No. 14 Western Michigan gets national spotlight for Buffalo
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) Western Michigan's ''Row The Boat' mantra gets a national stage this weekend.
P.J. Fleck and the No. 14 Broncos (10-0, 6-0 Mid-American) hope to continue their historic season Saturday at home against Buffalo (2-8, 1-5).
The Broncos, one of two unbeatens remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision along with top-ranked Alabama, are even hosting ESPN's ''College GameDay,'' just the second time the popular program has visited a MAC campus and the first time since 2003, when Northern Illinois visited Bowling Green.
''I remember the `GameDay' atmosphere, how crazy it was, how packed the stadium was,'' said Fleck, a receiver at Northern Illinois that year. ''We're very honored to represent the Mid-American Conference and showing them, and the whole country, what `Row the Boat' is all about.''
Fleck, who took over at Western Michigan in 2013 and finished 1-11 that season, uses the phrase to promote self-sacrifice for the betterment of the team.
''Once you find your purpose, it really changes your entire life,'' Fleck said. ''My purpose is to serve and give. When you find that purpose, it really provides energy every single day.''
Here are some other things to watch as the five-touchdown favorite Broncos try to stay unbeaten:
The Broncos, ranked No. 21 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings , are looking to stay in contention for a BCS bowl bid and extend their overall win streak to 13, dating to last season. Western Michigan, which had never won 10 games in a season before, needs to win its final two regular-season games and the MAC championship to have a chance at a major bowl.
Despite Buffalo's record this season, Fleck believes the future is bright for coach Lance Leipold and his Bulls, who have lost two straight. Buffalo finished 5-7 last season.
''Lance Leipold is one of the best coaches in the country, based on his track record, and they play so hard for him,'' Fleck said. ''We're going to expect nothing different. We're going to get their A-plus game, we know that.''
Western Michigan, led by senior quarterback Zach Terrell, senior receiver Corey Davis and junior running back Jarvion Franklin, has the MAC's best scoring offense at 44.4 points per game, while Buffalo is last at 17.9. The Broncos also have the top scoring defense at 19.5 points per game, while the Bulls are 10th at 32.3.
''Our margin of error is very small right now and we have to find a way to overcome that,'' Leipold said. ''Our team is still going through growing pains, but I'm very proud of the way we compete. We have the biggest challenge of the year this Saturday.''
Fleck doesn't expect his players to overlook Buffalo with a huge matchup looming Nov. 25 against Toledo (8-2, 5-1).
''We're going to get everybody's A-plus game,'' Fleck said. ''When you play your B-minus game or C-plus game, and somebody plays their A-plus game, it's going to be a dogfight. Elite teams find ways to win games in different ways.''
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