Kent State (1-3) at Western Michigan (0-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: KSU 1-1, WMU 0-1. Away Record: KSU 0-2, WMU 0-3. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, WMU 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 0-1, WMU 0-0. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 33-19-1.
GAME NOTES: The winless Western Michigan Broncos will attempt to turn things around as they start their Mid-American Conference season on Saturday with the Kent State Golden Flashes paying a visit to Waldo Stadium.
Since their 17-10 win over FCS foe Liberty in the opener, the Golden Flashes have lost three in a row, including a 41-22 home setback to Bowling Green in their only MAC game to date. The Golden Flashes faced BCS conference opponents in back-to-back weeks with similar results. Kent State lost 45-13 at LSU in week three before it was shutout 34-0 by Penn State in non-conference play at Beaver Stadium in its last appearance. The program is in its first season under rookie head coach Paul Haynes, who will try to keep the team's four-game road winning streak in MAC games alive.
WMU's most recent loss was its most disheartening as it was dismantled in a 59-3 setback to Iowa at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes were the third Big Ten school to defeat the Broncos, joining Michigan State (26-13) and Northwestern (38-17). Coach P.J. Fleck is the youngest coach at the FBS level at the age of 32. He watched his squad suffer a 27-23 loss to FCS opponent Nicholls in his home debut.
WMU leads the all-time series with Kent State 33-19-1. The Broncos also lead the series in Kalamazoo 17-8-1, but the Flashes defeated WMU last season, 41-24, at Dix Stadium.
The Golden Flashes seem to have lost the spark that charged their run to the 2012 MAC Championship. They are ranked 11th out of 13 MAC teams in both scoring offense (13 ppg) and total offense (275.2 ypg) through four games. KSU has not been much better on the defensive side of the ball, surrendering an average of 458 yards of total offense and 32.5 points per game to its opposition. Last week, the Nittany Lions recorded 463 yards (287 rushing), while Kent State managed just 190 yards in the contest.
Haynes's offense is going to get better as redshirt freshman Colin Reardon develops under center. The rookie signal caller had a poor showing in his last outing against PSU, completing only 12-of-28 passes for 100 yards with an interception. Reardon also fumbled twice, although both were recovered by KSU. Reardon had not thrown an interception until the trip to Happy Valley and should have an easier time against the much weaker defenses he will face during conference play.
KSU's offense has not been the same without superstar Dri Archer, who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury. Archer and Trayion Durham shared the carries in 2012 to form an unstoppable tandem. The two combined s 3,487 combined rushing and receiving yards, which gave KSU the top returning running back duo in the FBS. However, Archer has only carried the ball three times and made one reception due to his injury. He is questionable for Saturday, but his return could help Durham, who is averaging only 3.1 yards per carry and 47.5 rushing yards per game. Junior wideout Chris Humphrey has been a bright spot with 233 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions.
Senior safety Luke Wollet is the most valuable player on the defensive side of the ball for the Golden Flashes. He has registered 35 total tackles. Senior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix is one of the top linemen in the MAC. He is second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (58.0), fifth in forced fumbles (10) and 14th in sacks (21.5).
The Broncos have been poor offensively as well, producing only 14 points and 310.8 yards of total offense per outing. They have been even worse defensively, allowing 37.5 points and 415.2 offensive yards per game. In its last outing, Iowa outgained WMU in total yardage, 446-209, and held a 12- minute advantage in time of possession. Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley returned two punts for touchdowns and B.J. Lowery also stood out against WMU with a pair of interception returns for scores.
Tyler Van Tubbergen struggled under center for WMU, going 14-of-32 for 114 yards with two interception. He had surpassed the 200-yard mark in two straight games prior, but leads the MAC in interceptions thrown with seven. Van Tubbergen's job may be even more difficult on Saturday with his leading receiver, Corey Davis, listed as questionable due to a concussion. Brian Fields had 20 touches for 115 total yards (58 rushing, 57 receiving) in the loss to Iowa.
Senior linebacker Kyle Lark leads the Broncos in total tackles (35) and tackles for loss (3.0). He also has one of the team's five fumble recoveries. Junior safety Justin Currie led all players with nine tackles last week at Iowa, including seven solo stops and one tackle for loss.
Both of these teams are in desperate need of a win at this early point in the season. Nix should be able to apply pressure on the turnover-prone Van Tubbergen, which could lead to a couple big plays for KSU. The Golden Flashes will get a huge boost if Archer is able to come back healthy.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 23, Western Michigan 17
09/25 10:31:58 ET