Western Michigan looks dangerous to Michigan State Spartans football team

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

In its first game after losing P.J. Fleck, Zach Terrell and Corey Davis, Western Michigan still looked plenty capable of competing against top competition.

That adds a bit of buzz to this weekend’s game at Michigan State.

WMU went unbeaten in the regular season in 2016 before winning the Mid-American Conference title and eventually falling to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Terrell, the quarterback, and Davis, the star receiver, were seniors. Fleck, the Broncos’ up-and-coming coach, left to take over at Minnesota. None of that seemed like a big deal when WMU kept it close in a 49-31 loss to Southern California last weekend.

Tim Lester, the Broncos’ new coach, was pleased with how his players handled themselves in their most recent big game.

“They showed up and they were focused,” Lester said. “That made it about the football and not about the environment.”

If WMU wants to establish itself as a clear threat to win another MAC title, beating another Big Ten school would certainly be a statement. The Broncos topped Northwestern and Illinois during last year’s run.

Michigan State is coming off a dreadful 3-9 season but handled Bowling Green 35-10 in this year’s opener. Every game is crucial for the Spartans. If they lose to WMU, it could be a tough road back to bowl eligibility.

Michigan State’s defense shut down Bowling Green but will now be tested by a WMU team that ran for 263 yards against USC.

“They played very well against USC obviously. I’m sure everybody saw that football game, and you know, MAC champions and playing in the Cotton Bowl last year,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “So they played at a high level and they expect to win and it will be another challenge for us.”