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Friends With Bennies: Hustle Belt talks Western Michigan

This is two straight weeks we go straight to the source for a look at UConn's opponent. Joining us today is Brandon, the Western Michigan writer from SBNation's MAC blog, Hustle Belt.

He gives us a look at how the Huskies match up with a hungry Western Michigan squad, why this is a bad week for UConn to be missing its top cornerback, and a shocking game prediction that really isn't so shocking once you consider that UConn scored 17 friggin' points on Buffalo last week.

I also answered some questions over at Hustle Belt, so check that out as well.

Take it away, Brandon:

TheUConnBlog: What's WMU's strength on offense? The Huskies appear to have a solid, aggressive defense at every level; what can the Broncos do to give them trouble?

Hustle Belt: We love the pass. Prepare to meet Jordan White. He leads the nation in receptions, and is 2nd in yards. He returns punts too. Behind him is a nice core of receivers, most notably Robert Arnheim and Chleb Ravenell. Our run game is still a work-in-progress, but isn't bad. The key will be the line. Our line is currently banged up a bit, and me might start a true freshman Saturday. However, if Alex Carder can build a lead for us, I won't be worried. If it comes to crunch time, I will cry. He is 0-2 on game winning drives in his career.

More below the jump:

TheUConnBlog: Defensively, can WMU stop the run? Can they defend the worst passing attack ever?

Hustle Belt: Finesse run? Yes. Power run? No (see last week). They did play a GREAT first half last week on D though, so I would be worried. This is a solid core, and can defend a decent pass attack, just not a good one. Judge that for yourself. If we don't shoot ourselves like last week with two BAD penalties, we are a good squad. Player to watch: #99 Paul Hazel. He is a fierce DE, with no fat on him.

TheUConnBlog: Any threat of a letdown for WMU after coming close to knocking off a top 25 team (Illinois, in a 23-20 loss) last week?

Hustle Belt: I hope not. There is always the threat that after a big game like that, you come back and play bad. But keep something in mind, Western played that game last week after a HUGE win over fierce rival Central last week. There was letdown worries last week, but we came to play.

TheUConnBlog: The Broncos were tabbed among the favorites to win the MAC - through the first month of the season, is that still the case? What is WMU's ceiling in 2011?

Hustle Belt: Oddly enough, I was the only one that had Western as pre-season MAC West winner (and MAC Champ winner). Everyone had Western as top 3 in the West (top 6 overall), but few had Western as MAC West champs, and no one as overall Champs. Given what has happened the past month, the Broncos are looking like serious threats to go to Detroit. Ball State has played well, albeit against iffy competition, Northern Illinois has SERIOUS problems on D, and Toledo could be so demoralized after their last 3 weeks, you have to wonder where they are at mentally. I still have Toledo as the biggest contender, but Western is poised to seriously contend for the MAC Title.

TheUConnBlog: If/when Western Michigan wins, can you all act like it was a big deal? We'll even pretend we were a legitimate BCS bowl-caliber team last year and everything.

Hustle Belt: How UCONN got to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and Temple got to sit at home and watch last year is still baffling to me. It's hard for me to pretend UCONN is still relevant when you look and see they lost their head coach, star running back, and starting QB. I personally have stated that if we don't win this game, and something unforeseeable doesn't happen, then I will be calling for Bill Cubit's head.

TheUConnBlog: So, how about basketball? Er, I mean, how about a score prediction?

Hustle Belt: If it rains Saturday, the dynamic of the game changes so much. Western has looked shaky in the rain. I do think however that they will still be able to outperform the Huskies, en route to a 31-14 victory on Saturday


Yikes, predicting UConn to lose by 17 at home to a MAC team? Although I guess given what our previous coach did against a MAC team...

Anyways, thanks to Brandon over at Hustle Belt and best of luck to his beloved Broncos; check out the site, as the MAC will probably be UConn's football home in 2013! Haha, it's funny because it's horribly depressing.