five games has illustrated.
WR Jarrett Boykin -Boykin is the Hokies deep threat at wide receiver and he has more than accomplished his role as he averages over 22 yards per reception. For the season, Boykin has caught 13 passes for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns, and he leads Virginia Tech in just about every receiving category. At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, he is big, fast and a player opponents need to keep an eye on at all times.
LB Bruce Taylor -You don't get much better than the 6-foot-2 and 251 pound Taylor, who has put up monster numbers this season. Through five games he leads the Hokies in tackles (36) and TFL (9.5) and he has also registered 3 sacks. Even though he is just a sophomore, he has proven to be one of the top defensive players in the ACC and he has the ability to put tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
DE Steven Friday -Even though he is undersized at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, Friday is the Hokies top pass rusher and leads the team with 4 sacks. He has also forced 2 fumbles and registered 7.5 TFL.
CB Jayron Hosley -The unquestioned playmaker of the seconday, Hosley leads the team with 4 interceptions and has broken up 5 passes this season. The 5-foot-11 and 180 pound sophomore also serves as the team's primary return man on punt returns.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN AND BALL STATE: BY THE NUMBERS
* Virginia Tech has had 10+ wins every year since 2001 when they went 8-4 * The Hokies average 207.6 yards rushing per game * Central Michigan gave up over 300 yards rushing to Ball State last week * Virginia Tech has been outscored 41-13 in the first quarter through the first five games * Central Michigan is averaging 7 penalties per game
POINTS PER GAME
Central Michigan: 27.4 Virginia Tech: 31
POINTS PER GAME ALLOWED: Central Michigan: 17.6 Virginia Tech: 22.2
HOW IT SHAKES OUT
As I said in my interview with HokieHaven.com, my heart is telling me that CMU can keep this game close, but there are just so many indicators saying otherwise. CMU has typically struggled with mobile quarterbacks in the past, and Tyrod Taylor may be the best they have ever seen. Then you factor in Virginia Tech's seemingly endless supply of talented running backs and a CMU defense that is banged up and wounded off a terrible defensive effort last week and things just don't look good.
And as I've said before in CMU's big games, the running game has not developed to the point where CMU can take pressure off quarterback Ryan Radcliff, and until that happens he will need to step up and win these types of games, something he has come close to(Temple, Northwestern), but not yet accomplished. At this point in his career it's probably too much to ask Radcliff to break the huddle in Blacksburg and lead CMU to arguably one of the top five college football programs in the past decade, so his job will be to keep it close and to rebound from a shaky performance last week.
I think CMU keeps this one close during the first half barring a ton of turnovers, but this is just a tough matchup and there is no way Virginia Tech is going to sleepwalk like they did in their loss to FCS James Madison.