Opponent Recap: Western Michigan

Submitted by Heiko on December 7th, 2011 at 1:56 PM

ED-Seth: With the regular season over Heiko's opponent watch feature transitions to Opponent Recap, where he looks back over M's foes in detail so you can put the season into better perspective. Op met de show:

Western Michigan

Rainbows: Denard still makes them.

Kovacs for Heisman.


  • @ Michigan, 34-10 (L)
  • Nicholls State, 38-7 (W)
  • Central Michigan, 44-14 (W)
  • @ No. 24 Illinois, 23-20 (L)
  • @ Connecticut, 38-31 (W)
  • Bowling Green, 45-21 (W)
  • @ Northern Illinois, 51-22 (L)
  • @ Eastern Michigan, 14-10 (L)
  • Ball State, 45-35 (W)
  • @ Toledo, 66-63 (L)
  • @ Miami (OH), 24-21 (W)
  • Akron, 68-19 (W)

Overall: 7-5

Conference: 5-3

Rank/Standings: 3rd place MAC-West

  Offense Defense
Total 456.3 ypg, 22nd 434.1 ypg, 100th
Scoring 35.6 ppg, 18th 28.0 ppg, 72nd
Rush 127.4 ypg, 87th 215.9, 107th
Pass 328.8 ypg, 8th 218.2, 53rd

Season recap: Western Michigan finished their season third in the MAC-West division. Their 5-3 conference record was two wins behind that of division champs Northern Illinois and Toledo.

That’s not a bad mark considering that the Broncos were a one-dimensional team. Their one strength was a pass-happy offense featuring a fearsome duo in QB Alex Carder and WR Jordan White (who led the FBS in receiving yards with 137 ypg, btw) that could score on anyone, but their inability/unwillingness to run the ball and stop the run cost them several games. RB Tevin Drake did average 5.5 yards a carry, but he had just 505 yards on the season; their rush defense rank was in the triple digit club.

The Broncos lost Carder for the better part of the last two games due to a separated shoulder, but his replacement Tyler Van Tubbergen was a serviceable next-guy-in. Carder should return for the bowl game.

I wish I knew more about the MAC so I could talk about Western Michigan’s ups and downs throughout the course of the season. I don’t, so I won’t. That Eastern Michigan game, though … man. Who knew the Eagles had that in them.

Best Win: @ Connecticut, but maybe not so much now that the Big East has formally declared itself a joke.

Worst Loss: @ Northern Illinois, in which their defense stopped playing after the first quarter. If Western Michigan had any chance of competing for their division they needed to beat the Huskies, and they fell way short. Northern Illinois incidentally ended up winning the conference on a late field goal to #BeatOhio (not that Ohio).

When Michigan played them, we thought they were as frightening as: The original week one post got overwritten so I don’t remember, but I think I set their fear level at a 3 and compared them to the MAC version of Ben Chappell-era Indiana.

But now we know they are as frightening as: The MAC version of this year’s Northwestern. 3. Their offense gained legitimacy throughout the season, and Carder even showed off some dual-threat ability. Unfortunately, their defense went the other direction.

What this win meant for Michigan: Though Western Michigan wasn’t your typical MAC-cake this season, Michigan sure made them look the part thanks to a couple favorable bounces, Jordan Kovacs, and weather.

The Wolverines had enjoyed exceptional opening day mojo for the past two years, and this game wasn’t any different. By luck and by Mattison, the defense got into Carder’s head, and the Broncos played like crap after their first turnover. Michigan did whatever it wanted for the remainder of the game.

The remainder of the game came to an unsatisfactory end, however, due to the great Midwest Monsoon of 2011. Fans wanted to see the fourth quarter to gain more confidence in this mysterious product Brady Hoke and company had been working on, capitulated opponent or not. Instead, everyone was sent out of the stadium, invited back in, then sent home and told to wait for next week.

All gone.

There was also a window of confusion after the second weather delay during which everyone wondered whether a curtailed game could be recorded as a Wolverines victory, whether the game had to be rescheduled, or whether none of this happened at all and we would be told that we had just imagined it.

