Saturday, November 27, 2010

Live blog: Spartans trying to grab piece of Big Ten championship

By Anthony Fenech
Free Press Special Writer

Free Press special writer Anthony Fenech is live-blogging today's Spartans-Nittany Lions game. Unfortunately, Anthony couldn't catch a ride to Happy Valley, so he'll be bringing you his thoughts off of ESPN 2's telecast.

Feel free to discuss the game with Anthony in the chat below. For those of you on our mobile site, we will post periodic game updates below the chat.

Friday, November 5, 2010

CMU seeking fifth consecutive win against Broncos

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || November 5, 2010

Nick Bellore has been at Central Michigan for four years.

He has played in 50 games, won 30 of those, and has beaten Western Michigan three times.

“Everyone understands how much this means to the community,” he said.

Dan Enos has been at CMU for less than a year.

He has coached in nine games, won two of those, and hasn’t yet played the Broncos.

“I know how important this game is to not only the team, but to the alumni base and the community,” he said.

Both entered this season with lofty goals. A conference championship. A bowl berth. A winning season.

But as the calendar flipped from September to October and now November, those goals have gone by the wayside.

First, the Chippewas were eliminated from championship contention. Then, a winning season went out the window. And after last week’s loss to Bowling Green, a bowl berth became out of reach.

But tonight, at Kelly-Shorts Stadium, the 2-7 Chippewas will have a chance to deliver on what has become an expectation in Mount Pleasant: beating Western Michigan.

“Obviously we haven’t had the kind of success we had hoped for,” said Bellore Wednesday, two days before the final home start of his career. “But this is something we can look back on and be really proud of.”

And both the senior linebacker and rookie head coach know what this rivalry is all about.

“It’s always been a point of emphasis,” said Bellore, who ranks third in CMU history with 451 tackles, just 39 shy of the school record. “I understood exactly what was going on my freshman year in terms of what this meant.”

And his first-year head coach is no different.

“This game has been emphasized since we’ve arrived,” Enos said, noting that the team has taken time in both spring and fall camps to prepare for the game. “We’ve put a lot into this.”

This time around, the script has been somewhat flipped.

The Chippewas enter the game riding a four-game win streak against the Broncos, but sliding on a six-game losing streak of their own this season.

The Broncos come in at 3-5, and fresh off a near-upset of conference-leading Northern Illinois, falling victim to a tipped interception on the game’s final drive.

Still, the game means as much as it did last year, the year before that, or the 80 years before that.
“We all know,” Bellore said, “From freshman to fifth-year seniors, that this is a must-win game and we have approached it that way.”

Enos said practice this week was very physical and very spirited.

“We’re desperate,” he said. “We’ve been desperate for weeks now. We’re hungry for a win, it doesn’t matter if it’s Western – this week just happens to be Western – but we need to get back to our winning ways.”

And a victory would do just that, for both seniors and underclassmen.

“It’s a building block for our program,” Bellore said. “It’s looked on every year and it’s vital we win.”

And for Enos, who will get his first taste of the rivalry, tonight’s game isn’t just another one of a dozen on the season.

“It’s the only way I know how to tackle rivalry games,” he said.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Western Michigan young, but ready for CMU

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || November 3, 2010

Bill Cubit knows he has a young team.

The Western Michigan football coach knows that later this week, when his team arrives in Mount Pleasant, many in the group will be stepping foot into enemy territory for the first time.

“We have so many kids that haven’t been in this rivalry,” he said. “Our biggest thing is just preparing and not getting caught up early in the week on the little things.”

Like beating Central Michigan for the first time in four years. Or doing it on the road. Or coming into the rivalry game with a better record and as possibly as the favorite.

“They’ll get the gist of it when they walk off of the bus on Friday,” he said.

The Broncos are in an unfamiliar position. For the previous four years, they have been an afterthought in the rivalry. Now, thanks to a young and energetic starting quarterback and on the heels of a near-upset of conference-leading Northern Illinois, they have their sights set on ending the losing streak.

Last weekend, in Kalamazoo, sophomore quarterback Alex Carder passed for 360 yards and three scores before a tipped pass fell into the hands of a Huskies defender for a game-killing interception in a 28-21 defeat.

“We just didn’t finish,” Cubit said during the Mid-American Conference teleconference on Monday. “We went ahead late, they put together a great drive and we went down there and were in a position to tie it up. Unfortunately, (Alex) got hit.”

But Carder has been getting hit all year, by the likes of Michigan State and Notre Dame.
And his coach has seen the first-year starter improve “light years” since a season-opening loss in East Lansing.

“He’s kind of like a runaway colt,” Cubit said. “He’s a real energetic, passionate guy. His first college football game, he goes against Michigan State and then Notre Dame, and he rose to the occasion on both.”

The Broncos are 3-5, a game and a half better than the 2-7 Chippewas, and if credit is due to Carder, then it’s also appropriate to accolade wide receiver Jordan White, who leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for the lead with six receiving touchdowns.

“He’s made some unbelievable catches,” Cubit said of White, who injured himself in last week’s loss but kept playing. “It was pretty impressive what he did.”

And it would be pretty impressive to knock off the Chippewas this weekend.

“We have to regroup,” Cubit said. “This is a big rivalry game and going up there is always hard to play. We’re playing a very talented team and every week we have to go out there and play.
“But this week is especially important.”