Western Michigan vs Central Michigan Odds, Picks & Predictions: Can Broncos Cover? (Wednesday, November 16)
Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Western Michigan’s Damari Roberson (4) and Keni-H Lovely.
Western Michigan vs Central Michigan Odds
|Western Michigan Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Central Michigan Odds|
-110o / -110u
It's been a long season for the Western Michigan Broncos.
Last week's 24-21 loss to Northern Illinois dropped them to 3-7, confirmed they won't be playing in a bowl with two weeks left in the season and clinched the first losing season for the Broncos in nine years.
However, they still have plenty to play for, including a chance to ruin arch-rival Central Michigan's season.
The Chippewas began the year 2-6 but has won their last two games, including a 31-27 victory over Buffalo last week. They're now 4-6 and two wins away from bowl eligibility.
This week, the focus will be on securing the Victory Cannon.
Western Michigan and Central Michigan have been playing for the Victory Cannon since 2008, and CMU won the first three matchups. Since then, WMU has won six of the last eight meetings and holds a 51-39-2 all-time series lead.
However, Central Michigan won last season, 42-30, and enters this matchup as double-digit favorites. Can the Chippewas cover at home?
In the 2020 pandemic season, Western Michigan averaged 41.7 points per game and then put up 32.5 per game last season.
This year, WMU's scoring output has dropped to 19.6 points per game. That mark is good for 117th in the FBS. It's WMU's lowest scoring average since 2013 when it finished 1-11 on the year.
Inexperience and ineffectiveness at the quarterback position have hindered Western Michigan's offensive production. Redshirt freshman Jack Salopek began the year as the starter, but he completed just 50.8% of his passes and ranks 122nd in QBR.
He threw five interceptions in the second half against Ohio and was replaced by true freshman Treyson Bourguet, who has started the last three games.
Bourguet has a slightly higher completion percentage (52.2%) and three total touchdowns, but most importantly, he's protected the ball better with just one interception. This would mark his fourth game, and the team may be interested in retaining his redshirt. However, as of writing, indications are he'll start.
Running back Sean Tyler leads the team with 719 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. His backfield mate, La'Darius Jefferson, is suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
That's not great for a Broncos rushing attack that ranks 119th in Rushing Success Rate. Offensive line play has not been great, as the team ranks 115th in both Line Yards and Havoc Allowed and 106th in pass-blocking grade.
However, the Broncos shine in the trenches on the other side of the ball. Western Michigan ranks 16th in pass-rush grade and 21st in Havoc.
It's also tied for 39th nationally in sacks. Outside linebacker Corvin Moment leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and 25 sacks.
The Broncos sit 111th in Rushing Success Rate. You would think WMU wouldn't get hurt in that area against Central Michigan. However, that may not be the case after last week.
Central Michigan has started quarterback Daniel Richardson for the majority of the season. His completion percentage has dropped four points (56.3%) and he's averaging two yards less per attempt, but he does have 15 touchdown passes against just five interceptions.
However, the Chippewas needed a spark last week. Head coach Jim McElwain turned to redshirt freshman Bert Emanuel Jr. with his team trailing, 24-7, to Buffalo at half last week.
The new quarterback delivered one of the most electrifying MACtion performances this season, rushing for 293 yards and three touchdowns. Now, he has to follow that up against a solid Broncos pass defense.
Emanuel threw just three passes and has some room to grow as a passer. I would still expect to see Richardson in passing situations, but Emanuel figures to get plenty of snaps against a porous Western Michigan run defense.
He will be needed to boost a CMU offense that ranks 92nd in Rushing Success Rate. Running back Lew Nichols III leads the team with 561 yards and six touchdowns on 3.5 yards per carry. It's hard to believe those numbers after he ran for over 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
However, Central Michigan ranks 117th in Line Yards, 115th in pass-blocking grade and 96th in Havoc.
Maryland transfer Carlos Carriere leads the team with 509 yards and two touchdowns on 44 receptions. Tight end Joel Wilson also has 44 catches for 445 yards and a team-leading six scores.
Like Western Michigan, Central Michigan also has an imposing pass rush. The Chippewas rank 27th in pass-rush grade and are tied for 24th in sacks. Five Chips have at least two sacks, led by defensive lineman Thomas Incoom. The senior has racked up 9.5 sacks, tied for third nationally.
Central Michigan is allowing 3.5 yards per carry and ranks fourth in Line Yards, 14th in Havoc and 32nd in Rushing Success Rate.
Western Michigan vs Central Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Western Michigan and Central Michigan match up statistically:
Western Michigan Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Central Michigan Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||76||107|
|Seconds per Play||27.1 (87)||24.2 (25)|
|Rush Rate||55.7% (56)||50.8% (82)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Western Michigan vs Central Michigan Betting Pick
The favorite has covered each of the last six meetings in this series, but I'm going against the grain here.
Each of Western Michigan's last three games and four of its last five conference games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Meanwhile, three of Central Michigan's six conference games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
With that in mind, a double-digit spread in a rivalry game certainly catches my attention. That's even more true considering Western Michigan has won each of the last five meetings in Mount Pleasant.
Additionally, the Chippewas have been held under 20 points in two of their last three home games. Points could be at a premium with both teams ranking 113th or worse in Finishing Drives.
If Western Michigan can limit Central Michigan to field goals, that will help keep the game close.
Finally, the road team has covered nine of the last 10 meetings. This is another trend that favors the Broncos, I'll take the points in what should be a low-scoring defensive battle.
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