Western Michigan 38 … at Connecticut 31

Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Western Michigan at Connecticut

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - WMU at UConn

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Oct. 1 Western Michigan 38 … at Connecticut 31
CFN Analysis: Alex Carder is special. He showed glimpses of greatness throughout last year, and he was good to start the season, but he hadn't done anything like this. He lit up a BCS conference team for 479 yards and bombed away for five scores with Jordan White continuing to dominate with 12 catches for 173 yards and two scores. The secondary was too porous against a bad passing team and the pass protection was mediocre, but this was the type of win that makes a statement as the MAC season kicks in. The rushing attack is non-existent but when Carder is this hot, it doesn't matter. Going forward, though, the Broncos can't kill themselves with penalties like they did this week committing 15 for 119 yards.

Connecticut might have lost to Western Michigan but it took another step forward in the passing game. For the second straight week, Johnny McEntee showed that he's the quarterback to revolve the offense around completing 22-of-39 passes for 300 yards and four scores, while Lyle McCombs balanced things out with 136 yards on 24 carries. The ten penalties were a problem but the breakdowns in the secondary were the reason for the loss, and now the Huskies get Geno Smith and West Virginia. McEntee and the Huskies have to be ready for another firefight.

(AP) EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Alex Carder threw for a career-high 479 yards and five touchdowns to lead Western Michigan to a 38-31 win over Connecticut on Saturday.

Two of those scores were caught by Jordan White, who had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season, catching 12 balls for 173 yards. He was one of three Bronco receivers to go over the century mark.

Robert Arnheim had 113 yards and Chleb Ravenell added 123 and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 41-yard catch that turned out to be the game winner.

Johnny McEntee threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns for UConn (2-3). Kashif Moore had two touchdown catches and 112 yards receiving and Lyle McCombs added 136 yards rushing and a 26-yard touchdown reception for the Huskies.

But UConn tight end Ryan Griffin fumbled after making a 26-yard catch at the Western Michigan 13-yard line with 45 seconds left and the Broncos held on to beat a BCS conference opponent for the first time this season.

The teams, which combined for 941 yards of offense, were tied at 17 going into what turned out to be a wild fourth quarter.

UConn scored the first of that quarter's five touchdowns, when McEntee found McCombs wide open behind the Broncos' blitzing linebackers for a 26-yard score to give UConn its only lead at 24-17. But Carder led the Broncos right back on a 9-play 80-yard drive, finding White in the right side of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown that tied the game.

The Broncos held UConn to a three-and-out, and then went 62-yards to take the lead again on a 14-yard pass from Carder to Ravenell.

UConn tied it again when McEntee scrambled and found Nick Williams on a fourth down from 26 yards out with just over 2 minutes left.

But that was more than enough time for the Broncos.

Two plays after UConn's kickoff went out of bounds, Ravenell raced down the right sideline and reached over cornerback Gary Wilburn to bring in a 41-yard touchdown with 1:35 left.

The Broncos, who had just 11 yards rushing, spent much of the afternoon picking on Wilburn, who played in place of injured Huskies captain Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

Arnheim beat Wilburn down the right sideline and made a one-handed 32-yard catch to set up the Broncos second touchdown, an 11-yard pass from Carder to tight end Dallas Walker.

After a first quarter that saw Western Michigan get more penalty yards (35) than offense (28), Carder and White began clicking in the second.

The Broncos went 66 yards on their first drive of that quarter and scored when White grabbed a slant pass and dragged several UConn defenders into the end zone for a 25-yard catch and run.

The Huskies didn't cross midfield until McCombs took a handoff at his own 7-yard line with just over 6 minutes left in the half, bounced off a tackle and ran 65 yards before tripping on the grass.

That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from McEntee to Moore, who juggled the ball, but managed to get a foot down in the back of the end zone.

Moore's second touchdown, a 3-yard reception on a play-action fake, was set up by his 47-yard catch and run. The 5-play 72-yard drive brought UConn to within 17-14 midway through the third quarter.

