Best and worst of CMU-WMU rivalry's last decade


Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward signals during the game vs Western Michigan on Nov. 1 at Waldo Stadium. 

When Central Michigan and Western Michigan meet, there are traditionally high stakes. In 2021, this is no different as both are playing for their respective conference title hopes. 

Both teams have two Mid-American Conference losses and can't afford a third. Meeting this year at WMU's Waldo Stadium, the squads will lay everything on the line. 

This game, with these stakes, has produced some thrilling chapters over its 77 installments. All time, WMU holds a 39-37-1 advantage over the Chippewas and has won the last three. While waiting to see what this rendition has in store, revisit some of the best and worst of CMU's last decade against its bitter rival. 

Best win: Nov. 1, 2017 (35-28) 

The last time CMU had lost three in a row within this rivalry, it righted the ship on a magical, rainy night in Kalamazoo. The Broncos opened a 14-0 lead with a pair of rushing touchdowns, but the Chippewas worked their way back ever so slightly. 

WMU maintained its 14-point advantage through the third quarter, leading 28-14 heading into the fourth. CMU running back Jonathan Ward made it a one-score game with a 29-yard touchdown early in the fourth. Quarterback Shane Morris hit Eric Cooper for a nine-yard score to tie the game with 5:50 remaining. 

After stopping the Broncos offense, the Chippewas got the ball with less than three minutes remaining. Corey Willis, wearing No. 21 in honor of deceased teammate Derrick Nash, caught a pass from Morris and raced 77 yards to the end zone. After forcing a turnover on downs, CMU and coach John Bonamego emerged victorious. 

Worst loss: Oct. 1, 2016 (49-10)

The buildup to this game made it one of the highest anticipated matchups between the two schools in history. WMU came in 4-0, while CMU was 3-1 with just a loss to Virginia. The winner of this one would be considered the favorite for the MAC title. 

This was true, but not in the way CMU hoped. The Broncos, who would go on to have a season for the ages, demolished the Chippewas in primetime in front of 30,411 fans at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

Quarterback Cooper Rush threw for 178 yards and was sacked eight times. Meanwhile, the Broncos ran for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Corey Davis, brother of CMU's Titus, scored two touchdowns.

Best individual performance: Jonathan Ward (Nov. 1, 2017)

The Chippewas' last win over WMU will be remembered in large part for the game-winning toss from Morris to Willis, but Ward was key to the team's comeback. 

A sophomore at the time, Ward burst onto the scene with 213 all-purpose yards, including 132 on the ground. He scored his only touchdown on a 29-yard scamper to cut the deficit to just seven points. The score came one play after his 14-yard catch. 

After forcing a WMU punt, Ward kicked off the game-tying drive with a 35-yard run. 

He also contributed to putting the game away with two first down runs on the game's final possession. Ward would go on to be named a second-team All-MAC selection following the season.