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And in that corner… The Western Michigan Broncos

Oct 13, 2010, 12:58 AM EDT

It’ll be a historic Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, when the first ever Mid-American Conference team takes on Notre Dame when the Irish play the Western Michigan Broncos. The match-up marks the first time the Irish have played Western Michigan since 1920, with the Irish blanking WMU 53-0 in 1919 and 41-0 in 1920.

With little knowledge of the Western Michigan squad, we’re turning to the dynamic duo of Zeke Trezevant and Chris Willis, who cover the Broncos for the Western Herald, the student newspaper at WMU. Zeke is a senior communications major that’s the sports editor for the paper and Chris is a senior political science and media communication major that covers the Bronco’s beat.

Consider this a double-dose of Broncos’ expertise, as the Irish get their first look at a MAC team as their neighbors from Kalamazoo head south with a team very fired up for their first trip to South Bend in 90 years.

Inside the Irish: Assess the season so far. Are the Broncos playing up to expectations or have the opening five games been a disappointment?

Chris Willis: The Broncos are a team that’s still finding its identity. I would say
the season thus far has been disappointing, but we expect wins out of
our program.

Zeke Trezevant: So far, the season has definitely not been what I thought it would or
could be but thats because of the potential I know the team has.

ITI: It seems as if quarterback Alex Carder is the engine that runs the
offense — an offense that leads your conference. For those of us that
haven’t watched him play, can you compare him to another college
quarterback that plays in a higher-profile program?

CW: He’s really not comparable to any QB’s in college football that I can
think of. He can run and throw well, but he’s a first year starter, so
again, he’s still searching for his niche.

ZT: He has his own style to how he plays the game. The closest person I
could compare his style to is Greg McElroy from Alabama. McElroy doesn’t
throw the ball nearly as much as Carder does, but I think their styles
are similar.

ITI: Not so long ago, Brian Kelly was coaching in the MAC. It may have been before your time, but do
you think his experience within the conference is an advantage this Saturday?

CW: Yes, definitely. I feel that this goes both ways though. Although obviously Kelly has players that are far more superior.

ZT: Without a doubt. Coaches who have a familarity with a school is an
advantage in itself, being familiar with a particular coach helps even
more. I dont know how much it will matter this Saturday though. I’m sure
coach Bill Cubit has thought of ways around it.

ITI: Kelly seems to have great respect for coach Bill Cubit. What have you seen out of him in his five seasons in Kalamazoo?

CW: Heart, respect, tradition, and most important a great MAC record. I hope he stays for a long while.

ZT: I’ve only been here for going on three seasons, but what I’ve seen is a
coach who is down to earth. He’s a man’s man and knows how to work with
what he’s been given. We’ve been to three bowl games in school history.
He led us to two of them. I think that speaks for itself.

ITI: What does this game mean to Western Michigan? Is there a buzz on
campus? Will a lot of people make the trip to South Bend? Do students
and fans think the Broncos can spring the upset?

CW: It means a lot to be the first MAC school to ever play ND. There is a buzz, but we’re realist, so how happy can we really be?

ZT: This game means the world to WMU. Winning this game would be monumental
for the season, especially coming off of last week’s win. I do feel that
there is a certain buzz around campus. Its not overwhelming by any
means but I do think that the average fan knows we’re playing Notre Dame
and is excited about it. I’m not too sure how many fans will make it
out but we’ll show up. As far as the upset, I think any true Bronco fan
knows its a possibility. Crazier things have happened.

ITI: What’s the formula for a Western Michigan victory? Gut feeling on what happens?

CW: A flawless performance on all three facets of the game. not to
mention 200 + yards on the ground to keep the Irish off of the field.

ZT: I expect it to be a close game either way. I think it’ll be a somewhat low scoring affair, but we’ll see.

A special thanks to both Chris and Zeke for making time in their busy schedules for a little advanced scouting. For more on this week’s game from the Broncos’ perspective, check out their work in the sports page at the Western Herald.

  1. Sean - Oct 13, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Whatever these two guys are smoking I want some. Irish by at least 3 touchdowns.

  2. Jason - Oct 13, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    I agree Nd is favored by 24 and they think it will be a close, low scoring game? Come on! On that note when was the last time the Irish were expected to win by 24 points?

  3. Brendan M - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    A close game? Didn’t Idaho beat Western by 20 points 2 weeks ago…in Kalamazoo?
    Irish will drop at least 35, hopefully fifty

  4. BryanW - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    I want 50.

  5. RichG - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    I want Rudolf back

  6. KevinG - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    “Winning this game would be monumental for the season”
    Two ways to take this 1) ND’s star has fallen so far that the fans of our opponents no longer see us as the signature win for a program 2) These guys do not really have a good handle on the college footbal landscape

  7. mateo - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    well, we almost certainly get his senior year now.

  8. Smith - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Kevin- They played MSU first game of the season who is better than ND. I think a win over them(MSU)would have been bigger than a win over you guys. Look at the records of MSU and ND. MSU is undefeated and on top of the world. ND is on the opposite side of the spectrum.
    If you are talking about the quality in names of the schools than ND by far has that one won but if youre talking about the actual quality of the TEAM, then MSU would have been a bigger win this season.

  9. B. Dillon - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    If this game is close then I am going to order a case of holy candles and lite one every day for the rest of the season. ND by 24 is unheard of territory …..We have come out look smooth and drop at least 45-49 on them. Go Irish!

  10. Outsider - Oct 13, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    a win over ND is always a bigger win than MSU no matter the record!

