San Jose State vs. Western Michigan: Game Preview, How to Watch, Livestream, Odds, Prediction
The Spartans hit the road to face Western Michigan. Here’s how to stream the game and what to watch for against the Broncos.
A sneaky fun matchup between two good teams.
WEEK 4: San Jose State Spartans (2-1, 1-1 Mountain West) vs Western Michigan Broncos (2-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 25 — 11:00 AM PT/12:00 PM MT
WHERE: Waldo Stadium; Kalamazoo, MI
You can also find the San Jose State audio broadcast on The Varsity Network app, which is available for Android and Apple devices. The Western Michigan audio broadcast can be streamed via Jack1065.com.
RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found in and around the Bay Area on 860 AM (KTRB). The Western Michigan broadcast can be found in Kalamazoo on 106.5 FM (WVFM).
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between San Jose State and Western Michigan.
LAST WEEK: San Jose State defeated Hawaii on the road, 17-13, while Western Michigan beat Pitt on the road, 44-41.
ODDS (as of 9/22, via Vegas Insider): Western Michigan -3
SP+ PROJECTION: Western Michigan by 3.6
FEI PROJECTION: Western Michigan by 8.0
After opening Mountain West play with a hard-fought win, the San Jose State Spartans will shift back into non-conference play and face the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday morning.
While WMU hasn’t received a great deal of attention so far in 2021, their powerful offense is rounding into form and put college football on notice last weekend with an upset win over a solid Power 5 program. A contrast of styles should make this game a fascinating one to watch, but here’s how the Spartans can escape the conference’s latest bout with MACtion victorious.
Three Keys to a San Jose State Victory
1. Create some breaks on defense.
San Jose State has had a propensity for opportunism over the last few years, but they’ve been unable to convert close plays into turnovers so far in 2021. Despite racking up 20 passes defended in three games, tied for third among FBS teams, the Spartans have grabbed zero interceptions and forced just two fumbles (though they have recovered both).
They’ll need whatever they can get against a Western Michigan offense that is both balanced and dangerous. Broncos quarterback Kaleb Eleby has a 0.8% interception rate and 23 touchdown passes in nine games dating back to the beginning of 2020, while the running back duo of LaDarius Washington and Sean Tyler has combined for 4.93 yards per carry and seven touchdowns on 89 rushing attempts in this young season. Last year’s defensive stars, like Cade Hall and Viliami Fehoko, have been relatively quiet on the stat sheet to this point, but how much the secondary can make Eleby pay for his rare mistakes could go a long way toward deciding the outcome.
2. Get Nick Starkel right.
After breaking out as one of college football’s best stories in 2020, the Spartans quarterback has been surprisingly uneven in the early going this year. He’s thrown at least one interception in each of SJSU’s three games to date and struggled with consistency against both USC and Hawaii, putting up a passer rating under 100 in both contests.
A matchup with the Broncos defense could be the remedy, though, since both Michigan and Pitt were able to pass the ball pretty much at will. Those two combined to complete 74.5% of their attempts and average 12.4 yards per pass with nine touchdowns through the air. As a team, WMU has allowed a 53% success rate, ranking 121st in the country, which means that now is as good a time as any for Starkel and company to get their groove back.
3. Find a more consistent running game.
The Broncos have provided a little more resistance defending the run, though their season average is skewed a bit because of WMU’s shutout against Illinois State. Against Michigan and Pitt, Western Michigan gave up 6.12 yards per carry.
Theoretically, this is a hindrance of which the Spartans should be able to take advantage, but without Tyler Nevens last week against Hawaii, Kairee Robinson scuffled to just 55 yards on 21 carries. San Jose State has found ways around an unimpressive run game in the past, whether by utilizing Robinson in the short passing game or Nick Nash as a quarterback change-up, but whatever solution they settle on against WMU, it needs to work well enough to keep the game from evolving into a shootout since that’s something the Broncos would happily take on.
The Spartans have looked out of sorts for most of their past two games, which won’t cut it against a Western Michigan offense that has picked up a head of steam throughout non-conference action. San Jose State’s best bet to win this game on the road is to make enough defensive stops and craft enough long drives to keep the Broncos off the field, but that latter component seems like a gamble to come through. Expect a tight battle either way, but one the Spartans will want back once it’s over.
Western Michigan 38, San Jose State 34