Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan Falls To Michigan St., 26-13

The WMU Broncos opened their season Friday night. They fought hard, but it wasn't enough as the team fell to Michigan St. in the season opener.

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MSU downs WMU 26-13 despite decent Bronco showing

Even at a 1 am press conference in a construction trailer for a game his team lost, P.J. Fleck is upbeat.  Why wouldn't he be though?  His offense put up 13* points on a vaunted Michigan State defense.  His defense held a Big Ten team relatively in check, especially with a few short fields.  His team was a 4 touchdown underdog, and covered the spread, by half!

"We aren't proud of the end result, but I'm very proud of our guys tonight," Fleck said.  "We laid the foundation tonight with our HOW, and it's how we played that I'm proud of."

Sure the Broncos ended up with a mere 11 yards rushing on 27 attempts.  Sure they turned the ball over 4 times (3 INTs,  1 fumble lost), with two immediately resulting in Spartan defensive touchdowns.  Sure they only went 18-for-48 throwing for 193 yards.  But at the same time, Western Michigan held a Big Ten team to 4.3 yards/carry (much better than previous years), forced Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook to just 17-for-37 throwing for 116 yards, and forced a fumble.  They forced Michigan State to punt a near team record 11 times, and held MSU to just 5/19 on 3rd down attempts.

After struggling mightily in the first quarter, a quarter which saw the Broncos gain just 35 yards and have Tyler VanTubbergen throw two interceptions, including a pick-pitch-6, mother nature helped the Broncos regroup.  A 56 minute weather delay due to lightning (the 2nd time this has happened in the last 3 openers for WMU) allowed Western Michigan to seemingly regroup, as they promptly came out from the break and started moving the ball with consistency.

After a failed drive that finally put the ball in Spartan territory, TVT moved the ball down field all the way to the MSU 14.  However, his night would soon be over due to an apparent concussion after trying to scramble for yards on a 2nd-and-10.  Freshman back-up QB Zach Terrell didn't miss a beat though, throwing a 14 yard TD pass to Clark Mussman to tie the game at 7 in his first career snap.

Michigan State would slowly retake the momentum though, slowing the Bronco offense again, and getting a 2-minute offense TD right before the half to take a 13-7 lead (botched snap on the PAT).  The 3rd quarter would continue to see the Broncos struggle offensively, but the defense held tough.  With 2 short fields in a span of 3 drives, the WMU defense kept the Spartans out of the end zone, and even had a chance at a turnover, allowing two short field goals.

The fourth quarter would see much more of the same game, as Terrell was finally forced into a big mistake trying to make a play.  Staying in the pocket, he was rocked for a fumble, which Shilique Calhoun returned 16 yards for the 26-7 lead, and seemingly the nail in the coffin for the game.  Terrell would add a late TD pass to stellar freshman Corey Davis, but it was too little too late at that point.

TVT finished with a 6-for-20 line for 73 yards and 2 interceptions, but seemed to be hitting his stride before going down.  Terrell had a decent 12-for-28 line for 120 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT coming off the bench.  Brian Fields led all Bronco rushing with a mere 24 yards on 12 carries.  Davis led the WMU receiving corps with 8 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

As for the Spartans, Andrew Maxwell was in and out of the game all night with coach Mark Dantonio seeming to split time between Cook and the senior QB regardless of the situation.  Maxwell finished going 11-for-21 for 74 yards and 5 yards rushing while Cook went 6-for-16 for 42 yards but had 35 yards rushing on 4 carries.  Jeremy Langford came out in the 2nd half finishing with a decent 20 carries for 94 yards and a TD.  No Spartan receiver had more than 34 yards, in a "balanced" attack.

Defensively, Donald Celiscar led the Broncos with 10 tackles and had 2 pass break-ups.  Johnnie Simon had the lone sack on the night.  Max Bullough led the Spartans with 9 tackles including 2.5 TFL.  Jairus Jones had 2 INTs, including one he pitched to Kurtis Drummond for the first touchdown of the game.  Drummond finished with 1 INT, that you probably saw on SportsCenter last night.

So now the Broncos must prepare for a weaker FCS opponent in Nicholls State.  It will be the 3rd time in 4 years that the two teams will have met at Waldo Stadium.  The biggest question going forward, however, will be if TVT can play, or if Terrell will be given the reigns to the Bronco offense.  Either way, you can be sure that Fleck will have his team "rowing".


