Chastain: A Western Michigan loss would mean more now than ever
Think of the race in the Mid-American Conference West Division similar to a lottery ticket.
Maybe playing Club Keno or the Powerball, whichever game you prefer. I happen to be drawn by Club Keno. For Central Michigan, the conference scenario is much like a controlled chaos.
Coming off its 10-game opening stretch of the season, the longest in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Central Michigan needed three numbers to hit in order to find the West Division winning ticket.
Two of those numbers are in Central Michigan’s control – beating Ball State and Toledo – and one is out of the team’s control – Western Michigan losing.
Central Michigan (7-4, 5-2 MAC) hit the first of those three numbers by defeating Ball State, 45-44, Saturday on the road at Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Indiana.
Next, the Chippewas can hit the second number Nov. 29 in its season finale against Toledo at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Western Michigan losing is the one number that remains out of the Chippewas' control — that's where the chaos comes from.
At this point, with wins to end the season, the Broncos and Chippewas would end up tied in terms of record and, with Western Michigan’s 31-15 win in the rivalry on Sept. 28, the Broncos would advance to the MAC title game.
Are the Broncos the best representative for the West Division? It would difficult to argue against.
Quarterback Jon Wassink, running back Levante Bellamy, tight end Giovanni Ricci and wide receiver Skyy Moore have made an offensive impact for Western Michigan throughout the season. Safety Justin Tranquill has been a strong defensive force.
On the other hand, Central Michigan has a similar case with quarterback Quinten Dormady, running back Jonathan Ward, tight end Tony Poljan and wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton. Troy Brown is one of the leaders of a tough Chippewa defense.
Western Michigan has been similar to CMU this season away from home.
At this point, the Broncos are 1-4 on the road with the only victory coming in overtime on Nov. 12 against Ohio.
After losing on the road against Michigan State and Syracuse, the Broncos dropped a one-score game at Toledo then lost to Eastern Michigan on a deep pass from the Eagles’ Preston Hutchinson to Matthew Sexton.
As I see it, Chippewa fans are holding their respective and proverbial lottery tickets hoping that it culminates with a trip to Ford Field in Detroit. But without a Western Michigan loss to Northern Illinois on Nov. 26, the numbers on the tickets mean little to CMU fans.
This season has been an incredible turnaround for a team that was an embarrassment a year ago.
The fact that Central Michigan and its fans are even able to have the discussion of a MAC title is remarkable. Obviously, fans and the program want to cash in on those title hopes, and it starts with a Bronco loss.