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September 28, 2013

Staff Predictions: Kent State

Western Michigan finally opens the Mid-American Conference season tonight, as the Broncos face Kent State at 7:00pm at Waldo Stadium. This is a crucial game for WMU, who remains winless after their non-conference slate.

David James: The more I look into this matchup, the more I like it for Kent State. Neither team has been particularly impressive in the early going, but it just strikes me that if Dri Archer plays, the Flashes likely have the best player (Archer and Roosevelt Nix) on the field on each side of the ball. It could be argued that with Luke Wollett and Trayion Durham, they would have the four best players, particularly if Donald Celiscar and Corey Davis can't go for the Broncos.

I'd be a lot more confident in this pick if I knew the statuses of those two injured WMU players. For now I'm hedging my bets and expecting only one to play if any, given head coach P.J. Fleck's less than optimistic outlook on the pair on Tuesday.

There won't be a ton of offensive fireworks on display Saturday night. With big Durham leading the way in the Golden Flashes' running game, they might just be a bit better suited to win a slugfest than the Broncos are as currently constructed.

Kent State 20, Western Michigan 16

D.J. Duckett: Though Kent State hasn't been as impressive to me as last season, the same can definitely be said for the Broncos. Coming into this season, this is one of the games that I circled and thought that WMU would have to win this game in order to have a successful season… and it still is. Western Michigan is on the verge of going 0-5 and opening up a tough MAC schedule with a loss. That kind of start is something that most teams do not come back from, which is why this week scares me so much.

Kent State will return its star in Dri Archer to the lineup, making WMU's job that much harder. Though the Bronco defense has shown fairly well this season, Archer may be the best athlete they will have seen this season, outside of Kain Colter. On the offensive side of the ball, I see some real problems coming for the offensive line. Roosevlet Nix is an outstanding all around D-lineman and I think he will wreak havoc all day in the WMU backfield.

Ultimately, I think P.J. Fleck may have some tricks up his sleeve. I hope that he has been saving his bread and butter plays for conference games, but who knows if that will be enough at the point.

Kent State 27, WMU 17

Brian Persky: After inconsistent performances in their first four games, the Broncos will look to put everything behind them and concentrate on beginning conference play on Saturday against the Golden Flashes of Kent State in their MAC home opener. Surprising to some, WMU comes in as three-point favorites.

If you would have asked me earlier in the year whether or not Western Michigan was going to win this game, I would've said yes without too much hesitation. However, after a disappointing 0-4 start and the offense struggling to find any kind of rhythm, I'm not as confident. Throw in recent injuries to Corey Davis and Donald Celiscar, and Dri Archer's return, and it's definitely going to take an "elite" effort on Saturday in Waldo Stadium to even stay competitive.

The Broncos have what it takes to beat Kent State, but can they is the real question mark heading in. It's going to take a strong effort by the offensive line, especially against one of the conference's strongest defensive lines. It seems like a cliche, but this game will be won in the trenches on both sides. With Toledo coming up next on the schedule, it could be a couple more weeks until P.J. Fleck and this Western Michigan squad see their first victory. I can't confidently predict a win until I see this offense become more of a threat and show more explosiveness.

Kent State 31, WMU 20

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