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Western Michigan Broncos vs. Central Michigan Chippewas Preview and Prediction

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Get ready for some good old-fashioned MACtion this week when Central Michigan looks to gain an edge on in-state and division rival Western Michigan. The Broncos are rolling along and gaining confidence each week with a battle-tested and proven roster, but playing on the road against the Chippewas should be a solid challenge in conference play.

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Western Michigan at Central Michigan

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

Spread: Western Michigan -3.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Western Michigan will feed Jamauri Bogan
And why wouldn’t they? The sophomore running back has already rushed his way to 527 yards and five touchdowns, both easily placing him atop the MAC. Bogan’s 89 rushing attempts also lead the conference so far and he has rushed for at least 100 yards in all four of Western Michigan’s games. That includes a pair of road wins against Big Ten programs (103 yards against Northwestern and 189 yards against Illinois). Bogan also has scored on the ground in each game this season.

On the flip side, Bogan and the Broncos will face the MAC’s second-best running defense. Central Michigan is allowing 106 rushing yards per game, but the Chippewas have given up more than 320 yards in their last two games, against UNLV and Virginia, combined.

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2. Expect plenty of points on top of points!
This could be a classic MAC shootout between two teams that have been putting up plenty of points this season. Western Michigan leads the MAC with a scoring average of 43.8 points per game. That includes 70 points against an FCS opponent to pad the numbers a little, but the Broncos put 34 on Illinois on the road and are coming off of a 49-point showing against Georgia Southern.

Western Michigan has 23 touchdowns this season and Central Michigan is right behind with 22. That includes 30 points on the road against Oklahoma State and 35 points in a losing effort at Virginia last weekend.

Just for the record, for entertainment purposes only of course, the over/under on this one is 58.

3. CMU QB Cooper Rush racking up air mileage, but WMU’s is without an INT
Rush not only has one of the best names in the MAC, but also one of the best arms. Rush leads the MAC through four weeks with 1,359 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with an average of 339.8 passing yards per game.

WMU’s Zach Terrell may not have quite the same stats, but he has yet to throw an interception while tossing nine touchdowns and completing nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts.

Final Analysis

It feels odd to suggest this may be Western Michigan’s stiffest test yet considering the Broncos have played (and won) two games in Big Ten stadiums, but Central Michigan could very well be just that. The Chippewas may have gotten away with a win in Stillwater (so did WMU at Northwestern), but playing at home they look equipped to give Western Michigan a decent challenge in MAC play, and they could potentially ruin any plans of a dream undefeated season for P.J. Fleck’s program. But this Western Michigan team is on a mission and brings one of the best all-around rosters to Mount Pleasant this week. The Broncos should find a way to come out on top.

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Prediction: Western Michigan 53, Central Michigan 49

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook