WMU moves on to MSU after near-upset

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold, right, is sacked by Western Michigan defensive lineman Eric Assoua during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan nearly pulled off the impossible last Saturday.

The unranked Broncos were tied with and even held multiple leads against No. 4 USC, but watched their hopes of pulling off the upset disappear down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

“To be that close with six minutes left and you’re on the 18-(yard line) going in and you’re down seven at USC, we have to do a better job than to kick a field goal and going backwards,” head coach Tim Lester said. “Late in the game, we ran out of juice a little bit, it was hot.”

Despite taking the loss, Lester found many positives to take from the contest moving forward, including his team’s next opportunity at an upset.

“Everyone talks about how much you can learn from week one to week two and how much better you get, and my job is to remind them that Michigan State is going to get better too,” Lester said. “There’s so much to learn from each guy to the way they fit every block to the way we should have checked this and we need to get this done.”

In week two, WMU will travel to Michigan State to take on a Spartan team rebounding from a disappointing 3-9 season a year ago.

“They’re going to be just like the rest of the other Michigan State teams from the last 10 years,” Lester said. “They’re going to be physical and come at us. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said he was impressed with WMU’s performance and that it helped his team understand this is a game they have to take seriously.

“It was impressive that they had an opportunity to beat the No. 4 team in the country, and they hung right there and had a chance to win the Cotton Bowl,” he said.

Dantonio said that dating back to the 2015 matchup between the two programs, the game was extremely competitive and WMU’s players are going to compete.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.