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Western Michigan didn't do anything wrong last year, they just had a difficult schedule that held them down to an 8-5 record. They lost a tiebreaker in the MAC West as four other teams had the same 6-2 conference record. But still, the Broncos challenged teams like Michigan State and Ohio State in non-conference play and beat Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl, so there wasn't much to complain about for the team. Now in his fourth year as head coach, PJ Fleck is looking for more and that means a MAC title.
That title is only made possible by the return of quarterback Zach Terrell, a three-year starter. He had a great 2015 en route to 29 TDs and 9 INTs, completing 67% of his passes leading the offense to 36 points per game. Outside of one major WR loss to the NFL, the options around Terrell are stacked. Corey Davis returns as the top receiver (90 receptions, 1,436 yards, 12 TDs) and expects to better 2015's numbers., although, someone will have to step up opposite of him. The one-two duo at running back of Jamauri Bogan (1,051 yards, 16 TDs) and Jarvion Franklin (735 yards, 5 TDs) is unbeaten by most teams in the country. Franklin's 2014 season of 1,500-plus yards and 24 TDs can't be forgotten either.
To help, Western's offensive line is full of depth and has three returning starters. With the offense not expected to take a step back, the Broncos should at least compete in every conference game this year, if not more.
It'll be up to the defense to hold down the better teams. They gave up 41 points to Bowling Green in last year's home loss. The defense wasn't terrible, but it wasn't overly good, allowing 28.3 points per game. They don't return a ton of starters, but Fleck likes what he has on the defensive side, with a lot of guys having starting experience.
The standouts include safety Asantay Brown and cornerback Darius Phillips. They are two of the best in the conference. At linebacker, Robert Spillane moves to the middle and runs the unit. Western has a couple fresh faces in the other secondary spots, but every other position is mostly experienced with Keion Adams and David Curle seniors on the line.
The Broncos have a real shot at reaching double-digit wins this year and that starts with an easier schedule. MSU and OSU are replaced by Northwestern and Illinois on the schedule with Georgia Southern coming to Kalamazoo this year. Their road slate in conference play is extremely favorable with Central being the toughest test. Outside of that, the Broncos don't play Bowling Green and host Northern Illinois.
Western Michigan is favored to win the MAC this year with the help of a returning stud at quarterback. Their over/under at 5Dimes was sitting at 9.5 in early July with the under at -195. Nine wins will be attainable in regular season play and if they can reach the MAC title game and a bowl game, that's two more chances to reach 10 wins.
2016 Western Michigan Broncos Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Northwestern
Sept. 10 vs. NC Central
Sept. 17 at Illinois
Sept. 24 vs. Georgia Southern
Oct. 1 at Central Michigan
Oct. 8 vs. Northern Illinois
Oct. 15 at Akron
Oct. 22 vs. Eastern Michigan
Nov. 1 at Ball State
Nov. 8 at Kent State
Nov. 19 vs. Buffalo
Nov. 25 vs. Toledo
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