Each time Central Michigan takes on Michigan State it brings back memories for Jason Klink.
The Capac wrestling coach was a member of the CMU football team from 1988-92, and was 2-0 against the Spartans, as the Chippewas pulled off upsets in Spartan Stadium in 1991 and 1992. CMU won 20-3 against the No. 18 Spartans in 1991, and 24-20 in 1992. Klink played in the 1991 game, but was injured for the 1992 game.
“It was pretty awesome,” Klink, a 1988 Port Huron Northern graduate, said. “That was when George Perles was the coach (at MSU) and they were kind of known for being a hard-nosed, smashmouth team on offense, and then just an iron wall on defense. We were really the same thing. In (1990), we were (Mid-American Conference) champs, so coming into that 91 year, we were a pretty good team.
“I’m still really pretty close with the guys that were all on that team. I keep in contact with a lot of them.”
CMU will travel to MSU against Saturday for a nonconference matchup. Much like in 1991, CMU is a heavy underdog, as this year State is the No. 2 team in the country. But the Chippewas have won at Spartan Stadium since those two upset wins Klink was a part of, as they also stunned MSU in 2009.
Because of that, conventional wisdom says that MSU will never sleep on the Chippewas. The Chippewas don’t think that matters, though. It certainly didn’t in 1992.
“That whole previous year after that game, a lot of the talk was it was a fluke, that we were lucky that it shouldn’t have happened,” Klink, who played special teams and was a backup center for the Chippewas, said. “That same group of guys came in with a chip on their shoulder.”
CMU was as good in the early 1990s as it has been as a Division I program, with the recent Brian Kelly and Butch Jones years being the only rival of that era. Not only did the Chippewas have quality players, but also a very good coaching staff led by CMU legend Herb Deromedi. Klink’s offensive line coach, Paul Alexander, is currently the offensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, and has been in the position for more than 20 years.
There’s also the chip on the shoulder that Klink mentioned, which can never be underestimated.
“We walked out on the field that day and just kind of looked around and said, ‘OK,’” Klink said. “A lot of the guys on that team, and the same with Western and Eastern, have a chip on your shoulder. You were recruited by all of those schools.
“I think after the first series or two, we felt we could play with them. They were a good team coming into that game, but we came in and we just kind of handled them. I think it was shocking, and we beat them up, too.”
Now, quickly, to this week’s picks.
Central Michigan at No. 2 Michigan State, Big Ten Network: So I just went down memory lane, but I try hard to pick with my head and not my heart here. I do think Mark Chapman will have success against the MSU secondary, and this CMU team has a ton of fight in it. But this is a very good and focused MSU team. Pick: MSU 34-21.
No. 22 BYU at Michigan, noon, ABC: This game is set up well for Michigan. BYU has to travel all the way across the country and play while it’s 10 a.m. in their time zone. The Cougars are coming off a ridiculously emotional three-week stretch, which included two Hail Mary victories and a heart-breaking loss, all against solid opponents. Michigan, meanwhile, has had two weeks at home to sort some stuff out. While the Wolverines still have a long way to go, especially in the passing game, I think they have enough to get through this one. Pick: Michigan 24-20.
Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS: Florida lost its quarterback Treon Harris and cornerback Jalen Tabor to suspensions this week. That should be enough to tip this in Tennessee’s favor, and you can bet that if Butch Jones wins this one, Tennessee fans will forget all about that Oklahoma comeback from a couple weeks ago. Pick: Tennessee 27-20.
Mississippi State at Auburn, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2: Auburn has changed quarterbacks, which should help a woeful offense. The defense is still not great, and Dak Prescott should take full advantage. Pick: Mississippi State 27-24.
No. 9 UCLA at No. 16 Arizona, 8 p.m., ABC: Josh Rosen, on the road, at night. I think he’s fantastic, but he’s a true freshman, and it showed last week in a near loss against BYU. Pick: Arizona 31-21
No. 18 Utah at No. 13 Oregon, 8:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Utah has the type of defensive line that gives the Ducks fits, but it doesn’t have the offense to keep up. Pick: Oregon 28-17.
No. 19 USC at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m., ESPN: USC is licking its wounds from last week, while Arizona State is just flat walking wounded. A late-night game in Tempe should be crazy, though. Pick: Arizona State 34-31.
Last week: 5-2 (71%)
Overall: 18-5 (78%)
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.