Western Michigan visits Central Michigan in a key matchup as MAC West teams take the stage Wednesday. Both programs are 2-0, so it's a critical contest in the shortened 2020 season.
Toledo, meanwhile, will try to bounce back from a tough loss when it visits winless -- but dangerous -- Eastern Michigan.
Northern Illinois is also looking for its first win and has another tough challenge awaiting in a Ball State team that ranks second (MAC) in rushing and fourth in passing.
Here’s more on the matchups . . .
Western Michigan (2-0) at Central Michigan (2-0)
Wednesday, Nov. 18 -- 7 p.m.
>> The match up will pit the MAC’s best offense against the conference’s best defense. WMU leads the conference in scoring offense at 49.5 points per game through two games this season. The Chippewas have held opponents to just 18.5 points per game.
>> Wednesday’s game is the 91st in the series between rivals Western Michigan and Central Michigan. • The Broncos hold the all-time lead at 50- 38-2 and have currently won two straight. The Victory Cannon Trophy was first introduced to the rivalry in 2008, named for the cannons that each team shoot off at home games. After CMU claimed the trophy the first three years, the Broncos have secured it the last seven of nine.
Western Michigan Broncos
>> Down by 10 with 2:54 remaining, the Broncos pulled out all the stops to post a critical 41-38 win over Toledo last week. Keleb Eleby scored on a one-yard run with just 45 ticks, but the PAT kick failed. Down by four, the Broncos recovered an onside kick and frantically drove forward. Eleby’s 18-yard completion to D’Wayne Eskridge took WMU to the Toledo nine. Rushing up to the line, Eleby took the snap, faked a clock-killing spike, and lofted a game-winning TD pass to wide-open Jaylen Hall on the left side.
>> Eleby sits near or at the top of every quarterback stat in the MAC. Through two games he is 32-for-45 passing for 546 yards and six touchdowns. Eleby leads in the MAC in completion percentage at 71.1, leads the conference in efficiency at 217.0 and is tied for the lead in touchdown passes with six. He is second in the MAC in passing yards with 546 and is the lone quarterback in the conference to attempt at least 40 passes without throwing an interception.
>> Eskridge went over 100 yards receiving for the second time this season after posting 131 against the Rockets. He now has five career games of at least 100 yards receiving under Lester, the most of any other Bronco
>> Five of Western Michigan’s six scoring drives in the win over Toledo were under 3:00, including two of 30 seconds or less. The quick scoring resulted in a program low time of possession of 21:28 under head coach Tim Lester. Nine of WMU’s 14 scoring drives this season have been under 3:00.
>> Sophomore running back Sean Tyler became the fifth Bronco to rush for 100 yards in a game under head coach Tim Lester. Tyler reached 100 yards exactly on 12 carries in the win over Toledo for his first collegiate 100-yard game. Tyler has some work to do in his career to catch up to LeVante Bellamy, who had 14 career games with at least 100-yards rushing under Lester.
>> Four different Broncos reached double digit tackles in WMU’s win over Toledo. • Redshirt senior transfer Bricen Garner led the team with a career-high 14. The strong safety now has 20 total tackles on the season, tying him for fifth in the MAC. Garner was joined by linebacker Treshaun Hayward (13), defensive end Marshawn Kneeland (12) and linebacker Corvin Moment (12). Kneeland’s 13 were also a career high.
Central Michigan Chippewas
>> CMU looks to go 3-0 to begin a season for the first time since 2016. The Chippewas began that year with wins over Presbyterian (49-3), at Oklahoma State (30-27) and against UNLV (44-21). The Maroon and Gold are 2-0 in conference action for the first time since 2009. CMU went 8-0 in MAC action that year. The Chippewas defeated Ohio, 30-27, to open the season in Kelly/Shorts Stadium and won at NIU last week, 40-10.
>> The Chippewas committed three turnovers and totaled 95 yards in penalties while falling to WMU 31-15 last year. The Broncos were up 24-0 after three quarters.
>> Central owned a comfortable 33-0 lead early in the fourth quarter last week. Northern Illinois scored its only touchdown of the night with 11 seconds left.
>> Lew Nichols III and Kobe Lewis combined for 28 carries, 150 yards and two TDs ad Central Michigan amassed 237 yards rushing against NIU.
>> Freshman Daniel Richardson completed 13-of-19 passes for 196 yards with two TDs and one interception last week.
>> Central Michigan has allowed a league low four touchdowns and 294.5 ypg.
Toledo (1-1) at Eastern Michigan (0-2)
Wednesday, Nov. 18 -- 7 p.m. ET
Rynearson Stadium -- Ypsilanti,MI
>> A preseason favorite in the MAC West, the Rockets can ill-afford another setback after last week’s loss at Western Michigan.
