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MAC Championship Preview

November 30, 2006

Tony Adams previews tonight's Mid-American Conference championship game between the Ohio Bobcats and the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Bobcats can match the performance of the school's most successful team ever with a victory tonight.

Ohio (9-3, 7-1 MAC East) hasn't played in a Bowl game since the 1968 Tangerine Bowl, when the school produced a 10 win season. However, they have accepted an invitation to the GMAC Bowl, and will attend no matter what the outcome of tonight is.

The Bobcats are determined to get another 10 win season, but they will have to do it tonight as 3.5 underdogs. That being said, they are coming in on a high, chasing eight straight wins and showing plenty of confidence on both offense and defense.

It's a far cry from the start of the season when the Bobcats lost three straight games to Rutgers, Missouri and Bowling Green, and looked set for another season of mediocrity. Second year coach, Frank Solich went back to basics and the Bobcats are a much improved outfit from the one that produced a mere four wins in 2005.

Central Michigan, (8-4, 7-1, MAC West) has won six of their last seven games, and will prove formidable opponents for the Bobcats tonight. They have accepted a bid to the Motor City Bowl.

Coach Brian Kelly has gotten the best out of a team not expected to have a winning season, and they have also vastly improved in the last 12 months after a 6-5 record in 2005.

Redshirt freshman, Dan LeFeour has made the quarterback spot his own, ousting last year's starter Brian Brunner, and he has loads of promise at the position. LeFevour threw three touchdown passes in the first half at Buffalo last week, as the Chippewas flexed their muscles to the tune of a 55-28 victory.

The young quarterback was 14-16 for 294 yards in just the first two quarters before being rested for the remainder of the game, with Brunner taking over. Tim Brazzel also stamped himself as a dangerous return man, taking the opening kick-off back for a 79-yard touchdown.

Ohio quarterback, Austen Everson has more experience than his younger rival, but his team tends to play a conservative, rushing-oriented offense. Everson gets a lot of help from running back Kalvin McRae, the team's leading rusher this season with 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns.

McRae was also a standout in last week's 34-24 win over Miami (Ohio). The speedy junior ran in two touchdowns and finished with 180 yards on 22 carries.

The score was tied at 24 in that game in the final quarter before Josh Febus' one-yard scoring run got them out of trouble. Overall though, Ohio looked a little bit out of sync, and will need to improve in a hurry.

Summing Up: The Chippewas won 37-10 when the teams met last season, but a lot has changed since then. Riding a wave of momentum after seven straight wins, the Bobcats have a good chance to spring a small upset.

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