This was Western Michigan's third game this year against a team coming off a bowl appearance. The Broncos lost to Michigan 34-10 in a storm-shortened season opener, before falling to Illinois 23-20 on the road last week. They face three more bowl teams this season -- Northern Illinois, Toledo and Miami (Ohio).

Western Michigan improved to 3-8 against the Big East. The Broncos lost their only other meeting with UConn, 41-27 in 2003.

Connecticut, which beat Buffalo 17-3 a week ago, fell to 17-3 against the Mid-American Conference.

Huskies running back D.J. Shoemate, who was expected to start for Connecticut this season, did not dress for the game, and will seek a medical redshirt this season. Coach Paul Pasqualoni said Shoemate has a severally separated shoulder, suffered in a loss to Iowa State.

This loss comes at the end of a week in which Connecticut's governor confirmed the school has an interest in joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, if that league expands further after poaching Big East teams Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

UConn's president, Susan Herbst, is in Washington this weekend for a meeting with other Big East schools.

Western Michigan (2-2) at Connecticut (2-2) Oct. 1, 3:30, SNY

Here's The Deal … For the second straight week, Connecticut will square off with a MAC opponent as it prepares for the start of the Big East season. Last Saturday, the Huskies traveled to Buffalo, where it defeated the Bulls, 17-3, to snap a nagging two-game losing streak. Of almost greater importance, they may have finally settled their two-month-long quarterback battle, getting a much-needed solid effort out of Johnny McEntee.

Western Michigan will arrive at Rentschler Field as a very dangerous visitor. The Broncos have already been tested by a pair of Big Ten teams, and blew out rival Central Michigan in Week 3. They had ranked Illinois on the ropes in Champaign last Saturday before falling, 23-20. The MAC West contenders have one more chance to victimize a school from an AQ conference before jumping back into its own league schedule with both feet.

Why Western Michigan Might Win: The more that the ball is in the air, the better off the Broncos will be. They're led on offense by QB Alex Carder, a gifted passer who can also make plays with his feet. He's thrown seven touchdown passes in three games, teaming up 31 times for 376 yards and three scores with WR Jordan White. On defense, Western Michigan's strength has been defending the pass, which will provide an immediate challenge to McEntee's development. Aided by the pressure being created by DT Drew Nowak and DE Freddie Bishop, it's only given up one touchdown pass in the last three games, while ranking No. 6 nationally in pass defense.

Why Connecticut Might Win: The Broncos have excelled on passing plays, but not so much when the ball is kept on the ground. Their inability to generate a consistent running game will allow the Huskies to drop an extra man back in coverage. Led by LB Sio Moore, DT Kendall Reyes and the rest of an outstanding front seven, Connecticut ranks among the nation's top units in a bunch of different categories. Western Michigan's other issue has been stopping the run, especially after being gashed for almost 300 yards by Illinois last week. The task won't get much easier this Saturday versus a veteran Huskies line and emerging RB Lyle McCombs.

What To Watch Out For: White was sensational in September as he ran circles around opposing defensive backs. However, he's about to face one of his toughest tests of the seasons, a Connecticut secondary that's already picked off seven passes. Corners Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz are gifted cover guys who give away very little room, which could force Carder to diversify his options. It's a good thing for Western Michigan that Robert Arnheim and Chleb Ravenell are a pair of senior receivers who will bail out the quarterback when it's needed.

What Will Happen: The Big East will once again have its hands full with a MAC member, much the way Syracuse did against Toledo last Saturday. Western Michigan has already proven it can run with quality teams on the road, so a trip to East Hartford will not unnerve this group. Connecticut will successfully drag the Broncos into the alley, forcing them to survive in a physical game. In the tussle for tempo, the Huskies will control the clock on the ground, getting 100 yards from McCombs, but it won't be enough. The WMU passing game will be good enough to get up, and UConn won't have any answers.

CFN Prediction: Western Michigan 27 ... Connecticut 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Connecticut -3   O/U: 44.5

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