Western Michigan is bowling in the Dallas metroplex once again, but the oars have been long tossed aside.
Just like 2016, the Broncos are back in North Texas. They will face Western Kentucky in the Servpro First Responder Bowl on December 30 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the home venue of the SMU Mustangs.
Last year’s First Responder Bowl was infamously canceled after lightning struck and spoiled the contest between Boston College and Boise State. It was the first canceled bowl game in NCAA history and first canceled postseason game since 1941.
The 2018 First Responder Bowl was played at the Cotton Bowl, where the annual Oklahoma-Texas game is played. However, due to the outdoor 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl, the bowl was moved to SMU’s stadium this season.
Western Michigan (7-5) is bowl eligible for the sixth-straight season. The Broncos did not participate in a bowl in 2017 despite a 6-6 record but they’ve achieved the 6-win mark each year of the Tim Lester era. The team is still searching for its first bowl win since the 2015 Bahamas Bowl, the only bowl victory in eight appearances in program history.
At the conclusion of the 2016 season, an undefeated Western Michigan played in the Dallas area and faced Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. The Broncos’ faithful traveled well to the New Year’s Six matchup, a 24-16 loss to the Badgers. Western Michigan seniors who were on the roster in 2016 will travel to a similar location for the second time in their collegiate careers.
The Broncos’ opponent, WKU, improved to 7-5 in its first season under head coach Tyson Helton. The Hilltoppers’ last bowl game against a MAC opponent was the 2014 Bahamas Bowl, where they staved off Central Michigan in an instant classic. WKU survived Central Michigan’s successful Hail Mary and stopped the Chippewas’ 2-point attempt in order to claim a 49-48 victory.
The game kicks off December 30 at 12:30 p.m. ET at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. It is watchable on ESPN.