It will be a busy holiday season for each of the Michigan FBS programs. Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan all qualified and will participate in bowl games.
No. 2 ranked Michigan (12-1) will play on Friday, Dec. 31 against No.2 Georgia (12-1) in the Orange Bowl being played at Miami Gardens. Michigan earned their place in the college football playoff for the first time in program history after back to back statement wins against Ohio State in the season finale and Iowa in the Big 10 title game. The playoff semifinal game is set to air on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.
No. 10 Michigan State (10-2) will face off with No. 12 Pittsburgh (who lost earlier in the season to visiting Western Michigan) in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. That game will be played Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7pm and will be aired on ESPN.
Western Michigan (7-5) will challenge Nevada at Ford Field in Detroit and have the benefit of the closest thing to a home game that a team can expect in a bowl game. Western Michigan had a disappointing stretch of games during the middle of the season before dominating MAC Champion, Northern Illinois, 42-21. Despite falling off high expectations and big wins early in the season, WMU will look to make one last statement against a solid Nevada program. The game kicks off early in the day on Monday, Dec. 27 at 11 am on ESPN.
Central Michigan (8-4), considered to be one of the top teams in the MAC after losing its only two conference games by a combined 12 points, will be participating in the Barstool Arizona Bowl. While Chippewa fans are excited to participate in the inaugural Barstool Bowl, many are also looking forward to the resurgent performance of Scott Stapp of Creed, reprising his infamous halftime escapades from a Thanksgiving feature in 2001z They will face the vaunted Boise State Broncos at 2 p.m. on New Years Eve and will be broadcast by Barstool Sports.
Eastern Michigan (7-5) will face Liberty on Saturday, Dec. 18, in the LendingTree Bowl. That game is set to kick off at 5:45 p.m. on ESPN.
Just one week ago, the Michigan State Spartans celebrated a dominant upset over in-state rival Michigan Wolverines. The effort netted the Spartans a Freshman Player of the Week Award and ignited hopes that things were heading in the right direction behind the arm of junior quarterback, Rocky Lombardi.
Week 3 buried those hopes under a mountain of points laid on the Spartans by the Iowa Hawkeyes who made quick work of the visiting squad and pummeled their way to a 49-7 drubbing.
While Lombardi looked excellent in week 2, he struggled in all facets on Saturday afternoon in Iowa. He completed just 46% of his passes and hurled 3 interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver, Jalen Nailor, provided a small bright spot with 4 catches and 119 yards receiving. The outing solidifies the evidence that MSU’s young receiving corp is worth watching.
Iowa dominated on the ground and enforced their will with 4 rushing touchdowns.
Things are likely going to be tough next week as the Spartans challenge an undefeated Indiana team that handled Michigan this afternoon.
Joe Milton topped 300 passing yards for a second straight week on just 18 completions and junior wide receiver Ronnie Bell pulled down 6 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, but the Michigan Wolverines lost their second in as many weeks. Indiana dominated from the opening and held off a late surge by the Wolverines at the end of the third quarter; grabbing two interceptions and closing the afternoon 38-21. The loss marked the first time the Wolverines have lost to Indiana since 1987.
While the #23 ranked Wolverines seemed poised for a strong year after a season opening victory against Minnesota, but have taken a beating in back to back weeks. While #13 Indiana sits at 3-0, the loss must be a tough pill to swallow for the Maize and Blue as they struggled against a Hoosier squad that has showed flashes in years past, but remained a perennial second tier Big 10 football program.
The victory may show that the Hoosiers are for real in 2020, but it may also display that Michigan is on track to have their most disappointing season in a string of seasons full of them.
The Wolverines will try to get things back on track with a signature win against #10 Wisconsin next week, a game likely circled on the schedule by many at the beginning of the season, but the prospects of that are looking less likely after recent struggles.
Ricky White (Marietta, GA) has been named Big 10 Freshman of the Week after setting a Michigan State freshman record with 196 receiving yards in the Spartans upset victory over Michigan.
