Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Yeah, it’s one game at a time.
Still, the lift that the Central Michigan football team got from its 26-23 victory at Ohio was palpable on Tuesday as the Chippewas practiced at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
“It's a much better feeling coming in on Sunday (and) making corrections off of a win compared to making corrections from a loss,” CMU coach John Bonamego said. “We are happy to come out with a win. We are elated with that. I thought the effort was outstanding. We showed a lot of grit and perseverance.
“However, there are still a lot of things that we didn't do well enough in that football game. Your challenge to your players is to understand what it takes to win and understand how to grow from a win just like you expect to grow from a loss.
“Bo Schembechler used to say, ‘You're either getting better or you're getting worse. You're never staying the same.’”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak and evened CMU’s record at 3-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference.
Next is Toledo, the team that was selected to win the MAC West and the MAC Championship Game in a preseason poll of media who cover the league. The Rockets are 4-1, 1-0 and coming off a 20-15 victory over Eastern Michigan in their MAC opener.
The game is Saturday (3:30 p.m. ) at Kelly/Shorts Stadium and is CMU’s homecoming.
Bonamego, probably as much as any coach in Chippewa history, recognizes, respects and embraces the tradition and importance of homecoming to the football program, the university and the community.
But he also knows how important Saturday’s game is to his football team.
“You want to put on a good performance on homecoming, obviously, with everyone coming back,” Bonamego said. “From a coaching perspective and for our players, that's not where I want their focus to be. The focus really is on the execution and what we need to do to win the football game.”
The Chippewas’ win on Saturday was their eighth in their last nine meetings with Ohio. CMU leads the all-time series with the Bobcats, 25-5-2.
With Toledo, it’s the opposite: The Rockets have won the last seven meetings with CMU and holds a 24-18-3 edge in the all-time series.
Bonamego has been in charge of the Chippewas for the last two of those meetings with Toledo. In 2015, the Rockets won, 28-23; last year, they defeated the Chippewas, 31-17 in a game that Toledo led, 3-0, at halftime.
“Certain teams just match up better with other teams, whether that be style of play, or combination of style of play and how teams are built athletically,” Bonamego said.
• Toledo’s leading receiver, Cody Thompson, was injured (broken leg) early in the Rockets’ 20-15 victory over Eastern Michigan and is out for the season. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior had 28 catches for a team-high 537 yards and four touchdowns receptions on the season. Last year, Thompson caught four TD passes in the Rockets’ win over the Chippewas.
“They still have three or four more (receivers) who are still really, really good football players,” Bonamego said. “I am not going to expect that to slow them down at all or change their approach to what they do or how they game plan.”
• Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside completed 23 of 34 pass attempts for 289 yards against Eastern. He was sacked four times. Woodside leads the MAC in total offense at 326.6 yards per game. CMU quarterback Shane Morris (278.2) is second.
• Toledo leads the MAC in total offense, averaging 501.2 yards per game; the Rockets are seventh in total defense.
Moving up the charts
• CMU defensive end Joe Ostman had two sacks on Saturday, bringing his season total to five and his career total to 19. He is fifth in program history, two behind fourth-place Mike Nettle (1989-92), who recorded 21 career sacks.
The CMU defense had four takeaways – one interception, three fumble recoveries – at Ohio, bringing its season total to 17. The Chippewas share the top spot with Penn State in Football Bowl Subdivision in that category.