#17 Western Michigan Continues Dream Season With 29-23 MAC Championship Game Win Over Ohio

Playing on a national stage in the MAC title game with the CFP committee almost forced to watch, the Western Michigan Broncos didn’t impress many in a 29-23 win over the Ohio Bobcats. The win gave WMU the overall MAC championship for the first time since 1988.

WMU won the game and are now sitting at 13-0 as the only G5 team and only one of two undefeated teams left in the FBS (hi Alabama), a performance like this does leave the door open a bit for the committee to do something weird and move a two-loss Navy ahead of them. While that is possible, it would be a very disappointing decision for a group of individuals that seem to know little to nothing about the Group of Five.

The Broncos jumped out quickly with scoring drives in three of their first four possessions. They looked like the better team, but had to settle for field goal attempts on all three occasions to take a 9-0 lead. That left the door open enough for Papi White and company to drive 72 yards in four plays to pull within two points at the 8:08 mark of the second quarter.

Like a championship caliber team, WMU responded with two late scoring drives to end the half with a seemingly dominant 23-7 lead.

With a 16 point lead to start the second half, all the Broncos had to do was keep from shooting themselves in the foot. That could not be accomplished as quarterback Zach Terrell was picked off with Ohio returning the ball to the five-yard line. One play later, the Bobcats were right back in the game on a Greg Windham to Jordan Reid touchdown pass to pull within nine at 23-14.

Again, missed opportunities to put away the game bit the Broncos as a 43-yard punt return gave them the ball at the Ohio 21-yard line, but they had to settle for another field goal. With as many weapons as the Broncos have on offense, four trips deep in Ohio territory with only 12 points to show was unacceptable.

The Bobcats quickly made WMU pay as they rolled 81 yards in only five plays with White catching a pass and racing 31 yards for a score. That score pulled Ohio within a touchdown at 26-20 for the first time since the opening quarter.

Ohio even had a chance to take their first lead of the game with a first and ten on the WMU 19-yard line. They were stuffed on three straight plays by a motivated WMU defense and had to settle for a 37-yard field goal to pull within 26-23.

After adding a field goal of their own to extend their lead to 29-23, WMU had more work to do on defense. Ohio moved the ball to the WMU 37-yard line with just under a minute left in the game. The Broncos needed that one game changing play to keep their dream season alive and arguably their best defensive player came up with another amazing play. Linebacker Robert Spillane was able to pick off the Ohio pass and kneel to the ground, allowing WMU to run out the clock and slip away with a 29-23 win over Ohio.

While WMU did not play up to their potential, credit has to go to Frank Solich and company at Ohio. They muddied up the game and continued to stick with their game plan and had a chance in the end. For a huge underdog that many expected to get destroyed in the title game, this was an excellent performance.

We need to talk about the elephant in the room: the CFP rankings. The previous week of rankings set up a scenario for Navy to leap over WMU if they win the AAC. No one is saying that will or won’t happen for sure, but the possibility is now open. I believe that WMU will stay one spot in front of Navy, but WMU better go ahead and root for Temple in the AAC title game to be safe.

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