In a wild weekend of MAC football, the Western Michigan Broncos looked like contenders in the West as they mostly dominated the Miami RedHawks at home 38-16. Do the Broncos have what it takes to win the West after Toledo lost, and does Miami still have a chance in the East with Ohio’s loss? Let’s find out.
LeVante Bellamy: Best RB in the MAC
Despite facing a defense that controlled Buffalo’s ground game (for the most part), Bellamy went off Saturday with 22 rushes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Bellamy has certainly looked like the best running back in the MAC as he leads the league with 764 rushing yards and ten scores. With the defenses left on WMU’s schedule, he has a chance to solidify himself as one of the best rushers in the history of the program.
The Defense Did Its Job
The defense for the Broncos potentially could have been in danger if Miami were able to consistently move the ball, but the defense made a lot of plays with three interceptions (including a pick-six for WMU’s first score) and six sacks. Additionally, Western held Miami to 3.1 yards per carry and a completion percentage under 60%. If WMU can sustain its level of play on the defensive side of the ball, it is as good as any team in the MAC.
Inexperience = Inefficiency
Miami looked like the more inexperienced football team with the amount of mistakes that were made, particularly on offense. The three interceptions led to ten points for the Broncos, five of the six sacks coming in the second half as the ‘Hawks were trying to rally, committed eight penalties for 83 yards, and went 4-18 on third downs and 0-2 on fourth downs. The RedHawks have to execute better across the board on offense if they want to salvage what is left of the season.
Some Miami Positives
Not everything was a complete loss for the ‘Hawks on Saturday as they were able to accomplish some things. Miami won the field position battle as only one WMU drive started outside of their own 30-yard line (excluding drives resulting from interceptions) while Miami had eight drives starting at their 30-yard line or better. The defense kept the passing game in check as it held Jon Wassink to under 140 passing yards while recording two sack and an interception. If Miami can find a way to improve its run defense, it’s still a dangerous team going forward.
The Broncos are tied with CMU for the second-best MAC West record at 2-1 while Ball State is unblemished in conference play. WMU has EMU on the road before hosting Bowling Green and Ball State, and will conclude the season on the road against Ohio and NIU. Western has a legitimate shot in the MAC West if it can sustain its play for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Miami is also in a three-way for second place in the MAC East as Kent State has yet to be beaten in league play. The ‘Hawks host NIU before taking on the Golden Flashes and the Bobcats on the road in a stretch that will likely define Miami’s season. They will finish the season by hosting BGSU and Akron before the Redbird Rivalry in Muncie. The MAC East is still winnable for Miami if it’s able to get better quarterback play and if it fixes the run defense.