Yes, the NIU football team became bowl-eligible already with last week's victory over CMU, but that's not enough for Huskie fans. We are looking for a conference championship and nothing less. The next two games will decide the fate of the Huskies as they take on the Broncos this week and the Rockets next week. They are the cream of the crop in the MAC West and just one loss will send the Huskies tumbling down the ranks in terms of their chances in making the MAC Championship.
K-Zoo has been a house of horrors for the Huskies, most memorable was when they completely de-railed both hope of winning the conference and Garrett Wolfe's heisman campaign back in 2006. But our offense has a ridiculous amount of offensive weapons this year in comparison to when it was just #1 running the show.
Western is 2-1 in the MAC with wins over the hapless Ball State and Akron. This really doesn't tell us anything about the Broncos at all. Their one loss was against Toledo at home where the Broncos outgained the Rockets 416-268 yds, but turned the ball over 6 TIMES, which included 4 Alex Carder interceptions.
They also got destroyed by both Michigan State and Notre Dame, so their most comparable opponent to NIU would have to be Idaho. The 4-3 Vandals torched the Broncos 33-13 with 380 of their 477 yds through the air. That game was in Kalamazoo and would have even been more of a blowout if they didn't force 4 turnovers of their own.
When Ball State is your biggest win, you don't have much of a resume.
The Bronco Offense
WMU has one of the most prolific passing games in the nation. New starter Alex Carder is filling in nicely for Tim Hiller and leads the MAC in passing yardage passing for 1,939 on the season. His completion % is 61.8 and he is the 2nd most efficient QB in the league right behind Chandler Harnish. He has the same problems as our two previous opponents with a TD to INT ratio of just 15-9.
WRs Juan "The Mexican Assassin" Nunes (6'1" 181) and Jordan White (6'0" 211) are #10 and #11 in receptions per game throughout the country. White is their big play threat, averaging over 108 ypg good for 6th in the nation.
The Broncos are going to fling it around all over the place and the key to this game will be coverage in the secondary. This will be a huge test, considering we haven't faced an offense with these types of capabilities since the season opener against Iowa State.
As good as the Broncos are through the air (15th), they don't have much of a running game at all (106th). They also have really big issues protecting the quarterback (110th in sacks given up).
The Bronco Defense
If this becomes a shootout, I'm not worried about the Huskie offense moving the ball against the Broncos. They have the #8 total D and #9 rushing D in the MAC. We've faced a lot more tougher opponents in these departments and had success.
WMU has an aggressive defense that's similar to Buffalo, but they run a standard 4-3. They rank 2nd best in sacks and 4th in tackles for loss in the MAC.
Due to how efficient WMU has been on offense, this might turn quickly into an offensive shootout. The Huskies have to have success early getting into the endzone to stay in this game. They can't get too far behind early. This will be a big test for the defense who has been performing well lately. Getting pressure on Carder and forcing turnovers will be key.