This weekend Western squares off with a Michigan State team still trying to claw its way back to winning. Western was beaten in Kent State in a must win game. MSU was beaten in Minnesota in a tough loss. Both teams need to win out to have a bowl game locked. This game was supposed to be played in Ford Field (like the game last year where WMU was victorious over Illinois) but was switched to East Lansing last summer.
Western has beaten two Big Ten teams trying to get to a bowl the last two years. Iowa (in Iowa, always a tough place to play) and Illinois at Ford Field. They are having an up and down season, playing a lot of close games and missing out on a win in Indiana. They are getting healthier and late season non conference games are always a good way to re-focus.
MSU has come off two very tough losses but come back home in a game they should win. They are playing better than their record indicates. They seem to have figure out (somewhat) their offensive identity and QB situation.
How WMU can win: Get ahead early, and make this a shootout. Your defense has not played well all year, but your offense is good enough to score a ton of points on the questionable MSU secondary. The Broncos will have to avoid penalties and turnovers, as MSU will make you pay more than Buffalo or Indiana. Running the ball shouldn't be too effective with LBs Eric Gordon and Greg Jones their to stop you. You'll have to make big plays and make MSU settle for field goals. The weather should be nice and won't be a factor.
How WMU can lose: Play sloppy, get behind early and have Tim Hiller throw 45+ times. Their has to be balance but obviously passing is more important. Having the young wideouts WMU does, MSU could take advantage of that. You'll have to protect Hiller from pressure since he isn't very mobile. The defense could get torched by Cousins or put in bad situations from Nichol.
How MSU can win: Pound the ball all day with your talented freshman RB Baker and Caper. Have Cousins make big plays in the passing attack and bring out some trick plays to confuse the young Bronco defense. You have the best special teams in the Big Ten, so use them. Play solid bend but don't break defense and force Hiller to beat you. Win a game your supposed to.
How MSU can lose: Play sloppy, put in Nichol at wrong times and try to pass your way to a win. If your defense is getting torched, move out of the base 4-3. Not bringing pressure to an immobile QB is ridiculous. Just play solid.
Verdict: I want to pick WMU, as history is on their side in playing Big Ten teams in November in the Cubit era. The Broncos have beaten a big name program almost every year Cubit has been coach. Both teams have a lot to play for in so far disappointing seasons. I think MSU gets the best of their MAC opponent. I may have picked the Broncos if it was at Ford Field or MSU was rolling along and looking past this game.
Final: MSU 37 WMU 21