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2018

Western Michigan

College Football

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Western Michigan took a fall as expected in Tim Lester’s first season, finishing 6-6 after going undefeated in the previous regular season. The Broncos are projected to make a bowl this year, but still have some work to do to make the MAC title game. They have the fourth-best odds to win the MAC at +700 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) with an over/under of 6.5 wins.

Western battled numerous injuries on both sides of the ball last year, including to quarterback Jon Wassink, who broke his collarbone in the eighth game. Wassink still managed a solid sophomore season with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions as the offense scored 33.9 points per game. Outside of left tackle, the entire line returns and it could once again be the best one in the conference. That should give Wassink room to operate, but also continue a solid rushing attack between Jamauri Bogan and LeVante Bellamy, both of whom dealt with injuries last season. As long as they can stay healthy, they should combine for close to 1,500 yards if not more after Jarvion Franklin ran for 1,228 yards and 11 TDs last year. Receiver is also set for Wassink with D’Wayne Eskridge (506 yards), Keishawn Watson and Anton Curtis all returning at wide out in addition to Michigan transfer Drake Harris. 

The main problem for WMU last year was on the defensive side as they gave up 35 points in three of the final four games, all losses. With only four returning starters, there could be similar issues this season, especially in the middle of the field where there’s inexperience at tackle and linebacker. Antonio Balabani (four sacks) could be a beast on the end, but linebacker has three new starters, one of them a sophomore. To help the front seven, the secondary should be stout with senior cornerback Sam Beal and safety Justin Tranquill returning from injury. 

The Broncos could steal one more non-conference win this year, but that means they have to take down Syracuse in the opener. They also get three of the best teams in the MAC at home and they may have to win a couple if they want a bowl game. Otherwise, WMU may be required to get road wins at teams like CMU and Miami. If Wassink picks up where he left last season with Tim Lester calling the plays, the offense could be good enough to lead the team to six wins at a minimum. Reaching the over will require the defense to improve and with little returning experience, that’s not an easy thing to bet on. At the least, expect Western to run over weaker teams on the schedule.

 

2018 Western Michigan Broncos Football Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse

Sept. 8 at Michigan

Sept. 15 vs. Delaware State

Sept. 22 at Georgia State

Sept. 29 at Miami (OH)

Oct. 6 vs. Eastern Michigan

Oct. 13 at Bowling Green

Oct. 20 at Central Michigan

Oct. 25 vs. Toledo

Nov. 1 vs. Ohio

Nov. 13 at Ball State

Nov. 20 vs. Northern Illinois

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