Football aims to avoid 'letdown' game at Kent State
Riding a three-game win streak and winning back-to-back trophies has put Central Michigan football in the hunt to compete for a Mid-American Conference Championship.
While it remains unlikely Toledo and Northern Illinois — the top two teams in the MAC West Division — lose out, the Chippewas (6-4, 4-2 MAC) have come a long way from their 2-3 start to the season.
CMU finishes the regular season against NIU at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, but must first travel to Kent, Ohio for a date with Kent State on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPNU.
The Chippewas became bowl eligible with their win against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 8. It was the sixth year in a row and 10th time in the last 12 years. A win over KSU would guarentee a bowl birth for CMU.
Avoiding a Letdown
The Golden Flashes have suffered a miserable season so far — compiling a 2-8 record and 1-5 in MAC play. However, CMU head coach John Bonamego remembers last season when KSU stunned the Chippewas in Mount Pleasant on a last second field goal.
Bonamego said the team’s focus this week is to avoid a letdown before the showdown with NIU.
“I was worried about a letdown (against EMU) because of the emotions that were involved in the Western (Michigan) game,” he said. “How it ended and everything. That’s our challenge as coaches and to the leadership to this team. We are still relevant in the MAC title race. We just want to keep playing well.”
Bonamego and KSU head coach Paul Haynes have a history together. The two were both assistant coaches under Tom Coughlin with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001 and have remained close friends since.
Bonamego said he has a “tremendous” amount of respect for Haynes and his program.
“Their defense is always tough,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many guys they graduate or who sits or who is injured. It’s always tough to move the ball on them.”
CMU has a stingy defense of its own as the unit enters Tuesday’s game leading the nation with 27 turnovers. The Chippewas forced five of their 16 interceptions last week in their win over Eastern Michigan and have 11 forced fumbles on the season.
Junior defensive end Mitch Stanitzek said the defense aimed to get 21 turnovers before the season and takes pride in leading the country through 10 games.
The defense has been without star senior defensive end Joe Ostman the last two games. Bonamego said Ostman first battled a concussion, but now is dealing with a “stinger” in his upper body. The third-year head coach said Ostman is currently day-to-day and will be a game time decision Tuesday.
Ostman led the country with 10 sacks before getting injured. Stanitzek said the rest of the defensive line has stepped up its game in his absence, but they are eager for their captain to return.
“We have to make up for a lot of the slack. He makes a huge impact,” Stanitzek said. “We have to increase our workload and just trying to get after it like we do every game.
“Everybody has to be doing their part. Defensive line, linebackers and secondary all have to do their job."