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What You Need To Know: Western Michigan

Here's your quick refresher on what WMU brings to the table and what Iowa fans need to know going into Saturday's game.

Here, Tyler Van Tubbergen is upright and unpressured, and that is not okay.
Here, Tyler Van Tubbergen is upright and unpressured, and that is not okay.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the deal: The Western Michigan game might not be fun.

Oh, it'll probably be a win, seeing as how Iowa's favored by 16.5 points and 16.5-point favorites win a healthy 91 percent of the time. We're willing to bet on that coin coming up heads.

It's just that the game's probably going to be closer for longer than any of us would like, because Western Michigan is kinda sorta decent, and the places it's good are the places that can create headaches for Iowa.

WMU's receivers are pretty good, especially true freshman Corey Davis. His partner in crime is Timmy Keith, and if there's one thing that can drive an opponent insane it's a wide receiver with two first names. Especially if those names are "Timmy Keith." Lord. "Timmy Keith" is like one step, maybe a step and a half, above "Jim Bob."

The good news is that QB Tyler Van Tubbergen (long U on his last name, as if that makes it any less great) is still in the adjustment process with the new offense and his completion percentage has suffered as a result, going from 60% to 44%.

Of course, it doesn't help that WMU has played 66% of its season against Big Ten foes with very good secondaries as opposed to last year (and where WMU will be at the end of the year), when two-thirds of the season is MAC competition where competent secondary play is illegal. So Van Tubbergen probably isn't that much worse off than last year. He's still underperforming, though.

What you need to know is that Iowa needs to bring pressure on Van Tubbergen early and often. If it can get it with four rushers, it'll be a long day for the Broncos and the beers will taste delicious for Iowa fans. If Iowa has to start blitzing, that's probably fine; Iowa's looked surprisingly competent when those have been dialed up, and it doesn't hurt that Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey are fast little bastards. It's just that that means single coverage on the outside more often, and we've already established that WMU has good receivers, and we've already seen what Iowa State's good receivers did to Iowa's secondary in the second half, and, and, and hang on one second won't you please thank you

(hyperventilating into a paper bag)

I'm all right.

You also need to know that Western Michigan is not deep on defense, but its starting eleven is talented enough to give good teams fits. Michigan State scored one offensive touchdown. Northwestern got shut down for the first 21 minutes of the game and didn't take the lead for good until six minutes were left in the first half. Nicholls State—well, Nicholls State is not a good team to lose to and WMU did exactly that so remember, we're talking about a middling MAC team.

Still, just realize that unless things go Iowa's way, this isn't going to be a 21-0 game in the first quarter and it probably won't be a 21-point lead by halftime. Iowa's offensive line should at least assert its will up front pretty early and often; the Broncos gave up over 500 rushing yards combined to Michigan State and Northwestern, and Iowa's front five is about on par with those teams' lines.

But the WMU front seven tackles well enough that drives will have to be sustained through third downs, and yardage will be more difficult to come by in the red zone where there's no space to stretch the WMU defense vertically (ha ha, I know, you say Iowa doesn't do that anyway but if you've paid attention at all this season you've seen a more normal approach from Iowa and Greg Davison that front). So long drives might turn into three points and 4th-and-1s might not be automatic conversions. Be aware of that. Expect points to not come easily.

But yes, expect an Iowa win all the same. This isn't 2000 or 2007 for either team. It's 2013, and 2013 Iowa is substantially better than 2013 Western Michigan.