At WMU, Players And Fans Alike Have Been Willing To 'row'

PJ Fleck

Western Michigan played two Power Five teams (Illinois and Northwestern) in non-conference games, making a reasonable effort (though not a supreme one) to challenge itself.

The No. 13 Broncos will try to keep their ideal 12-0 record alive when they take on Ohio University's Bobcats Friday in their first MAC Championship game since 1988. The teams did not play each other during the 2016 regular season.

In Western Michigan's final home game of the season, Justin Ferguson injured his ankle and had to be taken off on a stretcher. Quarterback Zach Terrell has a 30-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season, which if it holds after this game, may break the NCAA all-time record. Getting in the championship game is something that everyone in the MAC conference is after and it was not easy. The Bobcats used a pair of Louie Zervos field goals to take a 6-0 lead into halftime and held on from there, as the OH defense kept the Zips out of the end zone all game long, including on a late drive near the red zone. Read that last sentence again, as it's stunningly impressive. Jarvion Franklin is 20th in the country in rushing and his backup, Jamauri Bogan, ran for 198 yards against a good Toledo team last week.

OH has had that plan before, against WMU, and it didn't pan out. No one in the national media has picked the Bobcats to win the game, but that hasn't phased them in the slightest. Pressure is well and truly on.

For the Bobcats, their last MAC title came in 1968, three years after head coach Frank Solich finished playing fullback at Nebraska. That's to be expected to some degree as they haven't been as impressive on route to this stage, with a 6-2 conference record and 8-4 overall, and won the East Division on the back of a tiebreaker over Miami of Ohio. They did push Tennessee of the SEC in a fairly narrow 28-19 defeat, entering the fourth quarter only two points down on the Vols. They are more aggressive than anybody we've played.

After all, it's just a football game.

"We're a team that's all about stopping the run so we have do what we do best".

The WMU football Broncos, now 12-0 and 8-0 in the MAC, are ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25, No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 17 in the CFP rankings going into the championship game.

Game planning to slow down Corey Davis - As sensation a senior season as Davis is having (83 receptions, 1283 yards, 17 TDs), he has been kept under 100 yards on eight occasions this season, so it's possible to reduce his impact.

Poling said Ohio's secondary has done well for being inexperienced. No touchdowns scored, but this team continues to find ways to win so really proud of the group and the season that they've had. However, not all offenses are created equal and the Broncos are a cut above.

Quarterback Zach Terrell was a redshirt freshman during Fleck's first season. He'll pick you apart if he has time in the pocket to survey the field.

Western Michigan University's Broncos have rowed the boat all the way to the Mid-American Conference Championship game at Ford Field. Maxwell threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the decisive victory, one that featured OH sacking Buffalo seven times.

The Broncos haven't screwed up too much this season, as their turnover margin is at plus-18 the best in the FBS. They can not concede possession cheaply.

The Ohio defensive line will have an interesting look at times vs. WMU for fans of the Cardinals. It was his personality that set him apart right away.

Fleck said he likes to keep his players loose on new fields and, since they always practice in the morning the day before a game, this little game of swoosh was a ideal introduction to Ford Field after the team practiced Thursday morning. If the Bobcats can hold up there, they'll have a chance.

Ohio's following game was against FCS foe Gardner-Webb, one the Bobcats escaped with another 37-21 victory.

Western Michigan versus Navy -plenty of reasonable arguments can be made for both teams to be the G-5 representative one month from now. "They understand exactly where they are, and how hard it is to get to this point". Leave some predictions in the comments!

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