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Syracuse vs. Western Michigan: TV/streaming, time, odds, history, & more

The long offseason is over. It’s actually game week!

NCAA Football: Central Connecticut State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Teams: Syracuse Orange (0-0, 0-0) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (0-0, 0-0)

Day & Time: Friday, August 31, 6 p.m. ET

Location: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Line: Syracuse, -6

TV/Streaming: CBS Sports Network/CBS Sports HQ

Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193

Western Michigan blog: Hustle Belt

Rivalry: N/A, first meeting

Current Streak: See above

First Meeting: This would be it. Feel like we’ve mentioned it several times already now.

Last Meeting: In some alternate reality, Syracuse has faced Western Michigan numerous times over the last 128 years. The most recent, in that timeline, was a 30-26 victory in 2014. Scott Schaeffer beat EJ Fleck at the Carrier Dome. Things were so simple then.

Head Coaches: SU: Dino Babers (3rd year, 8-16); Western Michigan: Tim Lester (2nd year, 6-6)

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Bio: OH BOY, DO WE KNOW TIM. Lester served on the Syracuse coaching staff from 2013-15, including a season and a half at the Orange’s offensive coordinator. Tim played at WMU from 1996-99, then headed to XFL (as you well know). “Submarine” moved onto the Arena League for a bit, then took over as Elmhurst’s offensive coordinator by 2002. That led him to St. Joseph’s, then back to Western Michigan as a QBs coach. A brief trip to North Central led to becoming Elmhurst’s head coach, then joining Scott Shafer in Syracuse. After the staff departed, he was Purdue’s quarterbacks coach before his alma mater came calling for the head job.

Last Year: The Broncos played reasonably well in two close-ish losses to USC and Michigan State to start the season, then won four straight against lesser competition (including a record-setting shootout versus Buffalo) to get to 4-2. They’d get to 5-3 before losing QB Jon Wassink for the season. From there, they’d drop three of four and miss a bowl game despite getting to six wins.

Last Game: Western Michigan wrapped up the 2017 season at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, where the Rockets stopped them, 37-10. Toledo had over 450 yards on the day, while controlling the ball for a significant amount of time. The Broncos struggled on the ground (95 yards) and barely got the passing game going either.

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Wassink may have struggled against quality defenses, but feasted on poor secondaries last year. In eight games, he had 1,391 passing yards and 14 scores (versus just four interceptions). The run game, led by Jamauri Bogan, is going to get the headlines. But WMU’s chances of winning probably depend on Wassink’s return and his ability to build on the quality numbers he put up against later foes on the schedule.

If Syracuse Wins: Well, this is exactly what’s supposed to happen, no? The Orange winning means we’re 1-0 and pick up a critical victory toward potential bowl eligibility. Plus, it’s nice to be able to beat a former SU coach, especially after the Scott Shafer cigar nonsense last year.

If Syracuse Loses: Speaking of cigar nonsense... that’s the probable result here, even if Lester likely has less interest in making a public display of being seen with a cigar in his mouth. The more important negative result is Syracuse dropping a critical road game to a former assistant, being 0-1 and now needing to pull an upset or two in order to go bowling. Oof. Not an ideal start just a week into the season.

NCAA Football: ACC Media Days Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Fun Fact No. 1: There’s a slew of former Syracuse staffers and/or players at WMU. Along with Lester, Jake Moreland and Tim Daoust run the offense and defense, respectively. Juwan Dowels grad-transferred to Western Michigan this offseason, Steven Clark was medically disqualified this spring but is still part of the program. Former staffers Nick Sanchez and Drew Robinson are also there.

Fun Fact No. 2: Western Michigan is the only FBS directional Michigan that Syracuse has yet to face. They’re 1-0 against Eastern Michigan, with a 52-24 win in 1995. The Orange are also 4-0 against CMU, with the most recent victory coming last season. So knock on wood, SU is also undefeated against directional Michigans thus far.