Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
2007 Record (MAC): 5-7 (3-4; Tied for third in MAC West)
Coach: Bill Cubit (20-16 in 3 years at Western Michigan)
All-Time Series vs. Nebraska: First Ever Meeting
1-3 All-Time against Big 12 teams, the only win coming in 1994 against Iowa State.
- Points/Game: 26.9 (65th)
- Total Offense: 398.0 (57th)
- Rush Yards/Game: 130.4 (86th)
- Pass Efficiency: 130.9 (46th)
- Points Allowed/Game: 28.9 (73rd)
- Total Defense: 399.3 (68th)
- Rush Yds. Allowed/Game: 179.1 (83rd)
- Pass Efficiency Defense: 120.9 (46th)
Players to Watch:
- Junior Quarterback Tim Hiller, 3,021 yards last season with 20 TD's and 15 interceptions. Last year became the only sophomore in Western Michigan history to throw for over 3,000 yards. Started all 12 games last season.
- Junior Running Back Brandon West is the top returning rusher with 848 yards, 4 TD's. Finished second in receptions with 45 for 365. Also had 35 kick returns for 906 yards, a 25.9 average, including a 98 yarder for a TD against Finished 2007 with 2,119 all-purpose yards for a 176.6/game average. Named 2nd team All-Mac in 2007.
- Senior Wide Receive Jamarko Simmons was an All-MAC selection last year, finishing the season with 980 yards and 6 TD's.
- Senior tight end Branden Ledbetter, named third team All-MAC in 2007. Finished 2007 with 38 receptions and 550 yards, 6 TD's.
- Senior defensive end Zach Davidson, tied for sack lead with 6.5. Named second-team All-MAC in 2007.
- Senior defensive end Greg Marshall, tied for sack lead with 6.5. Started all 12 games in 2007.
- Senior linebacker Boston McCornell, lead the team in tackles with 99 in 2007. Named second-team All-MAC last season. Started all 12 games last season.
- Senior cornerback Londen Fryar, named first-team All-MAC in 2007 for second straight season. Lead team with 16 pass break-ups.
- Senior free safety Louis Delmas, named second-team All-MAC in 2007 despite missing games due to injury. Potential NFL draft choice, second leading kick returner behind Brandon West.
Western Michigan has a gob of players returning (all 11 on defense) from a team that ended their 2007 season with the same record as Nebraska. Three of the Broncos losses came in horrifying fashion - giving up a kick return for touchdown after intentionally taking a safety with 15 seconds left against Akron, giving up a one yard TD with 1:07 left against Ball State, and giving up a TD to rival Central Michigan with :12 left.
The entire two deep returns on the Bronco defensive line, with a combined 108 starts between them, so the Husker offensive line will get an immediate test as to whether or not they can establish a running game against an experienced team. This will be the key to the game - can a talented and deep Nebraska line punish a talented and deep defensive line of Western Michigan, wearing them down by the end of the game and then pummeling them into submission?
Quarterback Hiller isn't particularly mobile and the Broncos lost four of their top offensive lineman from last season. Simmons is 6'2", 234 lbs, while tight end Ledbetter is 6'5", 230 lbs, so both make nice big targets for Hiller. Plenty of experience among this group will be a challenge to the Husker defense.
Husker fans keep talking about the Virginia Tech and Missouri games, but overlooking Western Michigan would be dangerous and could be disastrous. A loss to the Broncos would send the fan base reeling and would be a nasty start to the Bo Pelini era. Western Michigan is a decent opening opponent, one of the better we've seen in a few years.
Western Michigan's game plan will be straightforward. If Western Michigan can score early, possibly either on a kick return or turnover, the Broncos will try to stymy the Husker offense as much as possible in an effort to keep the game close going into the fourth quarter and see what happens.
We'll have more predictions coming later in the week.