MSU grows lead, 19-7 after 3 quarters

Despite a costly INT, and a huge punt return, MSU was only able to expand their lead to 12 with a pair of short field goals in the 3rd quarter.  Zach Terrell, playing well in relief of TVT, has added some mobility to the Bronco offense, but has failed to get anything going against the tough Spartan defense in the 3rd.

Meanwhile, the Spartans have had some success, but have been stiffled trying to get back to the end zone, being stopped from 3 and 13 yards out on 2 drives.  Those ended in 20 and 30 yard FGs respectively, and that was all the scoring in the 3rd.

With 15 minutes to go, the Broncos must find some offense or miss out on a possible upset.  Regardless, they have exceeded expectations defensively, holding Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook relatively in check, and have held Spartan rushing attack down most of the night.


WMU & MSU trade blows, Spartans lead 13-7 at half

After a 56 minute rain delay, the Western Michigan Broncos promptly found their offense moving the ball into MSU territory for the first time all night before being forced to punt.  After a quick MSU 3-and-out, the Broncos put together a scoring drive, but not before losing starting quarterback Tyler VanTubbergen (presumably) for the night due to an apparent concussion.

Back-up QB Zach Terrell came in on 3rd and 10 and threw a 14 yd strike to TE Clark Mussman for the game's first offensive score for either team, tying the game at 7.

However, MSU would respond.  After a dropped pass ended the responding Spartan drive, the Broncos went 3-and-out, and Andrew Maxwell and company ran a perfect two-minute offense (with some help from some Bronco penalties on a couple passes).  The end result was a 2 yard touchdown rush for Jeremy Langford with 22 seconds left in the half.  MSU would botch the snap though, and would only take a 13-7 lead.

Like I said, TVT is highly unlikely to return, needing a lot of help to walk off the field into the tunnel.  He was being administered the concussion test shortly after his injury.  A huge blow to the Broncos, as he seemed to be turning his game around after a horrid pre-delay game.

Now for some halftime stats:

TVT - 6/20, 73 yds, 2 INTs
Zach Terrell - 2/4, 19 yds, 1 TD

Brian Fields - 5 rushes, 18 yds

Timmy Keith - 2 catches, 52 yds
Clark Mussman - 1 catch, 14 yds, 1 TD

Andrew Maxwell - 11/16, 74 yds
Jeremy Langford - 12 rushes, 39 yds, 1 TD, 2 catches, 7 yds
Bennie Fowler - 3 catches, 34 yds
Keith Mumphery - 3 catches, 20 yds
Aaron Burbridge - 3 catches, 15 yds

MSU: 163
WMU:  111

WMU:  2
MSU:  0

MSU:  19:00
WMU:  11:00


WMU/MSU under a weather delay

We are now under a lightning delay in East Lansing.  Moments after an apparent lightning strike, and series of flashes suspended the game with 11:19 to go in the 2nd quarter with WMU facing a 3rd and 10 at their own 30 yard line.

WMU has still struggled to move the ball on the stingy MSU defense, but with a strong defensive showing (0 pts allowed, 92 yds allowed, 5 punts on 5 drives), the Broncos are still in this game.

Some stats:

TVT - 4/15, 25 yds, 2 INTs, 1 rush, -1 yds
Brian Fields - 4 rush, 7 yds,
Corey Davis - 1 catch, 16 yds

Andrew Maxwell - 6/9, 30 yds, 1 rush, 7 yds
Connor Cook - 2/6, 16 yds, 1 rush, 10 yds
Riley Bullough - 4 rush, 13 yds, 1 catch, 7 yds

Kurtis Drummond - 1 INT, 1 TD
Jairus Jones, 1 INT, 1 pitch for a TD


MSU defense holding Broncos in check after 1

The vaunted MSU defense has dominated the Broncos in the first 15 minutes, holding them to a mere 31 yards and forcing 2 INTs.  You may see both INTs on SportsCenter tonight as one was a lateral for a TD, and the other was an insane one-hander.

TVT struggled, going just 4/11 for 25 yds along with those INTs, and the Bronco running game has yet to get started.

However, this game is just 7-0 thanks in a large part to the Bronco defense, who has bent, but not broken, forcing 3 punts and currently hold a 3rd and 7 in MSU territory.  Give them major credit despite a horrific offensive showing thus far.

Connor Cook has replaced Andrew Maxwell at MSU QB already, and MSU has only gained 75 total yards themselves despite an 8:55 time of possession mark


WMU @ MSU Preview: Q&A with The Only Colors

It's finally football season. P.J. Fleck and his Western Michigan Broncos start their maiden voyage on the road at the always difficult Michigan State.

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