Central Michigan Prepares for New Bowl, New Opponent
The Central Michigan football program has had to adjust its plans both on and off the field this week, as the Chippewas are getting ready to play Washington State on Friday in the Sun Bowl.
CMU was supposed to play Boise State in the Arizona Bowl, but the Broncos had to pull out due to COVID-19 issues. The Chips now prepare for Washington State, who was supposed to play Miami (FL) in the Sun Bowl before the Hurricanes also had COVID-19 concerns.
The Chippewas have played well this season, winning four straight games and going 6-2 in conference play. They finished the regular season with an 8-4 overall record. Their head coach, Jim McElwain, said on Wednesday that it’s been an adjustment to make this switch to a new opponent in the same week, but they’re trying to maintain what made CMU successful this season.
“You’ve got to be able to improvise, adjust, overcome,” McElwain said. “For us, I’m just really fortunate to have an unbelievable staff here. Our university’s allowed us to put a group of guys together that are on the same page. The kids kind of know the routine. We altered it a little bit, but try to put it as normal as possible and go play the game.”
Washington State enters this game with a 7-5 record, going 6-3 in the Pac-12. The Cougars started the year with three losses in four games, but quickly turned it around.
Both teams feature offenses that can throw the ball, with CMU ranked No. 25 with 270.1 passing yards per game and Washington State ranked No. 40 with 259.8 passing yards per game. That’s something that could affect the Chippewas, as they are ranked 117th in the nation in passing yards allowed with 266.3 per game. Washington State is No. 49 in the nation with 217.4 passing yards allowed per game.
“Their ability in the pass game, which is, hey, let’s call it the way it is, that’s our (defense’s) Achilles’ heel,” McElwain said. “You know, I’m sure they’re licking their chops looking at us right now, saying they might be able to set an NCAA record against these guys.”
CMU challenged itself during non-conference play with matchups against teams from the SEC with Missouri and LSU, so the Chippewas are used to play against Power 5 opponents. They lost to Missouri by 10 and LSU by 28. McElwain noted how there’s still a difference when CMU faces opponents from the Power 5.
“There’s a huge difference. I mean, you’re talking about a Power 5 program out of the Pac-12 against a bunch of guys from Central Michigan that only have one set of uniforms, so there’s a huge difference,” McElwain said. “And we get a chance for three hours to put Central Michigan University on a national television.”
Central Michigan will seek its first bowl victory since 2012. The game will kick off at 12 p.m. (EST) on Friday and it will be on CBS.