Off the cliff they go...
So Central Michigan ain't quite what she used to be in this post-Dan LeFevour/Butch Jones era, though things are not as bad as that 3-9 record last season suggests. Were they a half dozen wins worse in 2010? Yeah, probably. Nine, though? Nah. They lost five games by a touchdown or less, and that includes narrow losses on the road to a couple of bowl teams (Northwestern and Temple**).
Ryan Radcliff was solid in general in taking over the quarterback duties--he threw for over 3300 yards and 17 TDs while completing 60% of his passes. The biggest difference between Radcliff and LeFevour--aside from mobility--was decision-making ability. LeFevour threw 7 INTs in 455 attempts in 2009; in 2010, Radcliff threw 17 picks in 466 attempts. That's a big reason why Central Michigan finished the year with a -11 turnover margin.
Things aren't looking a whole lot different for Radcliff to this point in 2011--he's thrown six picks in five games, and with him the offense has struggled. The 48-point outburst against Northern Illinois aside, points have been hard to come by for this team. They weren't competitive on the road against Michigan State. They were crushed by a Western Michigan team they beat in 2010. They lost by two TDs to Kentucky, which is Kentucky, and gave up 6.3 yards per play to an absolutely lifeless Kentucky offense in the process.
If their fortunes are to change on Saturday, they've got to find some run support, vastly improve their 3rd down efficiency, and Radcliff's got to take good care of the football. Even considering the state of the Wolfpack defensive line, I don't see all of those things coming together for the Chippewas.
(**Temple technically wasn't a bowl team since they didn't get a bowl bid, but the team was 8-4 and clearly deserving.)