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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 5, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Glass Bowl (26,248) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: WMU 0-2, Toledo 1-0. Away Record: WMU 0-3, Toledo 1-3. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 0-1, Toledo 1-1. Series Record: Toledo leads, 39-28.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos continue to search for answers as they take on the Toledo Rockets in a Mid-American Conference tilt at the Glass Bowl.
P.J. Fleck's head coaching career is not off to an ideal start. The 32-year old joined the program after spending last season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receivers coach, making him the youngest head coach at the FBS level. His Broncos fell to 0-5 last week as they were defeated, 32-14, by Kent State at home. WMU went 0-3 against the Big Ten, falling to Michigan State (38-17, Northwestern (38-17) and Iowa (59-3). It also lost to FCS foe Nicholls, 27-23, at home.
The Rockets had a setback last week as they had a two-game winning streak snapped with a hard-fought, 31-24, loss to Ball State at Scheumann Stadium. The Rockets tied the score at 24 with a one-yard touchdown run by David Fluellen at the 6:20 mark of the fourth quarter. BSU answered three minutes later with a touchdown run of its own. Toledo was stopped just past midfield on fourth down on its final shot. The loss dropped Matt Campbell's team to 2-3 overall including a 1-1 standing in MAC play.
Toledo's 37-17 win over WMU in Kalamazoo last season marked its third consecutive win over the Broncos. The Rockets own a 39-28 all-time series lead.
The Broncos were dominated on the ground last week as they were limited to 151 yards rushing by Kent State, which tallied 276 rushing yards en route to the win. KSU amassed 452 yards of total offense and limited the Broncos to 310 total yards. WMU kept it relatively close as it went into the fourth quarter trailing by only eight points before being outscored 10-0. Tyler Van Tubbergen struggled with his accuracy, completing 11-of-23 attempts for 159 yards with only one touchdown and two interceptions. He has now been held under the 200- yard mark in two consecutive games.
Van Tubbergen was without his favorite target, Corey Davis, who was held out due to a concussion. Kendrick Roberts caught four balls for 73 yards while Josh Schaffer also made four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. Roberts and Schaffer could both be targeted early and often again this week with Davis listed as questionable. WMU has a talented tailback in Brian Fields, who gained 106 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against the Golden Flashes. Dareyon Chance, who racked up 947 yards on 176 totes in 2012, could also be a factor.
WMU has averaged only 14 points per game, giving it the 115th ranked scoring offense out of 123 FBS schools. The Broncos are not much better on the other side of the ball, ranking 106th in the nation in scoring defense at 36.4 ppg. Mike Jones paced the team against Kent State with 14 total stops. Kyle Lark is leading the team on the season with 48 tackles.
Terrance Owens was able to return from the left knee injury that forced him to leave the EWU game after just two pass attempts and completed 13-of-17 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan to help the Rockets claim their second consecutive win. The senior signal caller could not stay as highly efficient for last week's matchup versus the Cardinals, but had a decent showing with 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 34-of-46 efficiency. While the Rockets are netting only 24.8 ppg, they will only get better with Owens back healthy.
Ball State finally found a way to contain Bernard Reedy after the catch as he tallied only 37 yards on 13 receptions. The senior wideout has made a conference-best 39 receptions for 328 yards. While Reedy was frustrated by the Cardinals, Alonzo Russell tied his career-high with nine receptions for 147 yards, including a fourth quarter touchdown. The team received another strong performance from tailback David Fluellen, who motored his way to a season-high 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 27 rushes. The senior halfback has surpassed the century mark on the ground in four consecutive games and ranks third in the nation with 626 yards rushing.
Toledo's defense is ranked second in the MAC in total defense (401.8 ypg). It didn't perform up to its usual standard in Muncie, allowing BSU to amass 463 yards of total offense. Penalties ended up being the difference as Toledo was flagged 10 times for 97 yards. BSU was penalized just once for 10 yards. The Rockets were paced last week by their star linebacker, Junior Sylvestre, who registered 10 tackles and a fumble return for a touchdown in the loss. The junior linebacker is second in the MAC and tied for seventh in the nation with 53 tackles.
While the Rockets are below the .500 mark, all three of their losses came against quality opponents. WMU has some talented offensive weapons, but none will be able to carry the Broncos past Toledo on the road. WMU's defense may prevent Fleck from winning his first game for weeks to come.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 34, Western Michigan 21
10/02 10:34:02 ET
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