Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
(ASN and ESPN3)
With Central Michigan’s win over defending MAC West champ Northern Illinois last week, this Saturday’s “Battle for the Cannon” with Western Michigan promises to be a particularly hard fought and spirited contest.
If anything, CMU’s victory added fuel to the fire of every would-be contender in the West. Both the Chippewas and Broncos are certainly on that list of contenders. While CMU is fresh off a big win, Western Michigan is fresh. It had a bye last week after falling to No. 1 Ohio State, 38-12 back on Sept. 26.
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The Broncos entered 2015 one vote behind Toledo in the preseason media poll. Although they posted just one victory in four non-conference game, the Broncos are anxious to take the next step after last year’s 6-2 MAC record.
After on overtime loss to start the 2014 MAC slate, Western ran off six straight victories. The last was at Central Michigan, where WMU pulled out a 32-20 win. After falling behind 14-0, the Broncos pulled out front with a 22-3 second quarter advantage and held off Central thanks to a flurry of second half turnovers.
Quarterback Zach Terrell tossed three TD passes that day – two of them to Cory Davis -- and has been productive again this season. Terrell, a junior, is fourth among MAC QBs in passing yards per game (279.0) and also fourth in pass efficiency. Davis is tied for fifth.
Junior receiver Daniel Braverman leads the nation with 12.5 receptions (130.2 ypg. 8th nationally) per game. Davis is tied for fifth among MAC receivers with 6.0 catches (87.8 ypg) per contest.
Last year’s MAC Freshman AND Offensive Player of the year, Jarvion Franklin, was injured in the Bronco’s opener against Michigan State. He has gone over 100 yards just once through four games, picking up 161 yards on 27 carries against Murray State. He did average 5.7 yards against Ohio State, carrying 12 times for 68 yards. After 24 TDs in 2014, he has just one so far this year.
Western Michigan has dropped to 12th among MAC teams in rushing with 112.2 ypg. The Broncos are fourth in passing offense (288.0 ypg).
To date, WMU is scoring at a 26.2 ppg. rate and yielding 34.9 ppg
Kicker Andrew Halderman has hit 10 of 12 extra points and three of six field goals, with a ;long of 34.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 2-3, 1-0 MAC)
Turnover were costly in the Chippewas last meeting with Western, but the turnovers were a major plus for CMU last week against Northern Illinois. CMU forced three fumbles and one interception – all in the second half – and the Chippewas turned those miscues into three touchdowns.
Central has six turnovers for the season, and four of them came against NIU.The Chippewas have also lost six turnover, so they are breaking even in that department (9th MAC).
Central is tied for sixth (MAC) in scoring (22.0 ppg), while it is fifth in scoring defense (22.6 ppg),
Defense has been a significant crontributor as CMU ranks third in total defense (312.0) second in pass defense (17.8) and sixth in rushing defense (155.4). Defensive back Kavon Frazier’s 9.6 tackles per game in sixth (MAC)
Offensively, the Chippewas aren’t getting much out of the ground game. Their 80 ypg is last among all MAC teams, and they lost running back Devon Spalding on the first carry against Northern Illinois last week. He’s expected to be out for quite a while with a clavicle injury. CMU does, however, rank third in pass offense (298.0 ypg).
Rush is third is passing and sixth in pass efficiency. Jessie Kroll (26 catches, 314 yards, 2 TDs) and Anthony Rice (22 catches, 233 yards, 1 TD) lead the team in receptions. Ben McCord owns 18 catches for 332 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Kicker Brian Eavey has converted 9 of 13 field goals, with a long of 44 yards.