After an emotional win last week, Michigan hopes not to suffer a letdown against Western Michigan, which will once agin finish in the middle of the MAC. But barring a complete collapse, the heavily favored Wolverines should roll in this mismatch.
Michigan passing offense vs. Western Michigan passing defense: Quarterback John Navarre looked good in his first start of the season by passing for more than 250 yards and to multiple receivers. The trend should continue against the Broncos, but they have the size – with three cornerbacks at 6-foot-2 – to defend Tyrece Butler and Braylon Edwards, each of whom is 6-foot-3. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr indicated that freshman Jason Avant will likely see the field this Saturday as well.
Western Michigan safety and former walk-on Jason Feldpauch was named MAC defensive player of the week last week for his stellar play in the Broncos 48-17 victory over Indiana State. But Western Michigan will need more than a MAC player of the week to win this battle.
Michigan rushing offense vs. Western Michigan rushing defense: After a year break, Michigan established a solid running game last week with Chris Perry rushing for 120 yards and three touchdowns. He is running much harder than he ever did last season and still had gas in the tank in the third and fourth quarters.
Rushing defense is the weak link for the Broncos. Of the nearly 200 yards of offense gained by Indiana State, 150 came on the ground along with the Sycamores only offensive touchdown.
Needless to say, Michigan’s rushing front will be more imposing than that of Indiana State.
Western Michigan passing offense vs. Michigan passing defense: If there is an edge in this game for the Broncos, it might be passing offense. Western Michigan sports a spread offense that Michigan has had trouble with in the past, including last season against the Broncos.
But Michigan will be looking for a way to prove it can defend well against the pass and Western Michigan may be its first victim. Cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Markus Curry are too athletic for the Broncos. Above all, Western Michigan is just not as talented as Washington and won’t have the same success that the Huskies did.
Western Michigan rushing offense vs. Michigan rushing defense: Last week Western Michigan was subdued by Indiana State’s rush defense, rushing for just 73 yards on 30 attempts. It should have more trouble against a bigger, stronger and faster group of defensive line and linebackers. The Wolverines should succeed in making the Broncos one-dimensional, but luckily for them, rushing isn’t their bread and butter.
Special teams: Michigan will need a kicking game for the rest of the season, and this game could be one to work all of the kinks out.
Western Michigan has a solid kicker in Robert Menchinger, who knocked in two field goals last week.
On returns, Michigan has the advantage with Julius Curry and Jeremy LeSueur both showing a strength in kick and punt returns. Last week, the Broncos allowed a 95-yard kick return to Indiana State. Michigan will also try to establish pressure on the punter.
Intangibles: The game is in the Big House and Western Michigan is in the MAC. Its coach is telling the media Michigan has no weaknesses. There is just too much intimidation for the Broncos to go up against.
Western Michigan 24