Western Michigan Gets To ‘Row The Boat’ To The Cotton Bowl [Video]
The Western Michigan Broncos, led by fiery coach P.J. Fleck, completed an undefeated season with a 29-23 win over Ohio University in the Mid American championship Saturday.
Yesterday, they were rewarded by becoming only the second Mid American Conference team to ever earn a berth in a major bowl game, getting a Cotton Bowl bid.
The Broncos will row their boat to Dallas to take on Big Ten runner up Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl classic Monday January 2nd.
In a post game interview with WWMT, Channel 3, Fleck thanked WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beaureguard, the city of Kalamazoo and even former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler.
Later, in the post game press conference, Fleck talked about the Row The Boat mantra that he brought to Kalamazoo, and how anyone can apply it to their life.
Specifically he mentioned about being bullied as a and later losing a child, and how 'keeping a row in the water' and staying positive helped him become a champion.
The last MAC team to go to a major bowl game was Northern Illinois in 2013, where they were defeated by Florida State, 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.
Western gets a good match up with Wisconsin, who finished second in the Big Ten after winning the West Division, losing 38-31 in the Big Ten championship after leading most of the game. Wisconsin lost to Michigan 14-7, and beat Michigan State 30-6during the regular season.
The teams shared three common opponents this season. Wisconsin defeated Northwestern 21-7, while Western defeated the Wildcats 22-21 in the season opened. Wisconsin and Western both rolled over Illinois and Akron by large margins.
Fleck and the Broncos have been one of the more heart warming stories in college football this year, and have garnered national attention in the their quest for perfection, including ESPN Game Day coming to Kalamazoo last month, and national features on Fleck in the New York Times, the Washington Post and on ESPN.
The team's following led to a MAC Championship game attendance record with over 50,000 screaming gold clad Bronco fans at Ford Field Saturday.