Western Michigan University
Location: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Series: IU leads 4-0
Coach: Bill Cubit (5th year, 29-20)
Before the 2008 season, IU had not lost to a MAC team since losing to Miami in 1977 and had won 19 consecutive games against the MAC. In 2008, IU lost at home to Ball State and Central Michigan. I'll have more on those games in the coming days, when I begin my review of the 2008 season, whether you like it or not. In any event, the Hoosiers get the chance to start a new MAC winning streak when they host the Western Michigan Broncos in week 2 of the season.
When WMU coach Bill Cubit arrived in Kalamazoo, he took over a program that had gone 1-10 the year before, its fourth consecutive losing season. In his four years at WMU, Cubit has led the Broncos to three winning seasons and two bowl games, including the Texas Bowl last season. WMU's only previous Division I-A bowl appearance was in the California Bowl in 1988.
IU and Western Michigan last played at Kalamazoo in 2007. IU, after leading 34-7, held on for a 37-27 win. Current WMU quarterback Tim Hiller threw for 343 yards against IU that day.
Here is the College Football News preview of WMU. Per CFN, the WMU defensive line is fairly depleted, with only one regular starter returning, senior Cody Cielenski. At linebacker, leading tackler Austin Pritchard and Mitch Zajac return, but the secondary is almost entirely depleted. WMU does pick up , a transfer from Miami (Fla.) at safety.
On offense, in addition to Hiller, WMU returns senior running back, who ran for 51 yards on 12 carries against IU in 2007. Most of Hiller's receiving corps is gone.
Last year, WMU had an excellent offense, but the defense held the team back from challenging for the MAC title. Hiller ranked 7th nationally with 36 touchdown passes to only 10 interceptions and ranked in the top 20 nationally with a completion percentage of nearly 65. WMU ranked #11 in pass defense and #28 (of 113 I-A teams) in total offense, but only #28 in total defense.
I'll have much more on this game as it approaches, of course, but IU's first I-A opponent of the season will present a significant challenge to IU's defense, which is by far the Hoosiers' most experienced unit.