Western Michigan Broncos need to be taken seriously
The Western Michigan Broncos (11-0, 7-0 Mid-American Conference) deserve to be playing in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game.
In the latest rankings released by the College Football Playoff committee, the Broncos were ranked at No. 21. That’s disrespectful to one of only two undefeated Division-I teams in the nation. The AP poll has been a little bit nicer, ranking the Broncos at No. 14. That’s still too high of a number to me.
Western Michigan is a legitimate football team who has the unfortunate luck of playing in an undervalued conference. The MAC as a whole is seen as a week conference, despite its continued turnout of NFL talent. I don’t expect a MAC team to be valued like a team in one of the power-five conferences. I do expect them to be measured in the same vein as the rest of the group-of-five conferences.
The group of five includes the MAC, the Mountain West Conference, the American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA and the Sun-Belt Conference. While these are all seen as lesser than the power-five, the rankings have shown favoritism to some of those conferences. MWC member, the Boise State Broncos (10-1, 6-1 MWC) has been ahead of Western Michigan in the CFP rankings for the last two weeks. AAC member, the Houston Cougars (9-2, 5-2 AAC) have also stayed ranked ahead of Western.
Western Michigan is currently ranked behind 14 different teams with at least two losses. The argument can be made about their strength of schedule but at one point winning is winning. Western has come out victorious no matter who they’ve come up against. That has to come into play. The main thing Western is missing is the “signature-win.”
Boise State can boast a win over a top-25 opponent in Washington State. Houston opened their season with a win over a top-25 opponent when they defeated the Oklahoma Sooners. Western falls short there with not having a top-25 win. They also haven’t had a chance to play a top-25 team.
Houston having two losses should immediately remove them from the conversation. They lost to a 5-6 SMU Mustangs team. That coupled with any other loss means they shouldn’t even be in consideration for a “New Year’s Six” game. Boise State makes things slightly more complicated.
Currently, Boise State is the top team in the group of five and therefore gets the one at large bid for the five conferences. The problem with them being the top team is they were behind Western Michigan only a few weeks ago. The only reason Boise State jumped ahead of Western was because Western had a slow start against Kent State. I don’t care how you start a game, I care how you finish.
Every time Western Michigan has walked onto a football field this season, they finished. Eleven wins and no losses says it shouldn’t even be a question. If Western wins out which would include beating a 9-2 Toledo team and whoever they would face in the conference championship, there is no reasonable argument to keep them out of a major bowl. They may not have one signature-win but they certainly have a plethora of great performances.
They beat two Big Ten teams during their non-conference schedule. In conference play they have been even more dominant. Western has scored at least 37 in every conference game including a 41-0 thrashing of Akron and a 38-0 blowout of Buffalo. Their first conference game was a 49-10 win over Central Michigan who defeated No. 10 Oklahoma State during their non-conference schedule. Besides their season opener, Western has won every single game by at least two touchdowns.
It’s atrocious that Western has to hope Wyoming can win a game and take Boise State’s spot in the MWC championship. An undefeated team, from any conference, should not have to wait on any other teams to decide their fate for them. If Boise State goes to the title game and wins, Western Michigan can kiss the “New Year’s Six” goodbye.
Dan Petruccelli is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org