Western Michigan vs. Kent State Game Preview
When: Tuesday, Nov. 8 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Dix Stadium, Kent, Ohio.
TV Broadcast: ESPN2
The Western Michigan Broncos are coming off a 52-20 rout of Ball State, moving them to 9-0 on the season and continuing the inside track to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Kent State, which is coming off a thrilling 27-24 come-from-behind victory over Central Michigan on Oct. 29, are looking to shock the Broncos and continue to turn their season around.
Here are three things to watch for this game:
1. Who Bends First – WMU’s Offense or Kent State’s Defense
Western Michigan’s connection between quarterback Zach Terrell and receiver Corey Davis is among the best in the nation. Terrell has been incredibly efficient, completing 71.6 percent of his throws and tossing only one pick on 243 attempts. The senior has passed for 2,362 yards and 23 scores on 174 completions this year. Davis has been the recipient on 61 of Terrell’s completions, with the senior recording 1,011 yards (16.6 ypc) and 14 scores. In last week’s win over Ball State, Davis set a new MAC single-game record with 272 receiving yards. However, Kent State’s secondary ranks as the best in the MAC in pass efficiency defense, which is impressive considering that they have faced Penn State, Alabama and Central Michigan. Kent State’s defense is also solid against the run (3.9 ypc and 145.9 ypg), which could limit the running room for running backs, Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan. Western Michigan has a ton of firepower on offense. Will Kent State’s defense have any answers?
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2. All Eyes on Kent State QB Nate Holley
Holley was shifted from running back to quarterback after injuries to quarterbacks Mylik Mitchell and Justin Agner forced them both out for the 2016 season. The junior has recorded at least 246 total yards in four out of his five starts under center, including 402 against Akron and 313 against Buffalo. He is very limited as a passer but is a dangerous runner. Kent State has to shorten the game and keep Western Michigan’s offense on the sideline, and to have a shot at the upset, Holley – with an assist from running back Justin Rankin – needs to have another huge performance on the ground. Expect Western Michigan to counter with a loaded box to force Holley to take to the air.
3. Least Amount Of Turnovers Wins
Considering the advantage Western Michigan has in playmakers on offense, Kent State is going to need a couple of takeaways to close the gap. However, the Broncos have a tight grip on the ball, losing only three turnovers all season and boasting a plus-15 margin going into Tuesday night’s match-up. The Golden Flashes aren’t too far behind on the stat sheet, ranking No. 3 in the MAC with a plus-seven margin. If Kent State can force a few turnovers and keep Western Michigan’s offense on the sideline, then Haynes’ team will have an opportunity to keep this one close in the second half. However, if the Golden Flashes have a couple of giveaways and finish minus-two or minus-three in turnover margin, this one could get ugly in a hurry.
The match to New Years Day continues for the Western Michigan. They have too much firepower, and while Kent State will keep it close in the opening stages, I see the Broncos pulling away for victory number ten. Western Michigan 48, Kent State 20