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Western Michigan Squeaks By UConn

This close.

I know you cannot see my fingers, but imagine the smallest thing you can.  Now go smaller.  Western was THAT close to blowing this game.  I can not tell you what would've happened in overtime, but before Ryan Griffin fumbled at the 13-yard line, UConn looked like they had all the momentum.

A 17-7 WMU lead at the half turned into a 24-17 UConn lead with 12:40 to go in the 4th after Western made mistake after mistake after mistake in a forgettable 3rd quarter.  Western rallied behind Alex Carder, who I must say in all honesty, FINALLY won me over.  Before today, he was a good quarterback.  But today, he led Western and had 3GREAT drives, all resulting in touchdowns.  By the way, if anyone can watch Chleb Ravenell's game-winning TD, please do.  It was a great catch.

More after the jump.......

Alex Carder.  He finally got his first game-winning drive.  Congrats young fella.  How good was he today?  37/51 passing for 479 yards and 5, yes FIVE, TDs.  He technically had -1 rushing yards on 10 carries, but that's with sacks.  He did "lose a fumble" but it's not his fault.  He got NAILED half a second after a snap on a play that is a quick throw.  The Uconn player went unblocked from the line.  It still baffles me.  Luckily that fumble led to a missed field goal.

Jordan White had another huge game.  12 catches for 173 yards and 2 TDs.  However, I have to pause the JW Lovefest.  He had an INCREDIBLY stupid play in the 3rd on a punt.  He chose  not to field a punt, let it go past him, then decided to chase it down.  Bad move.  In that chase, he got behind the ball, came up to it, then decided he didn't want it.  In that decision time, the ball touched his foot, and the UConn player jumped on it.  UConn has the ball at the WMU 22, and the D stays on the field.  The result was the game tying field goal at the time (17-17)

Back to the receiving core.......  Chleb Ravenell had a huge 2nd half.  I don't know his stats from just that half, but they had to be the majority.  9 catches, 123 yards, and 2 TDs, including the game-winner that was awesome.  He wasn't the only big producer.  Robert Arnheim had a great game too.  10 catches for 113 yards, including another great one-hander.  Dallas Walker (Texas Ranger) had a TD  grab too.

Defensively, it was up and down.  Another great first half ruined by a bad 2nd half.  Part of it was the offense not producing and giving the D short fields and short rests, but some of it is on them.  451 yards is bad.  300 yards passing is bad.  151 yards rushing is bad.  Letting the opposing QB set a new school record for passing TDs is bad.  But they came through in the end and got the fumble.

Now lets focus on just the bads.  First, there was no run game.  Again.  Western had 11 yards rushing, and they got all of it at the end of the game when they needed a first down to keep the ball out of UConn's hands.  The running game has to get better, because the pass game can't carry the team forever.

Another dark spot, penalties.  15 for 119 yards.  Let me say that again, 15 penalties.  That's one short of the team record.  This should never happen.  A lot of false starts, two of which stalled out a drive.  Western's first drive of the half put the Broncos at one point  on the UConn 41 with a 3rd and inches.  Two false starts later, it was 3rd and 11.  An incomplete pass to Ravenell forced a punt.

Those penalties don't include a no-call on Aaron Winchester.  Late in the 4th quarter, he decides that he isn't being heard with his smack talking with his helmet on, so he quickly takes it off after a nice stop on 1st down, says what he wants, then puts it back on.  Somehow, that wasn't called for the 15-yard penalty it is.  I have so much I want to say about Aaron Winchester, but he has made some good plays on D this year, so I'll put them in my back pocket until he consistently gets beat.

But the fact remains, Western comes out with a win over an AQ school.  It's a "quality" win, so I'll take it.  Next up?  Bowling Green at home.  Home sweet home.