The freshman averaged an astounding 24.5 yards per catch, which included a 30-yard touchdown reception, 50-yard reception that set up a Spartan field goal and a crucial 31-yard haul that gave MSU A first and goal and led to the game winning touchdown.
The last MSU freshman to win the honor was starting quarterback, Rocky Lombardi, in 2018.
MSU quarterback, Rocky Lombardi, delivered a stellar performance, culminating in 323 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a 27-24 victory for the visiting team over the Michigan Wolverines. MSU wide receiver, Ricky White, was Lombardi’s primary target, hauling in an astounding 196 yards on 8 catches (24.5 avg.) and one touchdown.
Michigan quarterback, Joe Milton, hurled an astounding 51 passes and reached 300 yards on the day. Milton also rushed for an additional 59 yards on 12 carries. Michigan’s scoring was all on the ground behind their team of running backs, Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum.
The loss follows an impressive Wolverine victory at Minnesota, which seemed to forecast a new day in Michigan football. MSU, conversely, came into the game after an embarrassing loss to Rutgers, who finished dead last at 0-9 in 2019 during conference play and appeared to show the complete collapse of a Spartan program just a few years removed from Big 10 prominence.
It is yet to be seen what Saturday means for both squads in the abbreviated 2020 conference schedule, but it throws a great deal of uncertainty into a year chalked full of it already.
Just two days after the Mid-American Conference announced it would forego fall sports and instead choose to reschedule games to the spring, the Big Ten Conference appears poised to cancel fall sports as well.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Big Ten has voted to cancel fall sports and most shockingly of all, Big Ten football. This comes on the heels of a statement from the Big Ten that seemed to offer some hope by allowing practice in helmets for the time being, though the release left future developments shrouded in some uncertainty.
While the move may not seem entirely surprising giving the current climate surrounding Covid-19 responses, momentum seemed to be heading in the other direction with marquee players such as Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and others starting a hashtag campaign making their desire to play this fall clear.
Unlike smaller conferences, such as the MAC, which may benefit players having the opportunity to showcase their talent nearer to the NFL draft next spring, it seems that such a move by Power 5 schools will most certainly mean that top tier NFL talent will forego any rescheduled timetable. First round locks, such as Fields and Lawrence, appeared primed for at least one more run as college stars and instead will likely miss their final amateur seasons.
This story is still developing and we will keep you updated on any news as it breaks.
The Mid-American conference and its three Michigan member schools (Central, Eastern & Western) have announced that fall sports will be cancelled this fall and rescheduled to the spring.
The move comes just days after it was announced that Western University would maintain its lucrative matchup with Notre Dame. However, with most member schools losing their Power 5 contests and budget constraints put on programs playing games without fans, the MAC decided it would be best to postpone and hope for better opportunities to play in the spring.
While larger conferences benefit from tv deals, larger brand sponsorships, apparel sales, etc. the Mid-American conference, and football specifically, require a combination of Power 5 windfalls and fans in the stands to recoup costs of running programs.
We will provide updates as we become aware of any developing details. We now wait to see if this creates a cascade into other conferences and programs or if Notre Dame will have time to find a new opponent without casting another wave into schedules across the country.
UPDATE: All Mid-American Conference fall athletics have been postponed to spring and WMU’s game versus Notre Dame has been canceled. – Aug. 8, 2020
Notre Dame agreed to terms with the ACC to compete in conference play this season, but will maintain its non-conference game with the visiting Broncos of Western Michigan University. The game is set to be played on September 19 and will generate much needed funds for the Mid-American Conference squad and their athletic department.
The Broncos will be looking to play spoiler to the College Football Playoff hopeful, Fighting Irish, as they rake in the spoils of the marquee matchup of their schedule to the tune of 1.175 million dollars.
The game will provide WMU with funds sure to be in short supply in the 2020-2021 athletic calendar and an even more profitable marketing stage for the university. The Fighting Irish are sure to make the benefits of the matchup a tough pill to swallow between the uprights, as they return a promising Heisman candidate in senior quarterback, Ian Book.
