At the beginning of the 2021 season, many Western Michigan fans had hopes of seeing the Broncos return to Ford Field for the MAC Championship. Having not reached the conference title game since the magical 2016 season, many felt that Western had the talent to make a return appearance.
Though the Broncos (7-5, 4-4 MAC) failed to reach that goal, their seven wins earned them bowl eligibility, and it turns out that a trip to Detroit was in the cards after all. Tim Lester’s squad will take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (8-4, 5-5 Mountain West) in the Quick Lane Bowl on December 27th, in what will be the first meeting between the two programs.
After a 4-1 start to the year, which included a 44-41 victory over ACC champion Pitt, the Broncos stumbled badly during the second half of the season. Three losses in four weeks to division foes Ball State, Toledo and Central Michigan all but ended their division title hopes and left Western scrambling to secure bowl eligibility.
The Broncos promptly won two of their final three games, including an emphatic 42-21 victory over eventual conference champion Northern Illinois, and give themselves some momentum heading into bowl season. Whether or not they can capitalize on their strong finish to the season remains to be seen.
The Broncos reward for their strong finish will be the high powered Wolf Pack, who enter this match up armed with a high flying passing attack led by one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of five. Carson Strong finished the 2021 season sixth in the FBS in passing yards with 4,186, and was only one of six signal callers to break the 4,000 yard plateau this year. Along with receivers Romeo Doubs and Tory Horton, Strong will present a tough test for a Broncos secondary that has struggled all year to limit big plays.
The 2021 Quick Lane Bowl will kick at 11:00 a.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 27th from Detroit. This will be the seventh iteration of the bowl that began in 2014 as a replacement for the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, and marks the third time that the MAC will participate. The MAC is 0-2 in its previous appearances, the most recent being Eastern Michigan’s 34-30 loss to Pitt in 2019.