WKU vs. Western Michigan: SERVPRO First Responder fearless prediction and game preview.
WKU vs. Western Michigan: SERVPRO First Responder Broadcast
WKU (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
– At least they’re going to play it this year. It might not be as good a matchup as Boise State vs. Boston College was last year, but the game was called because of bad weather and wasn’t made up – or moved to a certain indoor stadium in the greater Dallas area.
This started out as the TicketCity Bowl, turned into the Heart of Dallas, and we have yet to actually have a SERVPRO First Responder Bowl. One cancellation, six ugly blowouts, and two close games – this bowl is way overdue for a little luck and a great game.
– Western Michigan is way overdue for a little luck and a great game. This is the program’s tenth bowl appearance since the 1961 Aviation Bowl against New Mexico, and it has only won one of them – the 2015 Bahamas Bowl over Middle Tennessee.
After getting roasted by BYU in last year’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – giving up a 19-of-19 passing day to Cougar QB Zach Wilson – a win would make the season, and would be a huge deal for the school.
– After an ugly 3-9 season, a bowl win would be a massive thing for WKU, too. Head coach Tyson Helton has done a wonderful job in his first season, and the turnaround could be complete with a ninth victor and the program’s fourth bowl win in the last five tries.
3-2 all-time in bowls since moving up to the FBS level, a win would set the tone for what should be a big 2020 – at least in theory. This is going to be a preseason Conference USA favorite, and a win would get the hype going for Helton as well s the Hilltoppers.
CFN Podcast: SERVPRO First Responder Bowl discussion, picks
Why WKU Will Win
– The WKU lines are terrific. There isn’t a whole lot happening with the running game in the slowish, deliberate style, and the passing attack isn’t high-octane, but the Hilltoppers are terrific at keeping good pass rushing teams out of the backfield. The pass protection is great, and everyone gets plenty of time to work. Stop the strong WMU pass rush, and the good defense can be eaten up a bit.
– Good luck getting the running game going against the WKU defensive front. The two Power Five schools on the schedule – Louisville and Arkansas – were able to run for over 200 yards, but no one else was able to hit the mark.
Western Michigan can throw, but it’s at its best when the ground game is rolling with three games with more than 380 rushing yards. The rushing attack averages 5.4 yards per carry with 35 touchdowns, but Arkansas and Florida Atlantic were the only two teams to run for multiple scores on the defensive front led by …
– DeAngelo Malone might not be Chase Young, but he came up with as many tackles for loss (21) and cranked up 11.5 sacks to go along with 90 tackles. The 6-4, 230-pound all-around player is always around the ball wreaking havoc, and he’s not alone. WMU has a good O line that’s strong against good pass rushing teams, but … look out.
Why Western Michigan Will Win
– Yeah, the WKU run defense is terrific and has the scheme and talent to hold up, but this WMU running game is a killer. It barreled for two touchdowns or more in nine of the last ten games with seven in the blowout win over Georgia State and 11 over a two-game span against Bowling Green and Ball State. When the offensive line gets into a lather, WMU can pound away on just about anyone short of Michigan State – the one FBS team that shut things down.
– Western Michigan has a defense, too. WKU’s offense is okay, but it doesn’t come up with a whole lot on the ground, and it doesn’t bomb away with a passing game that’s okay at times, but nothing special. If WMU gets up early, WKU is in big, big trouble against a defense can bring things to a dead stop, especially against the run.
Until the total gag against Northern Illinois – a punchless team that pulled off a win in the regular season finale that kept WMU out of the MAC Championship – it took 475 yards or more to beat the Broncos. They were 7-0 when allowing fewer yards before the NIU game, and 0-4 when allowing that many or more.
WKU averages 380 yards per game.
– Considering how mediocre the WKU offense is, it needs easy points and a whole lot of breaks. Those almost certainly aren’t going to come from takeaways. The Hilltopper D has only come up with 14 turnovers on the year, and the Western Michigan offense doesn’t give up mistakes, finishing the regular season +7 in the nation in turnover margin. WKU is -5 on the season, going 5-0 games when it doesn’t lose the mistake battle and 2-5 when it does.