1. QB carousel. Uncertainty abounds regarding the quarterbacking situation for both teams. Joe Licata got the start in place of the injured Alex Zordich last week and helped UB to its first win over an FBS team in almost a year. But coach Jeff Quinn tends to shy from public disclosure on personnel decisions and hasn’t declared Licata his starter for today. All three in a QB trio that includes No. 3 Tony Daniel took snaps in practice this week. On the Western Michigan side, senior Alex Carder is back in the picture for the first time since injuring a finger on his throwing hand vs. UConn on Sept. 22. He passed for 3,873 yards with seven 300-plus games last season, both school records. He had thrown for 1,049 yards and eight TDs before the injury. His replacement, junior Tyler Van Tubbergen, has thrown for 1,825 yards and 15 TDs while completing almost 61 percent of his throws. There’s no distinct difference in the offense depending on the QB. The Broncs favor the pass but have a more potent run game than UB’s foe of a week ago, Miami.
2. Defending the fort. UB has allowed more than 25 points once in five home games and that was to Morgan State. What’s more, the Bulls finally have started producing some turnovers to help the offense’s cause. A secondary retooled because of injuries has been solid and will need to play to that standard again today against the MAC’s second-most productive pass offense. Both Derek Brim, the replacement at free safety, and Marqus Baker, a replacement at corner, are coming off big games against Miami. Defensive coordinator Lou Tepper mixed up the schemes with great success against the RedHawks, sometimes bringing pressure and other times flooding the secondary.
3. The constants. The Bulls rank 34th in the nation at 193 rushing yards per outing despite missing workhorse RB Branden Oliver, right, in four of those games. A lot of the credit goes to an offensive line of Andre Davis, Graham Whinery, Trevor Sales, Jasen Carlson and Gokhan Ozkan that has remained intact throughout the season. In most past meetings UB had a difficult time matching up with the Broncs in the trenches. That shouldn’t be the case today. Only once this season, at Northern Illinois, did the Bulls suffer a decisive defeat up front.
4. Get a handle. Statistics suggests turnovers will have an impact today. WMU ranks 10th in the MAC in turnover margin and UB’s two spots lower. The Broncs have forced 11 fumbles and recovered seven of them. UB will need to account for LB Paul Hazel, who has forced three fumbles and produced four of WMU’s 22 QB sacks. On the flip side, UB’s forced just two fumbles but those came in the last two games. Pass pressure from linebackers Khalil Mack (4.5 sacks) and Lee Skinner (4 sacks) and DEs Colby Way (4.5 sacks) and Steven Means (3.5) can create INT chances for a secondary that’s growing more opportunistic.
5. Extra points WMU leads the series, 5-0, with the last two victories coming in OT. The teams last met in 2009 … The Broncos sprung for 28 fourth-quarter points in last week’s comeback win over CMU, the second time this season they’ve had a 28-point period. … Licata last week became the fourth starting QB in the tenure of third-year coach Jeff Quinn. … Final home game in the careers of starters Means, Whinery, Ozkan, NG Wyatt Cahill and LBs Issac Baugh and Willie Moseley. … Bulls haven’t won two straight since end of 2009 season.
Outlook: Now that offense finally has some confidence … UB, 27-24.