Preview: CMU football takes on WMU with two trophies at stake

Central Michigan redshirt sophomore quarterback Jase Bauer rushes the ball during a game against Northern Illinois, Tuesday, Oct. 31 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Bauer rushed 106 yards. (Marie Underwood | CM-Life)

Last year, Western Michigan came into Kelly Shorts Stadium and handed Central Michigan football a 12-10 loss on its home field.

Now in their 95th meeting with two trophies on the line, the Chippewas head to enemy territory on Tuesday looking for revenge. 

“It's a special week when you play a rivalry game,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “And the energy in the building, just knowing all the things at stake (and) in this case ... playing actually for two trophies, not just the cannon, so it's an exciting week.”

Not only is the annual Victory Cannon Trophy in play, but CMU is also playing for the Michigan Mid-American Conference trophy and to keep its MAC Championship hopes alive. 

Also, if the Chippewas come out victorious against the Broncos, they will become bowl eligible. 

“I told them, ‘be excited that you're in a position to make a run here in November,’” McElwain said. “And you know, doesn't mean you have to add any more pressure, it just means you got to be more detailed in, and let's make sure we're doing a great job at everything.” 

One thing standing in CMU’s way is injuries. In the last three games, the Chippewas have lost three key starters including linebacker Kyle Moretti, defensive back Donte Kent and running back Myles Bailey. 

McElwain said that Moretti is doubtful to play while Bailey and Kent are still questionable but have been able to participate in practice. 

“I'm certainly not going to put anybody out there that, you know, isn't able to give it everything,” McElwain said. 

Meet the opponent 

WMU comes into the matchup 3-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play. 

The Broncos are coming off a 45-21 road victory over Eastern Michigan, putting the Michigan MAC trophy up for grabs on Tuesday. 

One reason for the win was redshirt freshman running back Jalen Buckley who rushed for 138 yards and found the end zone twice. 

Throughout the season, Buckley has shown he can be explosive. He has had three games with over 100 yards rushing, totaling 775 yards on the season with seven touchdowns. 

Coming into this game, the Broncos lead in the overall series taking the 40-52-2 advantage over CMU. 

Key to victory: Find a way to win on the road

While having a perfect record at home, the Chippewas have struggled on the road. CMU is 1-4 against road opponents. 

The Chippewas are still looking for its first MAC win in opponents' territory, losing to both Ball State and Buffalo earlier in the season. 

“We've changed things up, we've done things the same, we've got to get better at it,” McElwain said. “We knew that going into the year, and obviously threw two goose eggs on the road at a couple of conference opponents. This one will be maybe a little different … just getting on the bus day of the game, take our shoulder pads, carrying our helmets and get off the bus and go play.” 

One reason for the lack of road success is both sides of the ball have struggled to put four quarters together. McElwain especially focused on the offensive line where he felt didn’t finish in the previous matchup against Northern Illinois.

“We didn't finish,” McElwain said. “... (I was) disappointed in (not) being able to end the game with the football. I mean, the best formation, the best play in all of football is what's called victory formation, and it’d be good to end one like that.”

The Chippewas have to find a way to put their road struggles behind and play all four quarters on both ends of the ball if they want to come out on top in Kalamazoo.

The details:

Central Michigan (5-4, 3-2) at Western Michigan (3-6, 2-3)

All-time series: Western Michigan 40-52-2

Time: 7 p.m. ET

Date: Tuesday, November 7

Stadium: Waldo Stadium

Location: Kalamazoo