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2016 Week 5 Preview: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Central Michigan Chippewas

The MAC season is finally upon us, and it starts with the good stuff.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This year, fans of the Broncos and Chips won’t have to wait long to fight for bragging rights, as Western Michigan and Central Michigan will go at it in the first week of MAC conference play.

The best part? The game will be under the lights and televised on CBS Sports Network. This game will once again have huge MAC West implications on it. Both teams, along with Northern Illinois and Toledo, all tied at 6-2 atop the West last year. That makes starting off on the right foot an imperative.

Western comes into the game 4-0 with victories against Northwestern, North Carolina Central, Illinois, and Georgia Southern.

Central Michigan comes into this game 3-1, with victories against Presbyterian, Oklahoma State, and UNLV. The lone loss suffered by the Chippewas was to Virginia last week.

The offense for Western Michigan is lead by quarterback Zach Terrell, who has been very impressive in the Broncos’ non-conference games. WMU averages about 44 points per game and 469 yards in total offense per game. Terrell has thrown for 893 yards with nine touchdowns, and no interceptions yet on the season.

Corey Davis, younger brother of former Chippewa Titus Davis, has really helped out in his senior campaign. Davis has caught 24 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns so far this season. Corey should hit the all-time MAC receiving record with 7 yards in this game if all goes well.

The Bronco running game is definitely the highlight of the offense. Jamauri Bogan leads the rushing attack with 89 carries for 527 yards and five touchdowns. Bogan looks to give some carries to Jarvion Franklin, who has 48 carries for 213 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Both have more carries then leading Central Michigan running back Devon Spalding, who has only rushed 43 times for 214 yards and only one touchdown.

Speaking of Central Michigan, the Chippewas struggled in last week’s loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, but look to get back on track for the game that really matters for them.

Cooper Rush has thrown for 1,359 yards, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season thus far. With Jesse Kroll now confirmed as done for the season and Mark Chapman to be week-to-week, Rush will have to find a new favorite target. Corey Willis is widely assumed to be the receiver to step up into the WR1 role as he is the current leading receiver for the Chips, with 17 catches for 327 yards for six touchdowns. Brandon Childress and Anthony Rice will also get looks alongside Willis.

As explained earlier, the Chips have struggled to run the ball all season but it really hasn’t seemed to haunt them, until last week. Jonathan Ward has really shined in the running game so maybe something for the Chippewas to think about.

Both teams have a reputation for playing stout defenses. The Broncos and Chippewas have high national marks in run defense and can cause turnovers. Tony Annese, starting safety for the Chippewas, is also a game time decision, meaning that the defense may once again be without their defensive star. Darius Phillips will be the man to watch for the Broncos defense, as he has made a huge impact on the young season for WMU. His ball-hawking abilities have been on full display, especially in the game against Georgia Southern last week.

The game can be watched on CBS Sports Network at 7:00 p.m. EST.