Western Michigan (7-3) at Central Michigan (7-4) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (45,000) — Mount Pleasant,
Michigan. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Western Michigan 3-1, Central
Michigan 3-2. Away Record: Western Michigan 4-2, Central Michigan 4-2. Neutral
Record: Western Michigan 0-0, Central Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Western
Michigan 5-1, Central Michigan 5-2. Series Record: Western Michigan leads,

GAME NOTES: Having won five consecutive games, the Western Michigan Broncos
will seek to move up the Mid-American Conference standings when they take on
the Central Michigan Chippewas in a conference clash at Kelly-Shorts Stadium.

Western Michigan, at 7-3 overall this season and with a 5-1 record in the MAC,
has bowl eligibility already in its grasp. The Broncos will be gunning for the
top spot in the MAC West Division with two more games on the team’s slate. The
Broncos dismantled Eastern Michigan, 51-7, last weekend.

Central Michigan sits a half-game behind Western Michigan, Toledo and Northern
Illinois in the contentious MAC West Division at 5-2. So with two games
remaining, the Chippewas need every win they can get. They are on a three-game
win streak and are coming off a 34-27 win over Miami-Ohio.

The all-time series between these two intrastate rivals runs very deep. The
Broncos have a 45-38-2 edge in the series, which dates all the way to 1905.
The two sides met last season, which saw Central Michigan come away
victorious, 27-22.

Western Michigan absolutely blasted Eastern Michigan in the Broncos’ last
outing, thanks to the efforts of quarterback Zach Terrell. The sophomore
signal caller threw for 357 yards and four touchdowns, and now has passed for
2,668 yards and 1`9 touchdowns this season. His 69.7 completion percentage
ranks fifth among quarterbacks in the FBS.

Terrell’s top two wideouts have separated themselves from the rest of the
Western Michigan pack. Daniel Braverman has caught 69 passes this season for
707 yards and six touchdowns (including two last weekend), while Corey Davis,
whose brother Titus plays on Central Michigan, has hauled in a team-best 1,069
yards with nine receiving scores.

Then there’s true freshman running back Jarvion Franklin. Quite possibly the
frontrunner for the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award, Franklin has
carried the ball 247 times for 1,356 yards (sixth in the FBS) and 22
touchdowns (second in the FBS). He’s the main reason his Broncos average 36.2
ppg and 461.1 offensive ypg.

Defensively, the Broncos have been stellar as of late, allowing a combined 38
points to opponents in the team’s last three games. Opponents are scoring a
mere 23.5 ppg against WMU this season, and can only gain 379.1 offensive ypg.
The team also has limited challengers to just over 27 minutes of possession
time on average in 10 games.

Grant DePalma has been a monster this season, leading the team in tackles with
86 to go along with eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He’ll be busy this
weekend going against a very well-rounded CMU offensive attack. Donald
Celsicar and Ronald Zamort will be in charge of matching against star wideouts
Titus Davis and Jesse Kroll.

Central Michigan got running back Thomas Rawls back for the game last weekend
against Miami-Ohio, but the star rusher only carried the ball a total of three
times in the team’s win. It was the hot-handed Devon Spalding who saw the
majority of work, gaining 147 yards and scoring two touchdowns. In eight
games, Rawls leads the team with 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns, but Spalding
(356 yards, 4 TD) and Saylor Lavallii (290 yards, 4 TD) have come on strong to
fill in for Rawls when he’s been out.

Quarterback Cooper Rush has improved mightily since last season, after
throwing for 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions a year ago. Now the signal
caller has 18 touchdown passes against nine interceptions heading into his
biggest and final game of the season. Rush is at the center of an offense
averaging 25.6 ppg and 386.4 offensive ypg.

Davis (755 yards, 9 receiving TD) has really padded his cause for a run to the
NFL. He and Kroll (454 yards, 4 TD) are a dynamic duo on the outside as
weapons for Rush. The Chippewas are already bowl eligible, but they still have
hope for a MAC title game run.

CMU went two straight weeks allowing 14 points and seven points, respectively,
before Miami’s hot offense posted 27 points against the Chippewas. Central
Michigan’s defense is holding opponents to 22.4 ppg and a mere 328.4 offensive
ypg – both bests in the conference this season.

Watch for linebacker Justin Cherocci to key in on Franklin this weekend.
Cherocci leads the Chippewas with 101 tackles this season, adding six tackles
for loss and three sacks to his resume. Lineman Joe Ostman has notched 10
tackles for loss, so his presence in the backfield against Terrell and
Franklin will be much needed. Brandon Greer and Tony Annese are going to be
big factors in defending the WMU passing game.

This contest has the makings to not only live up to its in-state rivalry, but
as one of the better MAC matchups all season long. Both teams are fighting for
their survival moving toward the conference title game, and a CMU homefield
advantage cannot be understated. But Western Michigan is just firing on too
many cylinders offensively and defensively, and Franklin will bounce back from
a very sub-par week and a minor injury to run wild.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 40, Central Michigan 35