Central Michigan vs Tulsa
Miami Gardens, FL.
BT Sport/ESPN (730pm)
The scenic surroundings of Marlins Park, home of Miami’s famous MLB franchise, welcomes two teams who have both done substantial damage to their opponents this season. Tulsa come into this one on the back of an excellent season, having put together eight victories in the last ten games to leap to a 9-3 record, improving from last season’s 6-7 finish. Head Coach Phillip Montgomery’s Hurricanes finished second only to Navy in the American Athletic West division, in this his second year, largely on the back of their outstanding running duo of senior Kelvin Flanders and junior De’Angelo Brewer, both if whom are averaging over 100 yards each per game. The Hurricanes boast the fifth best offensive unit in the country and have enough at the wide receiver position to hurt their opponents.
Having upset a strong Oklahoma State on the road with that hail mary play and lateral to win the game at the death that made the headlines in week two, the Chippewas failed to maintain momentum and unlike Tulsa, endured a contrasting season, tasting defeat six times in their final ten outings. Having gone a pleasing 7-6 twelve months ago, John Bonamego’s team only reached
.500 this time around and just 3-5 in the MAC, leaving them marooned in second to last position, but maintained bowl eligibility. While they boast a dangerous passing offense at times of their own, they face a Tulsa defence who have endured their struggles defending the pass.
Keep an eye on NFL Draft prospect #10 QB Cooper Rush, who boasts an NFL body and strong frame. He possesses good footwork in the pocket and enough athleticism to be a threat with his legs when absolutely necessary. Rush proved his ability when faced against Oklahoma State’s talented defence this season, showing off his deep throwing ability with the last gasp hail mary and an impressive 70% accuracy on the day to add to his four touchdowns to just one pick.
Hugely prolific during his career, Rush has thrown over 10 interceptions in each year of his career, so will need to prove his consistency this draft season. The Chippewas’ #18 FS Tony Annesse has the ability to play on Sundays and like Cooper will be something of a sleeper to keep an eye on this spring. A hard hitting talent at the position who can cover much ground in the secondary against the pass.
For the Hurricanes, keep an eye on senior #2 Slot WR Keevan Lucas who has produced an impressive campaign, filling the shoes of the outstanding Keyarris Garrett, who was lost to the NFL in the spring. Lucas has been QB Dane Evans’ go-to receiver this season, catching 74 passes for no less than 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tulsa. The Hurricanes spread offense, powered by that dominant running game duo of Flanders and Brewer will be able to outscore Central Michigan in what promises to be a shoot out in Miami. If you like high scoring football, you’ll enjoy this one and fall for a draft sleeper in the process.
Photo Credit: Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports