Five keys to victory for the Broncos against Nicholls.
1. Run the ball – Between Brian Fields and Dareyon Chance the Broncos could only muster up 33 net yards from their tailbacks. Granted they were playing a superior Michigan State defense but still, that total is unacceptable. Fields and Chance should have a field-day against a Nicholls run defense that allowed 500 yards to the Oregon Ducks in their season opener. The Broncos won’t gain nearly that amount of yards on the ground, but 200 yards rushing is achievable and should be expected.
2. Protect TVT – Tyler VanTubbergen will start on Saturday night after leaving the MSU game early with concussion like symptoms. Until Thursday, TVT was listed all week as day-to-day until Coach Fleck announced that he would make the start. With two more Big Ten games on the schedule before the Broncos begin MAC play, it is essential for TVT to get some more live game action with the first team offense after leaving the MSU game midway through the second quarter. For the Broncos to have any success this year TVT must be on the field.
3. Don’t overlook your opponent – It’s easy to look at the name on the opponents jersey and assume that they will be a cake walk. Nicholls did just lose 66-3 to Oregon only a week ago. But with seven FCS (Division 1-AA) schools coming up victorious over FBS schools during the opening weekend of the college football season, anything could happen. The Broncos showed last week that they have plenty of holes and still need tons of work to become elite. Use this game to fix what went wrong offensively and defensively against MSU, but remember the Colonels are playing with nothing to lose. They are expected to lose, just how WMU was expected to lose against the Spartans but were still able to make a game of it. Don’t allow this to happen on Saturday night or WMU could become the next FBS School to falter to a FCS school.
4. Control Marcus Washington – The Colonels still don’t know who will be taking snaps for them after starting QB Beaux Hebert was knocked out of their game against Oregon. He was replaced by Kalen Henderson who was 21 of 40 for 214 yards. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Broncos will have to stop four-year starting RB Marcus Washington. Washington led the Colonels in yards last season with just under 600 net yards rushing. The Broncos allowed 181 yards to MSU on the ground and must limit how many they allow to Washington and Nicholls.
5. Make it a memorable night – Not only is it PJ Fleck’s first game at Waldo Stadium, the 22nd annual CommUniversityCity Game but it is also the kick-off to the 75th season at Waldo Stadium. Fans of the Broncos have been waiting nine plus months to see firsthand just what PJ Fleck is all about. It’s a new era in Kalamazoo and Saturday night is just the beginning of it. Get there early and stay there late because as Coach Fleck said, “The first home game will be nothing like anything you’ve been to before.”
Prediction: WMU 38 Nicholls 10
Important Info: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Nicholls Colonels.
Location: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
Official Kick-off Time: 7:06pm
Radio/TV: WZOX 96.5 FM/ESPN3
Series/Last Match-up: WMU leads 2-0; Sept. 10, 2011 WMU won 38-7