WMU, CMU football to play on a Wednesday on ESPN2

Tony Paul, The Detroit News

For the first time in a decade, one of the state’s most storied and most heated football rivalries will play midweek.

Central Michigan will play at Western Michigan on a Wednesday night, Nov. 1, the Mid-American Conference announced in releasing its full 2017 schedule Wednesday.

There are pluses and minuses to the decision.

The big plus, of course, is television. ESPN2 will broadcast the game, which it certainly wouldn’t be able to do if it was being played on a typical football Saturday.

The big minus, meanwhile, is that it has the potential to limit the crowd at Waldo Stadium that night. Western Michigan fans, no doubt, still will flock to the stadium, but Central Michigan fans could struggle to make the trip during a school week.

“The television games have been chosen by ESPN,” Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said. “We have agreed as a league to play those games that are assigned to us by ESPN.

“Is it our best, ideal situation? No. But we will make it exactly what it needs to be.”

The game has been played on a Saturday every year but once in the past decade. In 2010, it was played on a Friday.

It was last played midweek in 2007, on a Wednesday.

Western Michigan, coming off a 13-1 season and an appearance in the New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl, has the most-grueling schedule among the state MAC schools, opening with two games on the road, at Southern California and Michigan State.

Here are the complete schedules for the state MAC schools, all three of which played in a bowl game following the 2016 season.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Aug. 31: Rhode Island

Sept. 9: at Kansas

Sept. 16: at Syracuse

Sept. 23: Miami (Ohio)

Sept. 30: at Boston College

Oct. 7: at Ohio

Oct. 14: Toledo

Oct. 21: at Ball State

Nov. 1: at Western Michigan (ESPN2)

Nov. 8: Eastern Michigan (ESPN2, ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 14: at Kent State (ESPN2, ESPNU)

Nov. 24: Northern Illinois (ESPNU, CBSSN)

EASTERN MICHIGAN

Sept. 1: Charlotte

Sept. 9: at Rutgers

Sept. 23: Ohio

Sept. 30: at Kentucky

Oct. 7: at Toledo

Oct. 14: at Army

Oct. 21: Western Michigan

Oct. 26: at Northern Illinois (CBSSN, ESPN3)

Nov. 2: Ball State (ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 8: at Central Michigan (ESPN2, ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 15: at Miami (Ohio) (ESPN2, ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 21: Bowling Green (ESPNU, ESPN3)

WESTERN MICHIGAN

Sept. 2: at Southern California

Sept. 9: at Michigan State

Sept. 16: Idaho

Sept. 23: Wagner

Sept. 30: Ball State

Oct. 7: at Buffalo

Oct. 14: Akron

Oct. 21: at Eastern Michigan

Nov. 1: Central Michigan (ESPN2)

Nov. 8: Kent State (ESPN2, ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 15: Northern Illinois (ESPN2, ESPNU, CBSSN)

Nov. 24: at Toledo (ESPNU, CBSSN, ESPN3)

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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