KENT STATE (4-4, 3-1 MAC) vs. WESTERN MICHIGAN (4-4, 3-2)
Saturday | 2 p.m.
Dix Stadium (25,000) | Kent, Ohio
Radio: WNIR/100.1 FM (Tom Linder, Rob Polinsky, Ty Linder)
Series: WMU leads 32-17-1. WMU has won the last 12 meetings and has averaged 52 points per game in the last six games. The losing streak for KSU is the longest current losing streak against any opponent and the lengthiest since KSU lost 14 in a row to BG from 1974-1987.
Last meeting: WMU 44, KSU 14 | October 29, 2005
Last meeting in Kent: WMU 42, KSU 0 | October 28, 2000
WMU History: The Broncos are 57-58 overall since 2000. They are 41-35 in the MAC during that same time. Under Bill Cubit, the Broncos are 33-24 overall and 23-12 in the MAC. WMU has won two MAC West Division Championships and has produced 10 undefeated home seasons. The program has made four bowl appearances in 1961, 1988, 2006 and 2008.
KENT STATE Quick Facts
- KSU is seeking to go to 4-1 in the MAC for just the seventh time in the last 50 years.
- Kent State's defense has not allowed an offensive touchdown in eight quarters, the longest such streak since 1982.
- KSU is seeking their first win over WMU since 1988.
- QB Spencer Keith has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 1, 165 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
- RB Jacquise Terry has rushed for 482 yards this season with a 5.1 average and three TDs.
- WR Tyshon Goode leads a revamped receiving group with 29 catches for 355 yards and three TDs.
- LB Cobrani Mixon leads the team with 79 tackles while Monte Simmons and Aaron Hull lead the team with 4.5 sacks each.
WESTERN MICHIGAN Quick Facts
- WMU has traded wins and losses in its last five games.
- The Broncos are 16th in the nation in passing offense (288 ypg). They are 36th in total offense (406 ypg).
- The defense is 106th in the country in total defense (419.6 ypg).
- QB Tim Hiller (Orrville), the 2004 Beacon Journal Player of the Year, has completed 209-335 attempts on the season for 2, 254 yards and 15 TDs, against seven interceptions. Hiller is second in conference history with 91 TDs.
- RB Brandon West is second in the MAC at 95 yards per game. He is second in the country in all-purpose yards at 204.4. He is closing in on NCAA Division I FBS records for career all-purpose yards, career kick return yards and career kick returns. West ranks second in each category.
- The Broncos are a banged up group. WR's Juan Nunez and Jordan White are not expected to play. Same with LB and leading tackler Austin Pritchard.
PRESSURE ON TIM HILLER
Kent State’s defense is going to have to get some pressure on Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller. Kent State’s defensive line especially, will need to continue to get pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback. ''Most of our sacks Saturday where not blitzes,'' Doug Martin said. ''They were just our guys playing hard and getting pressure with four. That is what we have to do in this game. We can't put our (defensive backs) on an island out there.'' Kent State’s defense has struggled a little bit this season against pass-happy quarterbacks and offenses when facing Zac Dysert and Miami and Tyler Sheehan and Bowling Green. ''If we can get pressure with four, it is going to make life a lot easier for us,'' Martin said. ''If we can't, then zone pressures are going to have to be a viable answer for us and the (pass) coverage has to be tighter.''
SUSTAINING OFFENSIVE DRIVES, BALL CONTROL
Kent State did a nice job last week extending drives, keeping the defense off the field and controlling the ball. Last week against Ohio, KSU was able to hold the ball for about 34 minutes. Against a potent offense like Western Michigan, sustaining some drives and keeping the ball away from them could be a key. In the two games against Miami and Bowling Green, they out possessed Kent State with the ball for 10 minutes and 15 minutes respectively. In my opinion, the Kent State defense was dead tired in the fourth quarter for being on the field that many plays. The Kent State offense can help by running the football effectively and converting some third downs.
GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START
As always, I think getting off to a good start will be a key. Getting off to a good start can help keep the confidence of the players high and keep the fans into the game. With a team like Western Michigan, they have the ability to come back probably a little better than a team like Kent State. Playing from behind in the game could be problematic for the Flashes.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
There is a reason why making a big play on special teams is a key to a win every week. In every Kent State game this season, they have made a big play on special teams. Last week, it was more about the consistent punting and punt coverage of the unit. Granted, they did give up a late touchdown punt return. But for the first 58 minutes, they were solid. Also, Leneric Muldrow had two big punt returns. I’m not sure Kent State has to make a big play, but if they are solid in all phases of the kicking game, they will give themselves a shot to go 4-1 in the MAC.
DEFENDING DIX STADIUM
Kent State needs to come home and establish a winning culture at Dix Stadium. Doug Martin is convinced that the fans will come out to see a consistent winner. I’m not sure they are going to be selling out these last two games at home, but establishing a winning feel at Dix Stadium is important. KSU is 12-17 at Dix Stadium under Doug Martin and 6-14 in the MAC. "Hopefully we keep winning and people keep coming,” Martin said. “But we need people in this community and this area to get invested in our football program. We understand that we have to win to make that happen, and hopefully we keep doing that. We certainly need everybody here we can get here."