Bringing energy: Having fun on Central Michigan's sideline translates to winning
Following a touchdown run from senior quarterback Tommy Lazzaro, House of Pain's hit song "Jump Around" bellowed from the speakers at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The song is popularly played at the end of the third quarter at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium, a place Central Michigan visited on Sept. 7.
When the song played this time, the Chippewas were dancing on the sideline and having fun on the bench after taking a 21-0 lead over Toledo in the teams' Nov. 29 game in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
A little later on, after junior running back Kobe Lewis gave his team a 42-7 lead over the Rockets in the third quarter, Central Michigan's marching band, The Marching Chips, played "Hail Chippewa."
CMU's kickoff team was jumping and dancing around to the tune before defending the ensuing kickoff.
These are just two examples of how the Chippewas (8-4, 6-2) used fun energy to secure a 49-7 win over Toledo and claim the Mid-American Conference West Division.
In doing so, the Chippewas will make their first appearance in the MAC championship game since 2009.
"I think our guys are starting to believe," said first-year coach Jim McElwain. "There were times this year that I don't think they were sure. I think they're starting to realize how to be great. It's okay to be great and it's okay to be excited for your teammates."
Senior linebacker Michael Oliver is one of the leaders of the team as one of the anchors on the defensive side of the ball. Against the Rockets, he led the team with eight total tackles.
Oliver said his team's energy was a product of their performance, and it was well deserved.
"We were confident," Oliver said. "We were confident in what we could do and what we're capable of doing. We just need to keep doing what we do and execute and not let a team come in and disrupt what we do. We were just having fun and doing what we do best – winning games."
Another senior who has taken leadership for the Chippewas this season is running back Jonathan Ward.
Ward eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with his 88 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. He said Kelly/Shorts Stadium and its crowd helps create the energy. On another note, the Chippewas were 6-0 at home this season.
"Every home game I feel as if you have to have energy from the home crowd," Ward said. "That's what we want Kelly/Shorts to be about, to be full of energy to motivate the players, the coaches and the fans and we'd love to achieve our goals."
Central Michigan heads to face Miami (Ohio) at noon Dec. 7 at Ford Field in Detroit in the MAC championship game.
Of course, the Chippewas plan to bring plenty of energy to the table.