Finally a frazzled Dave Brandon informed the media that an agreement had been struck with the Western Michigan AD, once DB's pimp hand convinced her to be enough of a sportswoman to concede the Michigan win.

Hoke talked about how it was good to win a football game, Denard gave his teammate props for usurping his place as the team's top rusher, and Brandon Herron got his 15 minutes of fame.

Did you imagine your first game happening like this? "No I don't think so. It was kind of wild. Wet and wild."

"Hmm." "Mmhmm."

Get well soon.

And it totally felt as awesome as: Rediscovering sex after nine months of pregnancy, and hey, it’s still pretty good!

Bowl: Little Caesars Pizza Motor City Bowl vs. Purdue, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. EST



December 7th, 2011 at 3:37 PM ^

It seems I have misunderstood something about sex during pregnancy. (They don't teach us these things in medical school!) Let's call it a fairly traumatic pregnancy during which the fetus got transplanted from another womb during the second trimester or so because the obstetrician fired the original mother ...

Nevermind. This is all messed up. Let's just not read into this analogy so much.

Great, great.


December 7th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

I took an empty bread bag out of a trash can in one of the hall ways during the first evacuation. I had a week old iPhone 4 that I wrapped in the bag. The phone survived. What a day.

Dan Man

December 7th, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

Just an unsolicited opinion: this feature seems a little like wasted time, what with the mountain of analysis that Mgoreaders get before each game, then watching the game, and then the mountain of post game reactions/highlight videos.  I really like Heiko's writing; it'd be great for him to write about something that we've haven't already covered so much already.


December 7th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

I enjoyed the recap Heiko. It's cool to see what our opponents went through over the season since I don't really follow too many teams outside of the B1G especially. I also love the awesomeness (word? now it is) of your felt awesome like...


December 7th, 2011 at 9:33 PM ^

Came down from toronto for the game and had my passport in my pocket. Luckily(?) during the first soaking the wind was strong enough for the rain to be sideways so I was able to shuffle myself around to keep the passport pocket dry. Second time not so much...Drive back to the border had the passports being held over the air vents to dry off before being completely warped.

Fun time though minus the whole getting drenched twice and going from 100ish to below 70 in a matter of minutes.


December 8th, 2011 at 8:16 AM ^

i know we should root for the big 10 in bowl games but i can't help rooting for western, they have been to 4 bowl games in their history and have never won one.  5th times is a charm?


December 8th, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

given their current situation. (Also, that assumes you're willing to overlook Danny Hope's insistence on creating rivalries where they don't exist. Side note: wouldn't it have been better to choose a team that a) no one else likes anyway and b) he's 2-1* against?)

In the best of circumstances, the teams are roughly equal. At the risk of stealing some of Heiko's thunder, Purdue was pretty much a meh team this year: the usual strong presence on the defensive line (Kawann Short this year), the usual half-court-basketball-on-grass offense (run crossing patterns and hope defenders fall down), the usual games where they play to their opponent's level. Their résumé is only slightly better than Western's: uninspiring games against Middle Tennessee, Rice, and Indiana, mostly weak performances against better teams (a close loss to pre-scandal Penn State the best of the bunch). Their best win was HA HA OHIO, and even that was in overtime.

With Ralph Bolden out yet again with a knee injury (no, it's not endemic at Purdue, why do you ask?), there are fewer weapons for Gary Nord to misuse against the Broncos. Nord and Hope have had many of their decisions called into question this season; it seems likely that Western can pull out a win, if by no other means than simply keeping the game close. F/+ has Western higher than Purdue, and Purdue's biggest strength, special teams, is actually a Western strength as well, so if either team is hoping to keep it close, it would likely be the Boilers.

Still, Purdue is lucky: earlier ESPN projections had them going to the Cotton Bowl II, where they would have given up eleventy-billion points to Houston. Here, they have a chance to win, but I have much less confidence this time ... and last time, they needed a last-second field goal to win.