Western Michigan was two close conference matchups against against Bowling Green and Northern Illinois from being a bowl team last fall. The Broncos have a new head coach this year in recent Louisville, Notre Dame and NFL assistant Lance Taylor, and it is easy to think they will sink to the bottom of the MAC West because of the program transition as it resets. But with eight offensive starters returning, the Broncos at least will score points — but the question is, can they stop anybody?
WESTERN MICHIGAN 2023 PREVIEW
THE CONF.: Mid-American Conference (MAC)
2022 RECORD: 5-7 (no postseason)
CONF. FINISH: 3rd in MAC West.
HEAD COACH: Lance Taylor (1st year at school; 1st year overall)
FIVE ALL-STAR CANDIDATES: Keni-H Lovely, Sr./CB (47 tackles, 4 INTs); Jacob Gideon, Jr./OC (27 career games so far at WMU); Addison West, Jr./OG (12 starts at all three interior line positions); Marshawn Kneeland, Jr./DE (38 tackles, TFL); Jahlani Galloway, Sr./WR (344 yards receiving).
THE NEWCOMER: Hayden Wolff, Jr./QB (5,578 passing yards during Old Dominion career).
The consensus is, this program will be downtrodden, and there are certainly reasons for that sentiment. The defense is almost completely rebuilding, there is a new head coach in Lance Taylor, an NFL Draft Pick left the program at the QB position (Kaleb Eleby), and obviously there are more issues than those. But at the same time, for the optimists out there, the new potential transfer QB is a 5,000-yard-plus QB from a Group of Five team (ODU) in Hayden Wolff.
If Wolff's good, which he's certainly capable of being, this offense is going to crank it out.
The question is in the defense, which returns only two starters from 2022. The team gave up some points last year, and now stands to need some surprises to not repeat that. It will be a massive challenge not to.
THE KEY GAME AND WHY
We will go with the road matchups at Ball State and Central Michigan. If this program wants to make Taylor look good in its first year? It's needs to win two games in the MAC, and these are two possibilities.
THE TOUGHEST GAME AND WHY
The non-conference P5 games at Syracuse, Iowa and Mississippi State are obvious near-lock losses. The non-conference slate certainly doesn't help things for this program. In conference? It's tough to even pick the toughest game, just go with one of the "Key Games" from above.
THE CHANCES OF MAKING CONF. TITLE GAME
None, and honestly there is no reason to elaborate in 2023. In future seasons? This once strong program (13-1 under P.J. Fleck in 2016) could truly change that under Taylor.
The non-conference slate is brutal. The only guaranteed win is FCS St. Francis, and some pundits at that level think this program may win a conference title and make the FCS playoffs. The other non-conference games will not produce wins, and WMU may have one of the most brutal MAC schedule-rotation slates in 2023. It's not looking real good for WMU.
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