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Helmet Stickers Week Four: Out of conference play is (almost) over

NCAA Football: UNLV at Central Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Toledo was off this week, so no Rockets on this edition of Hustle Belt Helmet Stickers, but Western Michigan is a different story. Following a pretty convincing 49-31 victory over Georgia Southern, the Broncos have held up their end of the bargain as conference favorites thus far.

Ball State won a wild one on the road against the Owls of Florida Atlantic to improve to 3-1, and Buffalo (Buffalo!) removed itself from the ranks of the winless in beating previously undefeated Army. Oh, and Ohio beat Gardner-Webb at home, like they were supposed to.

Donald Trump is a major presidential candidate and Eastern Michigan is 3-1. I’m having a hard time deciding which one I expected least eight months ago. Good on Eastern overcoming four interceptions from Todd Porter to beat Wyoming, which I’m obligated to remind you beat NIU in week one.

The Bad

Central Michigan lost on Saturday, and you have no idea how good it feels to type that. Almost as good as it feels to type this next part: To Virginia. Yes, Virginia, there is a Central Michigan, and you beat it 49-35.

Akron put up a poor showing on defense against Appalachian State, and though they only lost by a touchdown, the rush defense must improve if they are to survive the MAC schedule. Miami put up a better-than-expected fight against Cincinnati, but, ultimately, they’re still 0-4.

The Ugly

Kent State played at Alabama. You can look up the score, it’s illegal for me to type it.

Northern Illinois lost to in-state rival Western Illinois, who, to their credit, is undefeated. But for a program like NIU, losing at home to an FCS foe is indefensible.

Last year’s MAC champs laid an egg once again. The Falcons have probably broken the record for most times giving up exactly 77 points in a single season. Impressive!

One Sticker

RB Ian Eriksen, EMU - 27 carries for 120 yards, TD vs Wyoming
DB Vince Calhoun, EMU - 8 tackles, INT vs Wyoming

QB Zach Terrell, WMU - 18/27 for 270 yards, 4TD vs Georgia Southern

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Northwestern Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A year removed from throwing three picks against the Eagles, Terrell responded in a big way in week four. While the Broncos’ first home game this season against FBS competition was far from a must-win, it was an important measuring stick for a team slated to win the MAC, and a measuring stick for the senior quarterback. With the running game in the state it is now, the Broncos won’t likely need 50 passes from Terrell ever again, but his consistency at low volumes is unrivaled.

WR Sebastian Smith, Ohio - 6 catches for 108 yards, 2TD vs Gardner-Webb
LB Sean Wiggins, Ball State - 13 tackles vs FAU

Two Stickers

DB Amari Coleman, CMU - 6 tackles, INT for TD

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

Returning an interception for a touchdown is always a treat, but especially when your team is working to erase a 28 point deficit. With just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Chips down 28-14, Coleman got an amazing jump on a Virginia bubble screen and took the ball to the house. CMU’s going to need this type of ball hawking to turn over Western Michigan next week, something no team has done so far.

WR Michael Henry, WMU - 8 catches for 125 yards, 2TD vs Georgia Southern
S Nate Holley, Kent State - 14 tackles, Sack vs Alabama
WR Corey Willis, CMU - 6 catches for 145 yards, 2TD vs Virginia
WR Jerome Lane, Akron - 9 catches for 134 yards, TD vs Appalachian State
S Zach Guiser, Akron - 15 tackles vs Appalachian State
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo - 16 tackles, sack vs Army

Three Stickers

DB/KR Darius Phillips, WMU - 3 KR for 130 yards, TD, 2 tackles, INT for a TD vs Georgia Southern

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was easily the best game of Phillips career. With the Eagles and Broncos trading punches on offense, Phillips took a kickoff back 100 yards to really tilt the game int he Broncos’ favor, and he seemed to put the game away early in the third quarter with a 70 yard pick six. These are the types of plays expected of the electric Phillips, and he could be a huge key to the Broncos quest to remain undefeated.

RB Jordan Huff, NIU - 9 rushes for 130 yards, TD vs Western Illilnois
K Adam Mitcheson, Buffalo - GW FG vs Army

What to Watch For in Week Five

It’s rivalry week, which means someone you never expected is going to play a huge role in a big game. I’d be on the lookout for someone on the Central Michigan defense. If the Chippewas are going to beat the Broncos, they’ll have to turn them over. WMU has not lost a turnover yet this season, and the first one could be a back breaker in a rivalry game on the road.

The Akron defense should have a huge day against Kent State’s offense, so look for some turnovers in that game as well. James Gardner could have a big week for Miami as he takes on an Ohio secondary that isn’t exactly allergic to big plays. Have an enjoyable rivalry week, everyone, and remember - Hustle Belt hates every team, but your team especially.