WMU players, coaches won't lobby for higher ranking

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Zach Terrell

There are but two undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

One, Alabama, has been ranked No. 1 in each of the College Football Playoff rankings, and certainly will be again Tuesday.

The other, Western Michigan, was ranked No. 21 in the rankings announced last week.

It'd be easy for the Broncos to feel slighted.

But they’re putting on a happy face.

"The only respect I need is from the guys inside these walls," senior quarterback Zach Terrell said Monday afternoon, ahead of Friday night's Mid-American Conference championship game against Ohio at Ford Field. "That's all we really care about. Everybody else's opinions are their own."

Alabama is Alabama, the defending national champion, and a four-time national champion under Nick Saban. They play in the Southeastern Conference. WMU won its first-ever bowl game just last season. Nobody's saying WMU is on par.

But Western Michigan still hasn't cracked the top 10 in the Associated Press poll, either; it's 13th this week.

The MAC, a Group of Five conference, doesn't get much credit, but it does have six bowl-eligible teams, including Western Michigan (12-0), Eastern Michigan (7-5) and Central Michigan (6-6) for the first time ever in the same season.

Michigan fifth, WMU 13th in AP poll

All three have quality wins outside of conference, with WMU beating Northwestern and Illinois, EMU beating Wyoming, and CMU beating Oklahoma State, albeit on a controversial finish.

In the BCS era, WMU would be getting strong consideration for one of those bowls. In the era of the four-team playoff, it'll be on the outside, but still likely heading to a fine consolation, the New Year's Six Cotton Bowl, if it beats Ohio in the MAC title game.

That's not all bad. Even if it's not all the Broncos deserve.

After all, there's not much more you can do to state a case than finishing undefeated, regardless of your conference.

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"I can't control where we are in the polls. Our team's not focused on that, to be honest with you," WMU coach P.J. Fleck said. "That's not for us to judge.

"We're not here to state a case. We're gonna let our play talk for ourselves. We're not focused on that. That's why they have a committee ... with coaches who know how hard it is to go undefeated.

"Me debating whether we should or should not (be ranked higher) is not going to change anybody's perspective."

Twitter @tonypaul1984