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Opposition Research: Central Michigan preseason edition

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As we approach the 2019 season, now is a great time to get acquainted with the Wisconsin Badgers opponents this season.

Yes, our Opposition Research feature is back for another season.

Previous Previews: USF |

After looking at the Bulls of USF, it’s time to look at Wisconsin’s first home game of the season and that means a look inside the Central Michigan Chippewas.

What does 2019 hold for the Chips? Let’s take a look at the information you need to know.

Returning Starters: 13 (8 offense, 4 defense, 1 special teams)
Key Losses: Sean Bunting (NFL), Xavier Crawford (NFL), Malik Fountain, Mike Danna

Biggest Offseason Question Mark: How Does McElwain Fit In?

After a season in which this once proud MAC program went winless against FBS opponents, the Chippewas went in a different direction at head coach. Gone was alum Jon Bonamego and in was a big name in Jim McElwain.

Bonamego took the Chips to three-straight bowl games before last season’s disaster, so that track record suggests a cupboard that isn’t fully bare. That said, McElwain is a huge name in college football coaching circles and he’s got his own way of doing things to say the least.

He’s certainly got the alumni base fired up, as they filled the coffers for a new athletic and academic center well ahead of schedule and funded a brand new video screen at the stadium too.

But, does that enthusiasm match what is happening within the program. How does McElwain approach a job that is far below his former stature? Will it be his bounce-back moment or will it be a fail? There are a lot of on-field questions too, especially at quarterback and with the defense.

Can McElwain’s preferred pro-style offense and 4-3 defensive schemes work in the MAC? It will be interesting to see given the “progressive” nature of MAC offenses and defenses.

Biggest Strength: Offensive Line

This one may be a relative term and you’ll find out more in the next segment. But, you can’t win if you can’t play well up front.

In the case of the Chippewas, they will return four players who started in six or more games last year. Additionally, they will add Iowa State transfer Oge Udeogu and Michigan transfer JaRaymond Hall — the later of which was around the program last season.

If you’re looking to change things quickly, having the pieces to win up front is a great place to start. Will that happen is the big question, because injuries and inconsistent play plagued this group overall last season.

CMU averaged just 15 points per game and were second to last in total offense in all of FBS (254.7 ypg). Part of that was on the offensive line, but given all the change happening, this group at least provides some stability.

Biggest Weakness: Defense

This may seem strange if you look only at the stats in 2018, because the Chips defense was very good, giving up just 27.3 points per game in the point-happy MAC.

But, that was with two cornerbacks (Bunting and Crawford) that were NFL caliber and three senior starting linebackers. All three of those players are obviously gone, while both starting cornerbacks were picked in the NFL draft.

Oh, and did I mention that the Chips also lost both starting defensive tackles too? Oh, and the best potential returning player — Mike Danna — left for Michigan and took with him his 66 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss (90 yards) and 2 fumble recoveries.

That means a massive rebuild and a massive loss of talent for the defense heading in to McElwain’s first season in Mt. Pleasant. Is there the talent in place to replace that kind of production?

New defensive coordinator Robb Akey will have his work cut out for him. It’s a good thing he’s got a lot of experience coaching up the defensive line in both college and pro football. He’s going to need it.

Reason to Be Scared:

Honestly, it’s hard to say there is really any reason to be scared of the Chips this season. But, with a new head coach in the mix with a track record of Group of 5 success under his belt, this is a team that may be very different very quickly.

So, if there was a reason to be scared about this matchup, it is the fact that Central Michigan literally has nothing to lose. Will that result in a shocking upset against the Badgers? That’s highly unlikely, but if ever there’s a sliver of hope, it’s in the fact that there’s nowhere to go but up.

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Cephus says he wants to return to Badgers football

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Earlier on Monday we got word from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the status of Quintez Cephus, the student. He was to have his expulsion reversed after the evidence from his acquittal was brought forth to the university.

The only question left was if he would want to return to the university and the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, the speculation was put to an end. Quintez Cephus wants to return to the university and the football team.

During his press conference, Cephus mentioned how he wanted to stay at Wisconsin largely because of the support he got from his teammates and the entire staff of the UW football program.

He also mentioned that he had yet to speak with head coach Paul Chryst face-to-face after this decision was announced, but he would be doing so later in the day on Monday.

Many will also wonder if he’s ready physically and mentally to get back on the football field this season. Well, Cephus has been working out in Arizona for three months straight in anticipation of coming back on the field.

Judging by the video he’s put out, he’s certainly in some good physical condition.

Of course, only time will tell how quickly any and all of this will happen for Cephus and the Badgers. But, Cephus is very clearly focused on not wasting this opportunity and doing things at a very high level.

There are likely a few NCAA hurdles to officially jump through, but I’m also guessing the paperwork was just waiting to be put in motion once the university reinstated him and he gave the go-ahead.

Either way, he will be a welcome sight for an already strong group of wide receivers.

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UW reinstates Quintez Cephus

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A week after Quintez Cephus, his teammates and his attorneys went in front of the cameras to implore the University of Wisconsin-Madison to allow Cephus back in to school, we now have word on his status.

