Seniors desire first career postseason win in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl


Senior defensive lineman Joe Ostman, left, and senior quarterback Shane Morris, right,  pose for a portrait on Dec. 14 at the Indoor Athletic Complex. 

Central Michigan football has not won a bowl game since 2012, and head coach John Bonamego is making it a priority to win it for the veterans. 

“We want to send the seniors out and let them finish their careers with a bowl win,” Bonamego said. “It would really put an exclamation point on their careers.” 

In 2012, CMU defeated Western Kentucky, 24-21, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Since then, the Chippewas hired Bonamego and have lost two bowl games – the 2015 Quick Lane Bowl and 2016 Miami Beach Bowl.

The 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22 against Wyoming is a chance at redemption. 

Even though senior quarterback Shane Morris has not been around Mount Pleasant his entire career, he is still gunning to earn a victory for his fellow seniors.  

“Since (the seniors) haven’t won a bowl game, there a little bit extra going into it," Morris said, "every time we go on the field, our goal is to win.” 

Morris, who transferred from the University of Michigan to CMU in January, completed 226-of-407 passes for 2,908 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the 2017 season. He helped spark a comeback victory over rival Western Michigan. 

As a true freshman for Michigan in 2013, Morris made his first collegiate start in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State, as regular starter Devin Gardner was out with a turf toe injury. Morris completed 24-of-38 passes for 196 yards and one interception in his only bowl game appearance. 

“It’s an awesome experience to play in bowl games,” Morris said. “Being the established starter now and being the guy who helped lead the team to the bowl game is awesome. In 2013, I felt comfortable even though we lost. It was good to get that experience.”

Senior captain and defensive end Joe Ostman has posted 12.0 sacks during the season, along with an NCAA-high 1.20 sacks per game. 

“It would be huge for us (seniors),” Ostman said. “We haven’t won a bowl game since 2012, so it’s going to be a big game for us and we are excited about the opportunity. We feel like we are in a great place as a team and are just excited to go out there and get the win this year.” 

During this year’s campaign, CMU’s defense logged 12 fumble recoveries and 19 interceptions for an NCAA leading 31 takeaways. Senior defensive back Josh Cox led the way with six interceptions.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl means “everything” to Cox, as it will be his last game for CMU. 

“We want to go out on a high note,” Cox said. “For the last four years, I’ve seen the seniors go out on a low note. It sucks, but it happens so everyone below can learn a lesson. We’ve been through the trials and tribulations, so I definitely want to get some ice on my finger.”

Between Morris, Ostman, and Cox, the trio has played a huge role in helping CMU to an 8-4 overall and 6-2 Mid-American Conference record, good for second place in the MAC West Divison. 

“I’m very proud of them,” Bonamego said, regarding the senior class. “I really like how they’ve embraced the leadership role and how they’ve led. Leadership is something that’s not easy. We spend a lot of time talking about it, but talking and doing are two different things. 

“Doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily make you a leader, it makes you a person who is doing the right thing. Leaders have to be vocal. They have to encourage and demand. In order to do that, you also have to be a good example and develop relationships based on respect. This group has done an excellent job of that.”