Football feels confident in preparation for Wyoming in Idaho Potato Bowl


Senior defensive lineman Joe Ostman talks to the media during the football conference on Dec. 3 at the Indoor Athletic Center. 

For the ninth time in the last 12 years, the Central Michigan football team is going bowling.

This time, the Chippewas take on Wyoming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Under head coach John Bonamego, CMU has now been to three straight bowl games. 

However, the Chippewas hope for a different result this time around. 

In his first season with CMU, Bonamego led his team to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit where they lost to Minnesota 24-21. Last season, CMU received an invite to the Miami Beach Bowl where the team was blown out by Tulsa, 55-10.

Would that change how CMU is going to prepare for another test against the Cowboys?

Not necessarily. 

Preparation is always different for every bowl game, according to Bonamego, but this one starts with the game plan and preparing for star Cowboy's quarterback Josh Allen.

“We have to find out how to stop a guy like (Josh Allen) first off,” Bonamego said. “Then it’s about finding a way to score on their defense. I think were confident and have to look at Wyoming and find out what the challenges will be for us.”

Football Head Coach John Bonamego walks towards reporters after football practice on Oct. 18 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

One different feature that Bonamego will need to have his players ready for this season compared to the past is the weather conditions.

Playing in a dome in Detroit and in warm temperatures in Miami before, this time around the weather is traditionally chilly in Idaho and could present weather elements that affect the game.

Bonamego said being a team from Michigan will probably aid them to an advantage that maybe they didn’t have in past bowl games.

“Being from the midwest in a state like Michigan will have us about as prepared as anyone,” Bonamego said. “I haven't looked at the weather for Boise but I would imagine it is similar to here.”

From a playing stand point, transfer quarterback Shane Morris said he prefers to throw the ball in colder conditions and “football is football” no matter where it is played.

“The cold makes the ball a little bit tackier,” Morris said. “It sticks to my fingers a little bit better. I’ve always liked it though, it gives that playoff feel and important games are played in the cold in Michigan and I’ve been in it my whole life.”

This will be Morris’ second start as a quarterback for a bowl game, his first coming with Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl where the Wolverines lost 31-14 to Kansas State.

That game was Morris’ first start of his collegiate career.

This start will be Morris’ 13th start for CMU and the final of his career. Morris said this one feels a little different. 

“(In 2013) that was truly my first experience as a college quarterback and while we lost, I still felt comfortable out there,” Morris said. “Now I’m excited to go out and play a great Wyoming team kind of being the guy all year for us at quarterback.”

Senior quarterback Shane Morris is tackled following a pass during the game against Northern Illinois University on Nov. 24 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Morris said the main difference in preparing for a bowl game compared to a regular season game is all of the time the team gets to prepare.

“Our coaches will do a great job of getting us prepared and all this time gives us a better opportunity to get to know our opponent,” Morris said. “We will learn the in’s and out’s of their defense and I’m excited to get this long to game plan a team.”

Senior defensive end Joe Ostman, who’s played in a bowl game in all four seasons he’s been with the Chippewas, said the preparation starts with regrouping as a unit.

“I think we all try to come together and start to prepare,” Ostman said. “We will start to look more at Wyoming and as the game gets closer it should start to feel more like preparing for a normal game week.”

Ostman said outside of just getting ready for the game itself, he thinks the experience you get from going to these different places can go a long way as well.

“I’ve been to a lot of different bowl games and we are very lucky to be in the position like we have been for the past four years,” Ostman said. “Going to Miami, the Bahamas and Detroit we’ve experienced some tropical weather and some colder weather but we haven’t been out west so this should be another great experience for us.”

Before the season began on Mid-American Conference Media Day, Ostman said the loss to Tulsa in Miami really stung this senior class and gave them motivation for this season.

After winning five straight games to end the regular season and with now a chance for a ninth win, Ostman said the seniors want nothing more than to go out winning.

“It would be huge for us, we haven’t won a bowl game in five years,” Ostman said. “This is a big test for us and this time we want to go out there and get the win.”