Peden Stadium, Athens, OH
ESPN3/American Sports Network
Overview: The contest will provide a test for each team as Western Michigan brings the MAC’s fourth-ranked offense to face an Ohio team that is second in scoring defense. It is also a cross-divisional matchup. While it is early in terms of conference play, MAC West teams have had the upper hand in games against East teams. Both teams are coming off wins against conference rivals, albeit WMU was challenged by a dangerous Central Michigan squad while Ohio dominated struggling Miami.
Western Michigan has won four of the last five meetings with Ohio, including the last two. WMU doubled up the Bobcats, 42-21, last year in Kalamazoo.
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The Zach Terrell to Daniel Braverman pass combination was clicking again last week, and WMU needed it. The Chippewas had scored 17-unanswered points to climb with two at 34-32 with 11:09 to play. Braverman took the next play from scrimmage– a pass from Terrell – to the house for a 64-yard score. It was one of three TDs for Braveman and one of four TD tosses for his quarterback.
Central answered with a four-play scoring drive, but WMU drained the remaining time with a 15-play drive that reached the Chippewas one-yard line. Western Michigan leads the MAC in time of possession (32:50).
> Terrell ranks fourth (MAC) is passing yards (275.6), and is third in passing efficiency – one spot ahead of Ohio’s Darius Vick and two places above CMU’s Cooper Rush.
> Braverman ranks second in the nation on yards per reception (11.2) and is sixth nationally in yards per game (131.6).
> Braverman and WR Corey Davis are tied for second nationally in combined receptions. Their 87 catches equals Bowling Green’s Roger Lewis/Lonnie Moore combo.
> Cornerback Darius Phillips picked up MAC West Division Special Teams Player of the Week honors after returning two kickoffs for a combined 101 yards against CMU. He tops the MAC and is 13th nationally with a 30.4 average on returns. Phillips is also acquitting himself well as a DB after switching over from offense this year. He has three interceptions on the year – two against Ohio State.
> Sophomore Jarvion Franklin registered 127 yards rushing last week. It was his second 100-plus game of the year and third straight in which he averaged at least 5.7 ypc. However, after scoring 24 TDs last season, he has two so far in 2015.
> Place kicker Alex Haldeman is 5 of 9 on field goal tries in 2015, with a long of 34. Punter J. Schroeder is 10th in punting (39.9 ypp).
OHIO BOBCATS (5-1, 2-0)
The Bobcats nearly pitched a shutout against Miami and held its without a TD for the second week in a row in Saturday’s 34-3 demolishing of Miami. Ohio also came up with four Miami turnovers, strengthening the Bobcats’ No. 1 position in turnovers (plus-9, 1.50 tpg). Western Michigan is way down the list at No. 10 (minus-four).
> The ‘Cats are 11th in kickoff return coverage, allowing an average of 38.4 ypr. This could be an area of emphasis in preparation, given WMU’s success in returns thus far. On the other hand, OU is sixth nationally in punt return defense.
> Quarterback Darius Vick was 21 of 33 for 242 yards and one TD against Miami. The senior has completed 90 of 134 (67.2%) for 1,164 yards with eight TDs and 11 interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times.
> Senior Daz’mond Patterson and sophomore A.J. Ouelette have combined fo 119 attempts, 550 yards and seven touchdowns.
> Ohio is ninth in rush offense (150.5 ypg) averages 4.0 ypc>
> The ‘Cats rank seventh in passing offense (230.5 ypg) and are third in pass efficiency. They trail only Bowling Green and Western Michigan in the latter.
> Junior Sebastian Smith leads OU receivers with 26 rceptions for 347 yards. He had a big week against Miami, catching nine balls for 91 yards and one of his four TDs on the campaign.
> Linebacker Quentin Poling leads Ohio defenders with 40 tackles, followed by junior Blair Brown (38).
> Ohio held Miami to 1 of 10 on third down conversions. It also held MU to 87 yards rushing, with a significant chunk of that coming in the second half.
> Josiah Yazdani kicked a career-long 50-yard field goal last week.