Tomorrow at 7pm ET, the Western Michigan Broncos will host the North Carolina Central Eagles of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Western is obviously coming off a B1G win over Northwestern (WMU’s first win over that conference since ‘08), but the Eagles are going to try to recover from a 49-6 blowout at the hands of Duke.
In that game NC Central was held to just 74 yards passing and 38 yards on the ground. After a performance like that it’s tough to know what offensive capabilities the Eagles might be able to use against WMU, but I do have one cause for concern: the Eagles QB can run. Senior Malcolm Bell ran for five rushing touchdowns last year and gathered 101 yards on the ground in a game last season against Florida A&M. Recent history has told us the Broncos don’t handle mobile QBs too well, so the defense will have to focus on containing Bell.
And the Eagles know how to win in general. The HBU has been co-champion of their conference for the past two years, going 8-3 last year and 7-5 in 2014. More impressively, these championships came in the first two years of head coach Jerry Mack’s tenure.
I’m expecting the Broncos to set the pace in the running game in the first drive. Jamauri Bogan had 101 yards and a TD against the Wildcats last weekend, a game in which the Broncos offensive line exceeded expectations. This coupled with the fact that the Eagles gave up 308 rushing yards in week one means we should see Western be able to dominate the running game again on Saturday.
I’d also like to point out that against Northwestern, the Broncos picked up a third and seven on a running the play. If that doesn’t enamor you to this team I don’t know what will. The Broncos were also four for four on fourth down conversions, so basically I’m in love.
Senior Corey Davis was held in relative check against Northwestern, gathering 70 yards on seven receptions (good for team bests on the day) and no TDs. Probably safe to say he scores at least one in this game. While Western will try to dominate on the ground, PJ will definitely keep the offense balanced.
I was reminded while writing this article that this weekend is the third anniversary of Western’s infamous loss to Nicholls State back in 2013. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on how far the WMU program has come since that depressing evening in September. How Coach Fleck has since been able to regain the confidence of Kalamazoo, recruiting the bejesus out of the MAC, and generally just injecting a little enthusiasm into mid-major college football. How we actually beat a ranked team last year (a division rival no less), and took home the school’s first bowl win.
Now is not the time for a let-down. This team won’t repeat the 2013 Nicholls State debacle. Now is the time to keep building.
Final score prediction: North Carolina Central 13, Western Michigan Broncos 45.