How the Chippewas can still win the MAC West

The CMU and NIU lines face off before a snap on Sat. Oct. 23, Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

After suffering a gut wrenching 39-38 loss to Northern Illinois, Central Michigan dropped its second Mid-American Conference contest with only four games remaining. 

The Chippewas, along with four other MAC West teams, are log-jammed at 2-2 while looking up at a surprisingly 4-0 NIU squad. 

While the road to Detroit may have become bleak for the Chippewas, there’s still a route to Ford Field in December. 

Here’s how the Chippewas can still win the MAC West Division.

Week 10: Western Michigan 

Time: 7 p.m.

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 3

Place: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, Mich. 

The Game

This will make or break the relevancy of this entire article.

The Conference’s biggest rivalry kicks off Wednesday night MACtion with incredibly high stakes. Both teams will enter the game at 2-2 in conference play and are coming off losses within the west division after the Broncos were dismantled in the second half by Toledo.

The key here is that a 6-2 record may just win the west division this year, meaning neither team can suffer a third conference loss. Add a bitter in-state rivalry to the equation and you have the biggest game of the season for both teams so far.

This game will be a shootout for the ages, and CMU quarterback Daniel Richardson shows the world that he is the man for the Chippewas going forward.

CMU 55 WMU 48

The Help 

Despite the win, the Chippewas need help. 

In this scenario, Kent State matches NIU’s fireworks in Dix Stadium to hand the Huskies their first conference loss. Eastern Michigan feasts off mistakes from Toledo’s Dequan Finn to claim a massive win in the Glass Bowl. 

Week 10 MAC results

Buffalo 34 Bowling Green 24 (Sat., Oct. 30)

Ball State 34 Akron 17

Miami (Ohio) 24 Ohio 17

EMU 24 Toledo 22

KSU 41 NIU 38

MAC West standings (conference record only):

NIU 4-1

Ball State 3-2

CMU 3-2

EMU 3-2

WMU 2-3

Toledo 2-3

Week 11: Kent State

Time: TBD

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 10

Place: Kelly/Shorts Stadium 

The Game

While this is a MAC West against MAC East clash, neither team can afford a loss, especially with Miami and the Golden Flashes tied at the top of the east. KSU’s high-powered offense garnered plenty of preseason attention as favorites to win the east. 

While the Golden Flashes are explosive, they won’t be able to match the physicality of CMU, coming off a season-defining win that sets the standard for the young squad. Lew Nichols III will have his signature game and the CMU pass rush will wreak havoc.

KSU will cause issues early, but the Chippewas find a way to clamp down in the second half and improve to 4-2 in MAC play. 

CMU 37 KSU 31

The Help

Ohio stuns EMU to push the Eagles to three losses in the MAC. Ball State fights valiantly, and quarterback Drew Plitt finds a way to knock off the Huskies in the game’s final minute.

Week 11 MAC results

Miami 27 Buffalo 20

Ohio 27 EMU 26

WMU 31 Akron 20

Toledo 30 BGSU 13

Ball State 34 NIU 31

MAC West standings:

Ball State 4-2

NIU 4-2

CMU 4-2

Toledo 3-3

WMU 3-3

EMU 3-3

Week 12: Ball State

Time: TBD

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 17

Place: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.

Riding high after a win at NIU and hosting their final two games of the regular season, the Cardinals look poised to win the west yet again. Balanced on both sides of the ball, BSU is a formidable foe for anyone in the conference.

But all it takes is one flat game from the Cardinals to watch their hopes fade to obscurity. With the scenario laid out in the previous paragraph, one bad finish could be game over for the  Cardinals.

That’s not happening without a tremendous 60-miniute Wednesday night slobber knocker. The WMU game is vital, but if this scenario still holds by week 12 then this game will be crucial in deciding the west.

In my preseason prediction I said that this game would be the one where CMU kicker Marshall Meeder becomes a hero. After the finish of the NIU game, this is where the kick team exercises its demons and wins this game as time expires. 

CMU 27 Ball State 26

The Help

After losing their last two, the Huskies make the 604-mile journey to face Buffalo. While the Huskies could normally handle the Bulls this season, UB coach Maurice Linguist will have this team ready for NIU's physicality. The Huskies pull out the win, but not without bumps and bruises along the way. 

Week 12 MAC results

Miami 27 BGSU 24

WMU 28 EMU 24

Toledo 27 Ohio 23

NIU 34 Buffalo 31

KSU 56 Akron 20

MAC West standings

NIU 5-2

CMU 5-2

Toledo 4-3

BSU 4-3

WMU 4-3

EMU 3-4

Week 13: EMU

Time: TBD

Date: Friday, Nov. 26

Place: Kelly/Shorts Stadium

Just like in 2019, The Chippewas are one game away from winning the MAC West. Last year’s matchup in Ypsilanti saw the Eagles jump ahead early only for CMU to pounce late and rally after Richardson exited with a high-ankle sprain.

The CMU quarterback lights up the Eagles for a dominant showing to send the Chippewas back to Ford Field.

The Help

In 2019, WMU was one win away from a MAC West title, only to suffer a home loss to NIU in the final game of the year. The roles have been reversed in 2021, and the Huskies will find out that karma has no expiration date. 

Week 13 MAC results

Ball State 31 Buffalo 26

WMU 31 NIU 30

Ohio 26 BGSU 24

Miami 37 Kent State 31

Toledo 38 Akron 28

Final MAC Standings


CMU 6-2

NIU 5-3

Toledo 5-3

Ball State 5-3

WMU 5-3

EMU 3-5


Miami (Ohio) 7-1

Kent State 5-3

Buffalo 4-4

Ohio 3-5

Akron 1-7

Bowling Green 0-8

Final verdict

It’s a longshot, but college football in 2021 is a year of pandemonium unseen since 2007. The MAC, per usual, is no exception to the madness. Another matchup with Miami for a MAC Title is a story that writes itself. 

CMU's road to Detroit stays alive if the first domino falls. That domino is a win in Kalamazoo. After that, let the chaos ensue.