  11. Smith - Oct 13, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    lol sorry, I was just trying not to be biased. Excuse me.

  12. patrick - Oct 13, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    an* historic

  13. Beej - Oct 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    I imagine the Irish must have been rather large favorites against San Diego State and Syracuse in 2008.
    (Insert resigned sigh here.)

  14. Jim Kress - Oct 13, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    So far this season, (with the exception of Stanford) we’ve played down to the level of every opponent. I don’t see this getting any better for this game.
    If BK keeps the team from needing new helmets to contain their swelled heads, we will probably win. However, as Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconson, Iowa, Penn State, etc know, you understimate a MAC foe at your own peril.
    This will be a tough, hard fought game. We will not win by 21 or more points. We’ll be fortunate to win by 14, if that.

  15. John - Oct 13, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I think that its tough to really gauge this WMU team because of all the fresh faces. MSU was the first ever college start for QB Alex Carder and he performed admirably given the situation.
    Also, in the loss to Toledo Carder unravelled… throwing four interceptions and fumbling the ball twice… not a recipe for a good showing against anyone… Idaho game Carder got smacked in the face on the first play… never really put his head on straight after that one. (not to mention two of WMU’s dbacks got in a fight on the field and were removed for the entire game.. still not back in starting rotation).
    Last week (albeit it was BSU).. they forced turnovers… got on that side of the ball and Carder came out the way he did at MSU… and look what happened. (albeit this BSU throttled CMU in Mt. Pleasant the week before… )..
    Point – This WMU team is totally Jekyl and Hyde… depending on what Alex Carder shows up and how the many RS-Frosh and True Frosh respond its hard to predict how this game unfolds. (WMU plays 20 freshman in rotation… starting a majority… this is a YOUNG WMU squad).

  16. RJ - Oct 13, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Michigan State is a far better team than ND this year. A win over MS would have been very impressive. ND fans still drinking too much cool aide.

  17. Kevin LeBlanc - Oct 13, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    RJ & John: This game isn’t going to be close. Bringing up the San Diego State game is irrelevant for a couple of reasons: (1) very different team makeup and (2) Notre Dame was coming off a 3-9 season with no proven leadership. Sure the identity of the team has remained to a degree, but when a team takes their first trip to ND stadium, it’s not a walk in the park, especially when they are outmanned at every single position on the field. It’s going to be like the Washington State game, where Notre Dame should have won by more, but were still in control the entire game. Western Michigan is not any good. That they gave MSU a little trouble in the first quarter is a testament to Michigan State’s inconsistent passing game to start the season. Michigan State is playing WAY better football than they were the first week. This is a MAC team. The Irish will be ready and it will be something like 38-17 with no problems.

  18. Sean - Oct 13, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Not quite sure how you can say that MSU is so much better than the Irish considering we took them overtime. Is MSU better, clearly, are they heads and shoulders better? Absolutely not. This Irish team is better than everyone thinks. Not great by any stretch of the imagination but against an extremely competitive schedule they are 3-3 and could easily be 5-1. I firmly believe those two losses come down to the fact that this team is still learning BK’s system, particularly on offense. Talent alone on both sides of the ball make them competitive when healthy. Getting used to a completely different system is what’s keeping this team from being as good as a team like MSU.

  19. Irish Fan - Oct 13, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    This game should not be close.
    We should crush Western Michigan.
    They don’t recruit the same type of athletes that we do.
    Our coaches and facilities are much better.
    Of course, that’s why they play the Games for real and not on paper.
    If we lose, it’s a sure sign that God is upset with all the predatory priests molesting all those small children.
    Go Irish.

  20. borromini - Oct 13, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    Well, I want Santa back, but it isn’t going to happen.

  21. Elroy Kona - Oct 13, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    Would like to see ND build a significant lead by Q3 so we can put in Nate Montana and some of the other 2nd stringers. Nate seems like a good young man and I’d like to see him get more playing experience. Same goes for Jonas Gray and Robert Hughes. (I presume Cierre Wood will start if AA is indeed injured as reports suggested today.) Also it would be nice to see Duval Kamara eclipse 30 yards receiving for the year, so please throw it that man’s way. Go Irish. That is all.

  22. Jeff - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    Jesus H. The future of Journalism with these knuckleheads doesn’t look very bright. They can put a “Featured on NBC Sports Notre Dame Site as football analyst” on their resume and that’s the best they have?
    Keith — you should have deep sixed this one.

  23. greg bell - Oct 14, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    MSU is a far better team? They beat ND at their place on a fluke. ND deserved to win that game. ND would have beaten UM if their QB had not been hurt. Stanford is the only bad lass for ND, and they would waste MSU.
    ND by 30.

  24. John - Oct 14, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    Sound like a bitter ND fan to me lol.
    Dont get mad because these guys believe in their school. Whats the best you have on your resume? That you COMMENTED on their “feature on NBC Sports Notre Dame Site as a football analyst?” You’re a lame. Go sit on your couch and keep refreshing the page while you and your other ND buddies hate on these kids trying to make it in the world.
    You want them to get on here and say “Yeah, we’re going to lose by 30” Come on guy, they didnt say WMU would win, they just said it’d be close. Lay off.Dont blame your horrible season on these guys or WMU. Go tell your boys to learn how to win a game and stop choking when it matters most.

  25. Nick - Oct 14, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    I go to WMU and know Zeke, even went to high school with him. Trust me, he has no idea about the college football landscape. A win for Western Michigan would forever be a star on our resume. All he knows about is the University of Georgia.

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