“It’s Central week.”
For years this term has brought mixed emotions around campus and for people across the
Western Michigan University Bronco community, and finally last year, the Cannon
trophy came home where it belongs in Kalamazoo.
The Brown and Gold will meet its hated Mid-American Conference West Division rival
Central Michigan University Chippewas for the 82nd annual meeting Saturday
in Mt. Pleasant.
The game marks the fifth time that the rivals will Battle for the Cannon trophy, but WMU
has the task of defending its newly acquired trophy for the first time.
The Cannon series could easily be tied 2-2, and probably should be, but the last time WMU
traveled to CMU during the 2010 season, the Broncos fumbled away a victory inside
the Chips 5-yard line with under a minute to play in the game. WMU only trailed
CMU by four points.
The Chippewas took a knee, and with timing of the schedule that season, took the
Broncos bowl hopes along with them. This season would be identical with a WMU
“Monday thru Friday you’re getting a little piece of what this game actually means to a lot
of people including our guys in the locker room,” said WMU head coach Bill
Cubit. “These kids are resilient, they’re out there working hard and nobody was
hanging their heads, they know what’s at stake. We haven’t had much success up
there and this is the perfect chance to change that.”
WMU lost, 26-22, after the Broncos blew an eleven-point lead. The Brown and Gold also
lost four of five fumbles on a nasty wintery-mix night. Mother Nature has a way
of showing her face when these teams hook up for this bitter rivalry game.
“Sometimes you go up there and play tight and they’re playing lose,” said Cubit. “You
cannot play to lose, you gotta have some fun and let it fly. Our kids are
prepared and focused. Every week you gotta get off the ground and be ready to
go. We can do something special up there.”
Neither team will appear in the MAC Championship game this year, but that doesn’t take any
luster away from this series.
“It really means a lot just thinking about all of the guys I’ve played with,” said WMU
senior receiver Eric Monette. “Every year it means a little bit more I think,
there’s a deep seeded hatred in this rivalry, and just being from Michigan and
growing up in the area I know what it’s like to play here and everyone really
wants this victory.”
Monette recorded his first career 100-yard game in the loss at home last week to the
MAC West leading Northern Illinois University Huskies.
WMU has lost three straight games for the first time in five years, and is looking to avoid
losing four-in-a-row for the first time since 2004.
Coach Cubit has never lost four in a row during his tenure at WMU.
Last season WMU snapped a five game losing streak against its rival with a 44-14 drubbing
of the Chips (3-5, 1-3 MAC) at Waldo Stadium. The win gave WMU head coach Bill
Cubit his first win against CMU since the 2005 season which was his first year
His team has never won in Mt. Pleasant, and WMU has only one win at Kelly/Shorts Stadium
since 1973, a 35-10 victory on the final day of the 2002 campaign.
WMU leads the all-time series with CMU 44-35-2, but coach Cubit is 2-5 against the Chips and
won the Cannon for his first time in four attempts last year. He’s never beaten
CMU in consecutive seasons, and that’s more than enough incentive to get his
first win in Mt. Pleasant.
“I wanna be that guy,” said Cubit. “I want our team to be that team, and I think [Tyler]
wants to be that quarterback.”
The Broncos have scored at will against CMU in recent years putting up a minimum of 20
points in ten of the last eleven meetings.
Last year WMU dominated the Chips from the opening kickoff, but Jordan White, Chleb
Ravenell and Robert Arnheim have left the building. Not to mention, WMU
starting quarterback Alex Carder still won’t be back after having a pin placed
in his throwing hand after banging his hand on an opponent’s helmet earlier in
With or without Carder, the receiving corps has been injury prone since the opening
kickoff of the season when Broncos wideout Timmy Keith went down for the year
after rupturing his ACL.
“I’m not the most vocal leader but we’ve just gotta go out there and match their intensity,”
said Monette. “We just need everybody to play like a starter, and if you’re not
just make sure you watch film every day and be accountable if your number is
Tyler VanTubbergen will get the start again and will find out firsthand what this rivalry
WMU is (3-6, 1-4 MAC) entering this game and would have to win out just to be bowl eligible,
but like a wise professor once told me, ‘It
doesn’t matter if my beloved Broncos go 1-11 every single season, as long as
that one win came against those hated Chippewas every single year!’
As ridiculous as that sounds I cannot argue the logic.