Notre Dame (11-2 in 2019) opens their season against Duke University (5-7 in 2019) and Western Michigan (7-6 in 2019) looks to take a big first step in their Week 2 matchup against Cincinnati (11-3 in 2019) after losing two separate opponents in their Week 1 slot from conference cancellations.
The Mid-American Conference Football Championship at Ford Field was full #MACtion on Saturday afternoon in Detroit. The Miami Redhawks came into the game with a 7-5 record after winning the MAC East Division despite being picked to finish third in the west by the pre-season coach’s poll.
Central Michigan’s path to the championship game was even more improbable as the Chippewas were picked to finish dead last in the overall conference pre-season poll, but clawed their way into the final with a 8-4 record.
NCAA Division 1 football often lacks the parity seen in other college athletics that often makes events like March Madness a draw for it’s unpredictability and underdog stories.
Football is a different animal. The underdog rarely wins. The college football playoff has seen only ten different schools represented in the five years since its inception. That is what made this year so special for the MAC conference. Parity abounded.
Ohio University and Toledo were picked to be the teams representing their respective divisions in the MAC conference championship game in the coach’s preseason poll. Toledo came in last in the West Division and Ohio, the far and away favorite to win the conference in August, only outpaced two teams in their division by December.
So what else could we expect to cap off the season than a tightly contested game that ebbed and flowed without providing any indication who would come out on top until the very last second ran off the clock and a Hail Mary attempt fell to the ground?
The game featured a 98-yard kickoff return that came just a yard short of a touchdown on the very first play of the game, a fake punt attempt deep in CMU’s own territory, a 48-yard booming field goal by Kicker of the Year candidate Sam Sloman and an onside kick that was ran in for the likely game-winning touchdown, only to be called back for an offside penalty.
Fans of both teams were treated to college football at its absolute best as CMU and Miami provided spectators hope that their team would be crowned champions even in the final moments as the ball hung in the air as outstretched arms desperately clawed to bring it in.
The game started in a hurry as Miami returner, Maurice Thomas, took possession of the kickoff at the Miami 1-yard line and proceeded to streak down the sideline with a wall of blockers ahead of him before cutting across the field and being brought down just a yard short of the end zone. The 98-yard kickoff return started Miami off with an early opportunity that they would capitalize on with running back Jaylon Bester leaping into the end zone for the first points of the game. Miami Kicker Sam Sloman booted the extra point and CMU found themselves down 7-0 just over a minute into the contest.
Both teams traded short-lived drives the rest of the quarter and Miami took a 7-0 lead into the second.
CMU opened the second quarter continuing their drive and was able to move the ball through a combination of their two quarterbacks, Tommy Lazzaro and Quinten Dormady, near the Miami Redzone. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 21, Lazzaro ran the option from shotgun and busted around the left side of the line and in for the Chippewa touchdown. Ryan Tice’s extra point kick tied things up 7-7 with 11:46 remaining in the half.
The next two drives stalled out and CMU was forced to punt on 4th and 6 from their own 19-yard line. In a move that surely surprised all in attendance, CMU elected to run a fake punt and snapped it to one of the punt protectors who attempted to catch the Miami punt team sleeping. The play was unsuccessful as Oakley Lavallii was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. CMU’s defense took the field for the second time with their backs against the wall, but managed to hold Miami to a three and out and force the Miami field goal attempt.
Sam Loman lined up and kicked a 41-yard field goal that soared through the uprights with relative ease and gave Miami a 10-7 lead.
Miami and CMU traded possessions once again before CMU took the ball at 2:57 for what became the last drive of the half. Dormady was sacked on first down by Andrew Sharp, but came back on second with a much needed 24-yard pass to JaCorey Sullivan. This took the Chippewas to the Miami 23-yard line. CMU would manage to get themselves into a third and five situation with 1:01 left in the half.
