COLUMN: What makes CMU/MSU meetings more than another game
While walking into the Central Michigan football team's practice on Wednesday morning, everything seemed normal.
The players were going through the same repetitions, head coach John Bonamego ended the practice with the players in the middle of the field as always, everything you would see at a normal Chippewa practice took place.
Off the field, however, there was one huge difference — the amount of media waiting for questions.
It’s Michigan State week. CMU takes on MSU at noon on Saturday, Sept. 29 in East Lansing.
Even if Bonamego doesn't consider it a rivalry, this game means something more. Bonamego and MSU head coach Mark Dantonio agreed this game has a significant history.
"It means a lot because there is history to this game,” Bonamego said.
It’s a history that stretches over 10 games, of which the Spartans have won seven. The contests began in 1991, with CMU winning back-to-back years before MSU got their first win in 1993. The Chippewas last win in the rivalry came in 2009. Since then, the Spartans have won three times with the last meeting in Bonamego’s first season with the program in 2015.
It’s two schools on complete different ends of the spectrum in college football. MSU (2-1) is a team with College Football Playoff aspirations and another loss would more than likely eliminate those hopes. CMU (1-3) on the other hand is a team coming off its first win of 2018 against an FCS school Maine and is still trying to find an offensive identity.
There’s pride on the line. Bonamego said this game matters to Michigan native players a little more. CMU’s roster is made up of roughly 70 percent Michigan natives.
Redshirt junior wide receiver Brandon Childress is one of those players. While he didn’t root for MSU, Michigan, CMU or any other school in the state growing up, his father is a Spartan fan.
“It’s not so much a rivalry as it is getting bragging rights for me,” Childress said.
It’s stories like Childress' that makes this game special, even if it isn’t considered an official rivalry.
Winning this game for CMU would bring recognition to the Mid-American Conference as it would be a win over a Power Five school. It would be another win over a nationally ranked opponent for the Chippewas.
Nearing the end of practice, Bonamego was asked about how he practices for the physicality MSU brings.
“I think we pride ourselves on being pretty physical ourselves,” he responded.
CMU doesn’t like to be thought of as the smaller school. Here's the Chippewas chance to prove themselves.