CM-Life talks with UW student media, The Branding Iron, about Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, quarterback Josh Allen

Senior wide receiver Corey Willis scores the winning touchdown during the football game against Northern Illinois University on Nov. 24 at Kelly Shorts Stadium.

The weeks are turning to days until the Central Michigan Chippewas (8-4, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) take the field for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Wyoming (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West Conference).

Central Michigan Life spoke with the Branding Iron — UW's student-run newspaper.

Joel Moline is Sports Editor for the Branding Iron and covers the UW football team. He is a Laramie, Wyoming native.

Here are some of Moline’s thoughts on the UW football team and the upcoming bowl game.

There have been a lot of ups and downs when it comes to winning throughout the season for UW, what is the story of this season for them?

Moline: There were some pretty high expectations with (quarterback) Josh Allen and all of the hype around him. But the offense just never matched up to the caliber of last year. They had four guys go to the NFL level and lost a lot of talent on offense but the defense returned a lot of guys and was a strength.

Iowa and Oregon were a couple of early losses, but things were pretty smooth for awhile after that until Allen went down. UW lost to Fresno State and San Jose State when Allen didn't play. Inconsistent offense has been the biggest thing (that) lead to some losses.

With those losses at the end the season, what would a win in this bowl game mean to UW?

It’s a chance to get another eight-win season and keep moving the program forward. A couple of years ago they went 2-10. Last year they went 8-4, with a chance to win the conference title. Now it’s the first time in 20 years UW has went to back-to-back bowl games. It would just give the program more confidence moving into the off-season this year.

When the bowl game was announced against CMU, what was the feeling around the team. How do they matchup with the Chippewas?

I think they feel like it’s a chance to play against a quality team that had a good year. They know it won’t be an easy task. It’s a chance to prove themselves and keep moving forward with the program.

Both teams have defenses that create turnovers, which should matchup well. The quarterback play between Allen and (Shane Morris) should dictate the outcome of this game. If Allen is going to play or not makes a world of difference.

Does it seem like things are pointing more towards Allen playing? 

Well, against Air Force he injured his throwing shoulder. It’s just been one of those things that has bugged him when he tries to throw. In a press conference earlier this week, Allen said he feels he’s at 90 percent and will only play if he’s at 100 percent. It’s the question everyone is having but I think it is moving forward like he will play right now but we just don’t know yet.

How good is Allen?

Josh Allen is just one of those guys that always gives you the chance to win when he’s on the field. That’s the best way to describe him. He has the talent level but also the drive to win. He can throw, but I’ve also seen him scramble and break tackles to make plays.The arm power he possesses is amazing. He has the ability to do almost anything from the quarterback position.

What other strengths does UW have?

Defense. The defense is top in the nation in turnover difference. Against New Mexico they forced seven turnovers in a game, with six of them coming in one quarter. 

They have a really good defensive end in Carl Granderson, who has been on All-Conference teams and can rush the passer very well. The linebacking core is solid, but the secondary sticks out because most of them have played together the past two or three years. Andrew Wingard is a free safety to watch out for. (He) is the team's best tackler and will be all over the field. He was a freshman All-American two years ago.

What are some of your observations about CMU’s football team? What do you think UW will have to watch out for?

(Morris) seems to be similar to Allen in some ways. He can move pretty well with a good arm and make plays in the spread offense they run. UW needs to be able to contain the quarterback not only through the air but on the ground, especially with the numbers from (Jonathan Ward) going up in recent games. (They need) to not be a one-sided offense.

For UW on offense, they can’t make mistakes. From what I’ve seen, CMU takes advantage of those errors. Establishing a run game will be key since CMU has struggled against it at times this season, so it would take pressure off Allen’s shoulders. 

What are your thoughts on the game? Who is going to win?

If Allen plays, I like UW’s chances a little bit more. With him back there the offense becomes more deadly. If (quarterback) Nick Smith plays, I think UW still has a chance. It will force them to run a lot more and the defense will have to play to a higher level than they have all year.

I think it's going to a low scoring, 20-14 type affair. It comes down to which offense can make the least amount of mistakes. If Allen plays, I like UW.