CMU elected to run with Kalil Pimpleton for a gain of 7 yards, which gave the Chippewas a fresh set of downs inside the redone and with time waning in the half. CMU called timeout on third and ten with 36 seconds left in the half from the Miami 11. Dormady alluded pressure and rolled right out of the pocket where he found Tyrone Scott for the 11-yard touchdown catch. Tice buried the extra point and gave the Chippewas the final points of the half, leading Miami 14-10.
CMU’s first drive of the second half was stalled after 4 plays and a punt. Miami freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert took the Redhawks on a fast and furious drive completing passes of 35 yards to James Maye and 31 yards to Jack Soreneson with Sorenson’s catch delivering Miami their second touchdown of the game and a 17-14 lead.
Much like the first quarter, both teams managed to find their groove and a quarter that begin in a fury ended with several drives ending without points.
The fourth quarter opened with Miami driving again before stalling out at the Chippewa 15 yard line. Sloman came in again and easily knocked through the 33 yard kick for a 20-14 Redhawk lead.
CMU’s next drive began with several solid plays as Dormady competed a 9 yard pass to Da’Quaun Jamison and Lazzaro hit Tony Poljan for 24-yards. The completion brought the Chippewas into Redhawk territory and after a roughing the passer penalty on the ensuing play, the Chippewas found themselves at the Redhawk 27-yard line and a chance at taking the lead.
There would be no such occasion, however, as Dormady’s next pass was intercepted by Miami defensive back Travion Banks and ran back for a touchdown, before being called back on an illegal block in the back penalty. Nevertheless, the play stifled CMU’s first comeback attempt. Gabbert got to work again, hitting Sorenson on three times on the drive. CMU held the Redhawks to a 4th and 4 at the CMU 30 when Sloman came on the field to attempt a 48-yard field goal. CMU’s best hope was a miss that would keep the game at just a 6 point differential. Sloman left little doubt that there would be such a chance.
The kicker delivered a strike and gave the Redhawks a 9-point lead at 23-14 with 4:06 left in the 4th quarter.
CMU was not done fighting. They started their drive at their own 20 yard line and proceeded to drive with speed and efficiency down the field before finally driving in for a rushing touchdown behind a diving Lazzaro. Tice’s kick made the game 23-21 with 1:24 on the clock.
CMU attempted the onside kick, which was caught off a bounce by the kicking team’s Rolliann Sturkey and ran all the way in for a score to the screams of a crowded Ford Field before being called off for an offside penalty. Another off-side penalty would be declined on the second attempt and Miami took possession at the CMU 30-yard line. CMU had one chance to get the ball back: do not give up a first down. The Chippewas did what they had to do and forced the Redhawks to kick a field goal on 4th and 4. Sloman booted yet another field goal, this time from 42 yards away.
The ensuing kickoff was sent through the end zone for a touchback and CMU took the ball at their own 25-yard line with just 28 seconds to go in the game. CMU managed to drive the ball 20 yards and stop the clock with just 6-seconds to play. Dormady rolled right as CMU receivers ran towards the end zone in a pack. Dormady heaved the ball as high and far as he could. The ball hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity and came down into the outstretched arms of both Redhawk defenders and CMU receivers before falling to the ground. Incomplete.
Miami players rushed the field in jubilation after securing the 26-21 Mid-American Conference championship.
CMU’s improbable run felt just as incomplete as the Hail Mary attempt. After a season defying the odds and rising from the bottom of the MAC conference standings, they found themselves just short of making their story complete. Both teams played their hearts out and it is only a shame that one team had to lose.
CMU’s season is not finished, however, as they move on to play in the New Mexico Bowl against San Diego State. Miami is also going bowling as they will face off against Louisiana in the Lending Tree Bowl.
Congratulations to both teams on stellar seasons.
Players of the Game: Offense – Jack Sorenson (WR) Defense – Emmanuel Rugamba (DB) Special Teams – Sam Sloman (K)