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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: EMU 1-4, WMU 3-2. Away Record: EMU 0-5, WMU 1-5. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, WMU 0-0. Conference Record: EMU 0-6, WMU 2-5. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 29-15-2.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos attempt to go out on top as they host their Mid-American Conference and in-state rival Eastern Michigan Eagles for their 2012 at Waldo Stadium.
The Eagles will have one more game to play after this week, but there is no hope for a postseason appearance as they are 1-9 overall and 0-6 in league play. EMU lost its third game in a row its last time out as it was bested, 34-31, by Central Michigan at home. Coach Ron English and his team will try to win on the road after losing seven straight-away games dating back to last season.
Western Michigan had its season affected by the injury bug this season. The Broncos were without their star QB Alex Carder for six games. They went 2-4 during that span before he returned for last week's 29-24 loss to Buffalo in New York. Although the Broncos no longer have a chance of becoming bowl eligible, they can keep intact coach Bill Cubit's seven-season streak of five wins or more.
The series between these in-state rivals dates back to 1906. WMU holds a 29-16-2 edge in the series, but EMU managed to pull out a 14-10 win in last season's clash.
The Eagles had one of their best performances of the season last week as they picked up 414 yards of total offense, 294 of which came on the ground, in their loss to CMU. EMU still has the worst total offense (341.3) and second lowest scoring offense (22.0 ppg) in the conference.
Bronson Hill showed he is the best option on the offensive unit by producing a two-game outburst to spark the Eagles' attack earlier in the season. Hill had never rushed the ball more than four times in a game in his career before compiling 283 yards and four touchdowns on 28 rushes against Toledo. The sophomore has surpassed the century mark on the ground in three of his past five games and scored six total TDs during that span.
The quarterback position has not been very stable for the Eagles this season. Alex Gillett, who started the past three seasons, was benched early on in the season. Tyler Benz came in and showed promise before dropping into an ugly slump. Last week, both QBs saw action. Gillett went 7-of-17 for 77 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Benz went 7-of-9 for 43 yards with a one- to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Gillett really made a difference with his mobility, tallying a game-high 162 yards and two TDs on 14 attempts.
Garrett Hoskins is the primary weapon in EMU's passing attack. His season totals of 32 receptions and 486 yards are more than double the combined statistics of the team's second and third leading receivers.
The Eagles' defense has struggled all season long, surrendering 488.9 yards and 37.9 points per game. The biggest concern for coach English has to be the rush defense, which ranks last in the FBS, as opponents are averaging 284.2 yards on the ground against EMU this season.
Blake Poole is leading the program with 77 total stops. EMU needs its defenders to start making plays to improve its turnover margin, which is minus-0.6 per game.
Carder finally made his return last week. The senior quarterback completed 19- of-37 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. The rust from his six-week recovery period was apparent as he tossed four interceptions.
Freshman Jaime Wilson has been one of the MAC's busiest receivers this season with 60 catches. He is also among the conference leaders in yards (718) and touchdowns (six), despite struggling over the past few weeks and missing one due to a groin injury. He status for Saturday is questionable. Josh Schaffer (43 catches, 570 yards, three TDs), who is recovering with a toe injury, should be ready to play on this week. With Wilson and Schaffer limited, senior Eric Monette has stepped up to fill the void. Monette has recorded 23 receptions for 416 yards and five TDs in his past three games.
Dareyon Chance (166 carries, 878 yards, four TDs) has provided a 100-yard rushing performance on four separate occasions this season. 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 29 points and 453 yards of total offense by Buffalo last time out. The Broncos still have the fifth best total defense (398.4) in the MAC, and they should be fine in this one if they carry over the momentum that led to three sacks in last week's loss.
Johnnie Simon is the heart and soul of the defense with a team-high 98 tackles and one interception. Justin Currie and Desmond Bozeman are both vital role players with 90 tackles a piece. Freddie Bishop had a big-time performance last week with seven tackles, four TFLs, a sack, and a forced fumble. Terry Easmon added 2.5 tackles for loss and a single sack.
This will be the final appearance of Western Michigan this season. The Broncos will give a spirited effort to send their signal caller out the right way. Gillett came up just short of leading EMU to a win last week versus Central Michigan, he will need the help of Hill to get past the Broncos.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 42, Eastern Michigan 35
11/14 10:36:09 ET
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