It was a dominating performance from Western Michigan on both sides of the ball that helped them land a B1G upset over Northwestern on Saturday. It was their first win over a Big Ten squad since the 2008 Illinois Fighting Illini, and PJ Fleck may have a chance to double up their yearly total in a few short weeks.
Today, though, the focus sticks on this win and the performance of the Western defense more than anything else. In holding Northwestern to 329 total yards, they demonstrated an ability to keep things in front of them and not give up the big play that most MAC schools don’t exhibit. That is a great effort for the defense to build on as the season continues. Western’s offense was equally impressive, especially on 4th downs, where they would go 4-4 on conversion attempts. We see you, PJ Fleck. Respect.
WMU exhibited their dominance all day, and their grind it out attack was the antithesis of MACtion but just the ticket for a Bronco win. The time of possession difference was a WMU advantage by a staggering 20 minutes. That’s unheard of, and reason #1 why this game went Western’s way. Throw in the late turnover as Northwestern was attempting to go ahead in the waning minutes and the boat was rowed successfully this afternoon.
When was it over?
When Western Michigan survived the official review that would rule their recovery of a Northwestern fumble would stand, they needed to simply run the ball and run the clock, both of which they were able to do.
For Western fans, the takeaway is that this 2016 edition of the Broncos may very well be the real deal. No one will confuse Northwestern with a top level FBS program, but a win over a P5 school is a win over a P5 school, no matter the opponent. To overcome some shaky officiating on the road to do so is tremendous.
For the rest of the MAC, this takeaway is that Fleck and the Broncos are more than hype and recruiting rankings. And that’s a bad thing for the rest of the conference. A bad thing, indeed.