Western Michigan football head coach Tim Lester said he wasn’t opposed to playing rival Central Michigan in Detroit as long as doing so would not cost WMU a home game.
In the original schedule for the 2020 season, WMU and CMU were set to square off at Ford Field in Detroit, which would have marked the first time the game was played at a neutral site. Central Michigan would have been considered the home team, as it hosts the game on even years.
Instead, after the coronavirus pandemic limited the MAC season to just six games, the two teams will square off at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant on Wednesday, November 18.
“It’s kind of a unique thing that (Central Michigan) wanted to do- that would have been cool for a year,” Lester said in a Zoom conference with reporters last week. “It is a special game. So it would be cool to play it at a special place. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to lose a game at Waldo (Stadium), though.”
Playing at home has been important for the Broncos success under Lester. WMU is 13-5 at home compared to 7-11 on the road and 0-2 at neutral sites since Lester became the head coach in 2017. In 2019, the difference was even more pronounced as the Broncos went 6-0 at home and just 1-5 on the road.
“It was working out really well, I thought, that we got to play (in Detroit) instead of Mount Pleasant and then come back here the next year,” Lester said. “So if we can plan that again, I’m all for it.”
Since Central Michigan joined the MAC in 1971, WMU is 6-16-1 in games at CMU compared to a 12-12 record at home against the Chippewas. However, the road team has won six of the last eight contests in the series.
“I’m not anti- making it - doing something special with (the rivalry game) for a year, but not for three, four years, I mean, I just wouldn’t want to do that to our campus community,” Lester said.
For now, the series will stay put in Mount Pleasant and Kalamazoo. WMU is looking to pick up win No. 51 in the series, holding a 50-38-2 lead all-time in the rivalry. The Broncos have also won seven of the last nine contests.