Nov. 3, 2017
Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Party’s over. Back to work.
Conventional wisdom dictates that one measure – a major measure -- of a football program is in how it performs in a rivalry game.
Check that box for Central Michigan in 2017: the Chippewas overcame a two-touchdown deficit with three fourth-quarter scores in topping Western Michigan, 35-28, at the Broncos’ Waldo Stadium on Wednesday night.
There is also a growing school of thought that a program can also be measured by how it performs in the game immediately following the game.
That test for CMU comes on Wednesday, Nov. 8, when it entertains Eastern Michigan in a Mid-American Conference game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium (8 p.m. ESPNU, WUPS-FM 98.5).
“We need to quickly, as in this morning, turn the page and start setting our sights on the next one,” CMU coach John Bonamego said on Thursday. “The maturity of your team is what’s going to be tested. If you have an immature team that can’t handle success you won’t be prepared.
“You cannot live in the past. You have to put that one behind you. Good and bad, you treat them both the same. You can re-hash the news clippings after the season if you want to re-live some glory days. Last week’s performance isn’t going to do anything to help us this week. We really truly have to put that one to bed and move forward.”
The win over Western lifted the Chippewas to 5-4 overall, 3-2 MAC. A win over Eastern would make CMU bowl eligible and it would keep alive the Chippewas’ hopes of winning the MAC West -- as slim as that hope may realistically be.
With three league games remaining, CMU trails West-leading Toledo by two games. The Rockets improved to 5-0 in conference play with a 27-17 win over Northern Illinois on Thursday.
CMU will face an Eastern Michigan team that has suffered perhaps as much heartbreak as any team in the country.
The Eagles are 3-6, 1-4 after winning their first MAC game, 56-14, over Ball State on Thursday.
That win snapped a six-game losing streak. Three of those losses came in overtime and another came by one point, to Army, when the Eagles were stopped on a two-point conversion attempt with under a minute to play.
The Chippewas fell to the Eagles, 26-21, last season in Ypsilanti.
“They’re a very good football team, they’re talented, they play hard,” Bonamego said. “They’ve really stayed the course through a rough season.”
The Next Trophy
The win over Western gave the Chippewas the Victory Cannon, which resides in the trophy case of the winner of the annual game between CMU and the Broncos.
CMU now sets its sights on the Michigan MAC Trophy, which goes to the team that fares the best in the annual three-team battle between CMU, Western and Eastern.
A win over the Eagles would give the Chippewas the Michigan MAC Trophy because they would be 2-0 against their two in-state rivals.
Western defeated Eastern, 20-17, in overtime this season. If Eastern beats the Chippewas, Western would retain the Michigan MAC Trophy because all three schools would be 1-1 against each other.
The Michigan MAC Trophy began in 2005 and each of the three schools has won it (or retained it) four times. CMU last held it in 2013.