>> UT is second among MAC teams in total offense (512 ypg). The Rockets are also secondin passing (276.5 ypg) and third in rushing (236.0 ypg).
>> The Rockets are fourth in total defense 352.0 ypg and scoring defense (22.0 ypg)
>> Senior quarterback Eli Peters has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 553 yards and five TDs. His only interception this season was a Hail Mary toss at the end of the WMU game. He ranks first in the MAC with 553 passing yards.
>> Ten Different Rockets caught at least one pass last week.
>> Bryant Koback’s 24 carries for 78 yards and two scores led UT’s ground game, which produced 162 yards and four TDs against Western Michigan. Koback also had a team-high seven receptions.
>> The Eagles have twice come up just short this year. After an opening week 27-23 loss at Kent State, EMU was edged 38-31 in the final minute last week at Ball State. This is EMU’s first home game.
>> Eastern was up 24-13 in the third quarter, before Ball State ran off 17 straight points. The two teams traded touchdowns in the final minutes. BSU punched in a one-yard TD with six ticks left.
>> The Eagles are seventh (MAC) in both scoring 27.0 ppg and scoring defense 32.5 ppg.
>> Junior QB Preston Hutchinson completed 75.4 percent of his passes in limited action last year but is currently at 59.4 percent this season. He has provided 491 yards and three touchdowns through the air and owns two interceptions.
>> EMU quarterbacks typically shine in the run game, as well. Hutchinson fits that mold and rushed for 104 yards with three TDs against Ball State. The Eagles had 227 yards rushing overall.
>> Tanner Knue grabbed eight passes for 121 yards to lead EMU receivers last week.
>> Senior linebacker Terry Myrick leads the Eagle defense with 20 tackles.
>> Place kicker Chad Ryland has a long of 52 yards.
Northern Illinois (0-2) at Ball State (1-1)
Wednesday, Nov. 18 -- 7 p.m. ET
Scheumann Stadium -- Muncie, IN
Northern Illinois Huskies
>> NIU allowed 49 points in its 2020 opener against Buffalo and followed that by surrendering 40 points last week.
>> The Huskies are averaging 20 ppg. Only Bowling Green (13.5 ppg) and Akron (11.5 ppg) average fewer points per outing.
>> Northern Illinois is last among MAC teams in rushing yardage, averaging 115.0 ypg. The Huskies are eighth in passing offense with 205.5 ppg.
>> The Huskies started six freshmen - including five true freshmen - on defense last week and 18 true freshmen have seen action for NIU so far this season. There are 17 true freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen on the Huskies’ two-deep versus Ball State.
>> Quarterback Ross Bowers completed 16-of-32 for 139 yards against NIU. Tyrice Richie caught seven balls for 70 yards.
>> In just one game, freshman kickoff receiver Trayvon Rudolph surpassed the total kickoff return yards compiled by the Huskie TEAM in 12 games in 2019. Rudolph totaled 151 yards on five returns; NIU earned 141 yards on 12 returns last season.
>> NIU will look to reclaim the Bronze Stalk Trophy, which was created as a tribute to the rural areas surrounding both schools’ hometowns in 2008. After falling in the initial Trophy game, NIU won the next 10 games in the series before Ball State broke the Huskies’ winning streak with a seven-point win in DeKalb a year ago.
Ball State Cardinals
>> Ball State has been on opposite ends of 38-31 outcomes in the first two weeks with both games decided in the closing moments. Miami scored with 10 seconds left to defeat BSU in the opening week, and the Cardinals scored with 6 seconds left on a Caleb Huntley touchdown run to beat Eastern Michigan in week two..
>> Seven of Ball State’s past 10 games -- all MAC games -- have been decided by a touchdown or less (BSU is 3-4 in those games). Last year’s BSU-NIU game, a 27-20 win for the Cardinals, was one of those single-score contests.
>> Senior RB Caleb Huntley, coming off a career-best 204-yard performance against Eastern Michigan, has topped 100 yards rushing in six straight games and nine of his past 10 overall. If he reaches the century mark Wednesday, he would become the first BSU back with seven straight 100-yard games. MiQuale Lewis (2008) and David Blake (1974) also compiled streaks of six games.
>> Senior WR Justin Hall leads all FBS players in all-purpose yards per game this season (243.5). Hall had 246 in the opener at Miami and 241 against Eastern Michigan. He has 179 receiving yards, 87 rushing yards and 221 return yards through two games. Hall has scored a touchdown both rushing and receiving this season (both against Miami).
>> Freshmen Jack Knight and Jacob Lewis made a combined 3-of-3 field goals versus EMU (34, 44 and 51 yards).
>> Antwan Davis (13), Yo’Heinz Tyler (12) and Justin Hall (11) have combined for 36 of BSU’s 41 receptions.