The Central Connecticut Blue Devils haven’t played football since 2019. The school chose to forgo the 2021 Northeast Conference (NEC) spring football season which began months ago. Ultimately, when the Blue Devils line up against the Canes on Saturday, September 25, 2021, they’ll only have three games (Southern Connecticut State, Central Connecticut State, and Southeastern Louisiana) to find their rhythm. While after their first two matchups, they may come into Hard Rock Stadium as the Connecticut State champions, they’ll be facing wildly tougher than they have in years.
In 2021, CCSU’s only non-conference road game on their schedule will be the Hurricanes. The September meeting will be the first between the programs. The game will also be CCSU’s first time facing an ACC opponent since they took on the Syracuse Orange in 2017. Syracuse won that matchup 50-17. If you recall, that was the same season an Malik Rosier and Ahmmon Richards-led Hurricanes squad (ranked 8th) defeated the Orange 27-19 to continue a 11-game winning streak.
The last full season for the Blue Devils was a pretty good one. In coach Ryan McCarthy’s first season (2019), CCSU claimed their sixth Northeast Conference title in school history. They also posted an 11-2 overall record, which was another historical best. They were also ranked in the FCS Top 25. Their only loss on the season was against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The 34-29 near win concluded with a shocking Eastern Michigan blocked punt. The punt was returned for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the game. At the end of the season, coach Ryan McCarthy was honored as NEC Co-Coach of the Year. Also, former QB Aaron Winchester was named the NEC’s Offensive Player of the Year. Winchester was also a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
Miami will be CCSU’s 3rd FBS opponent in recent years (Syracuse in 2017, Ball State Cardinals in 2018, and Eastern Michigan in 2019). They were scheduled to play Toledo Rockets in 2020 (did not play) and they will also take on Connecticut Huskies in 2022 and 2025.
CCSU is 0-3 against the FBS opponents and they finished 2019 with a 42-14 loss to Albany in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Like most of college football, CCSU prioritizes nickel packages on defense and heavy RPO on offense. Since nickel packages are the optimal strategy for the defense, the team prioritizes versatile and tweener players that make their 3-3 base work. One major problem for CCSU when taking on superior opponents is the edge. Their lack of elite pass-rushers who can wreck a team’s pass protection, has left their defense is virtually dead in the water in these matchups. In the last three games against FBS teams, they were outscored 126-52. No offense, even a serviceable one, can stay in a game when a team gives up that many points.
Their success in the NEC in 2019 however has brought some statistical success. They averaged 414 yards per game (213.9 rushing yards and 200.1 passing yards), 33 points a game, allowed just 283.5 yards a game, totaled 5.2 yards per rush, and had a wildly successful red zone percentage of 73%.
Honestly, this game has every chance to be 2019 Bethune-Cookman (63-0) bad. Outside of the year off of playing football, CCSU just doesn’t have one advantage in this game. By the end of this game, Miami will be boosted in every statistical category. Frankly, after taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, and the Michigan State Spartans, it’s just the kind of matchup the Canes will need.
By the end of the CCSU game, what do you think the Canes’ record for the season will be?
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