- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) - Central Michigan knocked off Purdue last weekend behind its rushing attack.

Now it welcomes Syracuse, which gave up 190 of FCS opponent Villanova’s 389 yards on the ground and needed to stop a 2-point conversion attempt in overtime to win its opener.

The host Chippewas (2-0) don’t expect the same kind of ease on the ground Saturday afternoon.

“They’ve got very good players and they’ve had a week to prepare for us, too,” CMU coach Dan Enos said of the Orange (1-0), who were idle last weekend.

“As a coach, that always gets you a little bit nervous.”

He should feel confident with Thomas Rawls in the backfield.

The Michigan transfer had 155 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-17 win at Purdue and caught three passes for 50 yards.

“He’s a very competitive person and he runs that way,” Enos said.

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt completed 10 of his first 17 passes against Villanova before being ejected in the second quarter for punching a Wildcats player. He later apologized to the team and is expected to start this weekend.

Coach Scott Shafer said the opener - Villanova took its FBS hosts to a second overtime - might have been a blessing; especially with the extra week that followed it.

“We came away with an ugly victory. That’s a great thing,” he said. “A victory’s a victory. The key is the response in between.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the response our kids and coaches put on the practice field influences the way we play on Saturday.”

Hunt had 1,638 yards passing and was the team’s second-leading rusher (500) last season, which concerns Enos.

“The quarterback is very athletic and that presents challenges,” he said.

The Chippewas could be missing top receiver Titus Davis, who missed the Purdue game with an injury and was listed day to day Friday.

Here are some other things to look for on Saturday.

REMEMBER WHEN?: Shafer is no stranger to the Mid-American Conference. He was a defensive coordinator at Western Michigan during the 2005 and ‘06 seasons and held the same job at Northern Illinois from 1996 to 2003.

CUTTING IT CLOSE: Syracuse’s past four games, including the 27-26 win over Villanova, have been decided by nine total points. The Orange are 3-1 in those games. They’ve also won the lone meeting with the Chippewas, a 47-7 victory in 1999 at the Carrier Dome.

STINGY ‘D’: Central Michigan had three takeaways at Purdue and rank fifth in the nation with seven. Their six interceptions lead the FBS and they’ve have 13 tackles for loss in their first two wins. The Chippewas are plus-5 in turnover differential.

EARPLUGS: Hunt said he’s sure he’ll hear it from CMU fans after being ejected for throwing a punch in Syracuse’s opener, but said he’ll be ready. “I just have to block everything out when I’m on the field; not focus on it,” he said. “Just go out there and play.”

POSITIVE START: Central Michigan is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2002 season, which began with a three-game winning streak.

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