On Monday morning, it was revealed that Cephus was reinstated to the university. UW sent out the following tweet regarding the matter:

In the statement announcing their decision, the university noted that they had received information that wasn’t available during their initial Title IX investigation.

“UW–Madison obtained information following the criminal proceeding that was not provided to the university during the student conduct process, ” said the statement. “Chancellor Rebecca Blank conducted a review of this information and the petition for Quintez Cephus’ reinstatement as quickly as possible and in a complete and impartial manner.

“As a result of this review, sanctions for Quintez Cephus have been reduced and his expulsion lifted. There were findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.”

Chancellor Rebecca Blank had the following to say about the situation.

“All three of the primary participants in this case are our students, and I know the past year has been painful for everyone involved,” said Blank. “My decision is based on the availability of substantial new information that wasn’t made available to us during the earlier process. I recognize that some will disagree with this decision.”

“To those in our community who have experienced sexual assault, I sincerely hope that there is nothing in this case that will deter you from coming forward for support,” she added. “Our university continues to be prepared to listen and respond.”

Cephus had his expulsion lifted, but did not have all sanctions removed from his record. According to the statement, the findings of responsibility of the student non-academic misconduct code that were upheld.

With this reinstatement, Cephus has a decision in front of him. He is free to return to the university and the football team has made it clear they will welcome him back with open arms.

But, does he want to return to UW at all? All indications are that he does want to come back to school, but getting his expulsion lifted would allow him to move on from the university if he so chose.

We will have to wait for more information from the program once everyone has had a chance to make their decisions known.

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Joe Thomas makes CBS Sports All-time All-American list

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College football celebrates is 150th season in 2019 and that necessitates a look back at the history of the sport. That’s exactly what CBS Sports decided to do and they came up with a long list of the best players in college football history.

Given the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers went through long stretches of horrific play and few years of good work prior to 1990, seeing a Badgers name on the list was a long shot.

But, one Badger did make the list and that was famed left tackle Joe Thomas.

He was named to the honorable mention All-Time All-American offensive line category. Center was broken out in to a different group all together as well.

While at Wisconsin, Thomas became the first Badger to win the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s best interior lineman. He also was named to the 2006 first team All-American list and started 39 games in his four years in Madison.

He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after an 11-year career in which he made the Pro Bowl in 10 straight seasons.

Joining him on CBS Sports honorable mention offensive lineman list were Maurkice Pouncey (Florida), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), John Hicks (Ohio State), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska) and Jake Long (Michigan).

Making the first team list were Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), John Hannah (Alabama) and Ron Yary (USC).

On the second team were Anthony Munoz (USC), Bryant McKinnie (Miami), Will Shields (Nebraska) and Tony Boselli (USC).

Those are all some amazing names and gives us all a great reminder of just how great college football has been over the years to be sure.

Thomas is the only Badgers player to make the list, yes including all-time greats like Ron Dayne and Alan Ameche, let alone perhaps the most famous player of the formative years of college football — Pat O’Dea.

Yes, he doesn’t fit neatly in to the mold of a modern college football player, but this was supposed to be a list of the best players to ever grace the field in the history of the game.

It’s very hard to argue that O’Dea wasn’t exactly that in his era. He was a two time All-American in 1898 and 1899 as a punter and a fullback.

If CBS Sports was serious about honoring the entirety of college football, having O’Dea on the list would be a good place to start.

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Badgers unveil throwback unis for Northwestern game

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College football is celebrating its 150th year in 2019 and the Wisconsin Badgers have been playing the game since the 1889 season.

In order to honor some of the history of the game and the program, the Badgers will put on throwback (and I use that term loosely) uniforms according to a video released by the football program on Tuesday afternoon.

It appears that UW is looking back to the days where a simple UW adorned the front of the sweaters, as they were called at the time, in that 1889 season.

Today, regulations say that all teams must include numbers on the front and back of the jersey and thus the conundrum the Badgers find themselves in here.

Interestingly, the helmets will feature a first-time logo with the ‘UW’ having never appeared together in any helmet in Badgers history. Given the fact that back in 1889 there was no such thing as a helmet in the game of football it was an interesting call.

The helmets will also feature just a thin Cardinal stripe down the center and gray face masks.

Personally, I have to say I’m not a fan of cramming the ‘UW’ on to the front of the jersey and it would’ve been interesting to see them go back to the Bucky Badger helmet or something else.

It just looks too congested on the front of the jersey, but I do like the idea of the black shoes, khaki colored pants and the red jersey overall. It does harken back to that era in as much as is possible in today’s modern game.

However, the players were certainly excited for a different-than-normal look to the Badgers uniforms.

The logo on the side of the khaki colored pants is also the one that the athletic department used from 1962 to 1965 according to research.

Wisconsin will take on Northwestern in the Sept. 28 game that will feature these jerseys inside Camp Randall. Northwestern will also have a similar look as part of what Under Armour is calling its Second Heritage line.

What do you think of this ‘throwback’ look? Hit up the comments below or follow on Twitter @talkingBadgers.

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