Rivalry night in Kalamazoo tonight, as the Central Michigan Chippewas tangle with the Western Michigan Broncos. For Central and Western Michigan, this is their biggest game of the year. The Broncos had several big games last season, including a meeting with Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Head coach P.J. Fleck left for more money at the University of Minnesota, which they expected after the success they had in 2016. Western Michigan went 13-1, their only loss against Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Even though they lost, they gave the Badgers a run for their money in a 24-16 final. Western Michigan opened the year against a Power-5 opponent, the USC Trojans, and gave them a score for a minute. USC ultimately pulled away and won 49-31.
It was a nice effort for Western Michigan in the first-half. For a minute there, it looked like they were going to be close enough to have a chance at the upset. Following the USC contest, the Broncos had another tough opponent to deal with, the Michigan State Spartans. Another solid effort, but again, they came up short, 28-14. That’s a hard, physical couple of weeks for Western Michigan. Going back to last season, they’ve played Wisconsin, USC, and Michigan State. It won’t help in the win column, but those games build character for conference opponents in the MAC. While others are playing lighter competition, Western Michigan has played some top-tier schools.
The Broncos started the year at 0-2, and have since bounced back to compile a 5-3 record. Their other loss came vs Akron, 14-13, in a letdown spot after a wild 71-68 7-overtime contest against Buffalo. Western had to be just a bit worn down after playing in that marathon. They responded last week with a 20-17 win over Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan isn’t the same punching bag they used to be in the past and hung in there against Western. Conversely, Central had a tune-up game against the dreadful Ball State Cardinals. That is one awful team, and the Chippewas put it on display in a 56-9 win. Let’s get to our free Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan pick below.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Western Michigan Broncos Betting Odds:
Central Michigan +4(-110)
vs. Western Michigan -4(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan Pick:
Western Michigan lost some firepower on offense in the offseason. Gone is quarterback Zach Terrell and wide receiver Corey Davis. Those are two guys you cannot easily replace. Davis was a high draft pick of the Tennessee Titans, regarded as one of the most electrifying players in the draft. We haven’t been able to see him in the NFL yet, but he did amazing things at Western Michigan. If you recall, Antonio Brown went to Central Michigan. Could Davis be the Western Michigan answer for Brown? In any case, Davis isn’t at Western anymore, and the offense hasn’t been as potent.
The workhorse in the offense is Jarvion Franklin. Their running game is still intact, and it is a strong unit behind a good offensive line. Franklin has been heating up lately, to the tune of 137 rushing yards per game in their last three games. Franklin will undoubtedly get the brunt of the work on Wednesday night. Western Michigan are 21st in the country with an impressive 235.6 yards on the ground per game. In his first-year as the starter, quarterback Jon Wassink has passed for 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with a 64.2% completion percentage.
Wassink should only continue to get better with more experience, but he is going to be out the rest of the year with a broken collarbone. Wassink went down against EMU, and freshman Reece Goddard will get the start under center. Goddard came out of Missouri as a three-star recruit, the 32nd best prospect in the state. He passed for 24 touchdowns and ran for 781 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior year. Goddard is eventually supposed to be the starter at Western Michigan, but they weren’t hoping for such an early debut. Shane Morris, who Michigan fans will know, gets his first and only taste of this rivalry. Morris is throwing 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with a 56.7% completion percentage. He came into college as a highly coveted recruit, and now he’s going out with ugly numbers in the MAC.
Central Michigan are going to run into problems against the Broncos’ offensive line. The Chippewas are allowing 192.1 yards per game on the ground, 98th in the country. I can see Western pounding them and wearing them down as the game progresses. Goddard will do enough not to lose this game for the Broncos. Toledo gashed Central for 312 yards rushing. The Rockets are 23rd in the country rushing the football, so very comparable to Western Michigan. They’ve been outgained on the ground in every game except against abysmal Ball State. Western Michigan rocked Central by a score of 49-10 last year. It isn’t going to be that bad, but I can see something similar to the 2015 final score of 32-20.