[Sean King for Shaw Media]
With the MAC West already wrapped up when the Huskies took to the field Wednesday against Miami, the Huskie offense put forth a letdown performance.
The Huskies did pick up 212 yards rushing, but couldn't maintain enough consistency to rack up enough first downs with only 15 total.
Several drops, two turnovers and missed opportunities added to the struggles as quarterback Marcus Childers went 15 of 33 through the air, including 5 of 20 in the second half.
“It was a terribly disappointing performance by our offense against Miami," coach Rod Carey said. "Good enough defense to win and our kicking game didn’t help us in any way, shape or form.”
The Broncos will be playing with the added motivation of Senior Night and securing a definite bowl game appearance with a seventh victory.
The WMU defense will be in its first game since defensive coordinator Tim Daoust was fired after last week's 42-41 loss to Ball State that allowed NIU to clinch the division.
“It comes down to can you score? No one has really," WMU coach Tim Lester said about NIU's defense. "I thought Akron did a pretty good job. Ohio really didn't and Toledo really didn't. "That’s the challenge when you’re talking about the No. 1 defense in the league by far in my opinion. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
WMU's vaunted rushing attack will take center stage.
Bronco LeVante Bellamy is tops in the MAC with 1,120 rushing yards and averages 6.4 yards per carry. Jamauri Bogan has piled up 639 yards on the ground and a MAC-leading 13 rushing touchdowns.
“You’re going to have to gang-tackle him (Bellamy) as we call ‘pack tackle’ him," Carey said. "You see him repeatedly make the first guy miss and he has the ability to go the distance. They have three really good running backs and they’re all explosive.”
“Offensively I think we have to create explosive plays," Lester said. "You have to. It’s such a suffocating defense, you have to find some ways to get some chunk plays.”
NIU will likely be without tight end Corey Lersch and offensive guard Christopher Perez with both dealing with recurring ankle injuries.
“We have guys like Ryan Roberts that can come up and play and I think we’re getting Benn Olsen back from sickness," Shively said about the offensive line. "I think we’ll have some guys that are up and ready to play.”
Junior safety Trayshon Foster had a scope done on his knee and is being treated as day-to-day.
Sophomore running back Marcus Jones is expected to play after sustaining a thigh bruise that kept him out of action the rest of the Miami game after scoring the Huskies' lone touchdown on the first drive of the second half.
“We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football and we live by a next-man-up mentality," junior linebacker Lance Deveaux Jr. said. "Those guys have been getting a lot of reps in practice and have some reps in games in the past, so it should be nothing new to them.”
Series record: WMU leads 24-19
Fast fact: Ohio, Miami and Buffalo each have a chance to get to the MAC title game, where one of them will face NIU. The Bulls are in with a win. A Buffalo loss, Miami win and Ohio win would put Miami in the title game. An Ohio win, Buffalo loss and Miami loss would leave Ohio as the representative of the MAC East.
NIU's Max Scharping becomes the first Huskie since Jimmie Ward in 2014 to be selected to play in the Senior Bowl.
Prediction: NIU 24, WMU 14