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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (35,127) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: WMU 3-2, CMU 2-2. Away Record: WMU 0-4, CMU 1-4. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 1-4, CMU 1-3. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 44-37-2.
GAME NOTES: Two teams desperate for a win will square off when the Western Michigan Broncos visit Kelly/Shorts Stadium to duel with their instate and Mid-American Conference rival Central Michigan Chippewas.
The Broncos could not keep up with Jordan Lynch and the Huskies as they were defeated 48-34 by Northern Illinois last week. It was the third setback in a row for WMU, which now must win out to become bowl eligible. The program came into the season with high expectations after a 7-6 campaign which ended with a five-point loss to Purdue in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Bill Cubit has finished with five wins or more in each of his previous seven years as the team's head coach.
Central Michigan ended a four-game losing streak by completing a 35-14 rout of Akron at home last week. The victory made the Chippewas 3-5 with four winnable games left on their schedule. Coach Dan Enos is in his third season with the program after submitting 3-9 finishes in each of his first two years. All five of the Chippewas losses this season have come at the hands of opponents that currently have winning records (Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Navy, Ball State).
This will be the 84th meeting in history between these rivals. The Broncos hold a 44-37-2 edge in the all-time series after their 44-14 victory in Kalamazoo last season. CMU had won five consecutive meetings prior to 2011.
Although it has been streaky, the WMU offense has been effective overall this season, scoring 29.2 ppg on 437.7 ypg. Despite losing by 14 points, the Broncos managed to rack up 489 yards of total offense against NIU their last time out.
Tyler Van Tubbergen has been sporadic as the team's quarterback since taking over the job for the injured Alex Carder earlier in the season. Van Tubbergen tied his career-high with 333 yards on 32-of-51 passing his last time out. He also produced three TDs and threw a single interception. Van Tubbergen has thrown at least one scoring pass and interception in every game he has started to arrive at totals of 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season.
Carder is steadily progressing towards a return. The senior was considered one of the best passers in the league coming into the season. He is questionable for Saturday. Freshman Jaime Wilson has been one of the MAC's busiest receivers this season with 59 catches. He is also among the conference leaders in yards (706) and touchdowns (six), despite missing last week with a groin injury. He and Josh Schaffer (41 catches, 553 yards, three TDs), who is recovering with a toe injury, are both questionable to play on Saturday. With Wilson out and Schaffer limited, senior Eric Monette filled the void by making eight catches for career-highs of 142 yards and two TDs.
Dareyon Chance (134 carries, 719 yards, three TDs) has provided a 100-yard rushing performance in three different games this season and just missed his fourth last week (97 yards, 23 carries). Brian Fields offers a change of pace in the backfield and has amassed 359 rushing yards and two scores on 69 attempts.
The WMU defense was torched for 48 points and 453 yards of total offense by NIU its last time out. The Broncos still have the second best total defense (380.3) in the MAC, but they need to apply more pressure on opposing QBs after failing to record a sack in two straight games.
Johnnie Simon is the heart and soul of the defense with a team-high 82 tackles and one interception. Justin Currie, Terry Easmon, and Desmond Bozeman are all vital role players and each have 59 tackles or more. Although not lately, the unit has shown the ability to pressure opposing passers, with Bozeman (four sacks), Deauntay Legrier (3.5 sacks) and Paul Hazel (four sacks) all charging off the line. Lewis Toler is a playmaker in the secondary with three interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.
CMU's offense has averages of 386.3 yards and 26.8 points per contest through its first eight games. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff is the team's field general. Although he has not attempted as many passes as when he was a junior, Radcliff clearly worked on his accuracy during the offseason and improved his completion rate by 2.5 percent. He has amassed 1,954 yards and 15 touchdowns on 154-of-261 passing. Radcliff showed maturity last week by taking what Akron's defense gave him and going 15-of-25 for 180 yards and two TDs with no picks.
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton is the main threat in the Chippewas' offensive attack. He was unstoppable last week, compiling 243 yards and scoring on two of his 37 rushing attempts. Tipton is averaging 8.3 points per game, which is the eighth best rate in the MAC.
Titus Davis and Cody Wilson are both consistent threats in the passing attack. Wilson has tallied a team-high of 48 receptions for 563 yards. Davis comes in with 623 yards, seven catches for scores, and 30 receptions. Wilson has made a catch in 37 consecutive games, which is the third longest active streak in the nation.
CMU is one of the weakest defensive squads in the FBS with allowed averages of 452 yards and 36.3 points per game. Despite holding the Zips to just 14 points, the Chippewas allowed Akron to pick up 492 yards of total offense in last week's win. The team has no real threatening pass rushers and has a total of seven sacks with Jahleel Addae's 1.5 serving as a team-high by default.
Sophomore LB Justin Cherocci leads the team with 84 total tackles after registering 15 versus Akron. Junior LB Shamari Benton is close behind with 75 stops.
The Broncos have lost their last two games by double-digit margins, but they faced two of their three remaining conference rivals without a MAC loss. The Chippewas played well against Akron, but they will need to sustain their high offensive production level against an adequate opponent this week to take one stride closer to a postseason birth.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 31, Central Michigan 27
10/31 10:46:30 ET