Saturday, December 3, 2016

The 2016 MAC Championship Game

In 2011, I started shooting Eastern Michigan sports from the sidelines for Eagle Totem.  Since that blog exclusively covered Eastern Michigan, I never really had a reason to go to the MAC Championship game.  The blog I shoot sports for now covers most MAC teams, so I decided to get a pass for the MAC Championship game last night.  This would be the first time to shoot from the sidelines at Ford Field for me and I'll have to admit that I was pretty excited about that prospect.

As always, the pictures here will be pictures surrounding the game.  If you would like to see game shots go to Hustle Belt.
 It was a pretty busy night in Detroit as roughly 46,000 fans decided to make the trek for the game.  There was also something going on at the Fox and Fillmore.  Woodward Avenue was also lit for the holiday season.  So it made for a nice evening hustle and bustle shot from Detroit.
 I couldn't pass up taking pictures of one of the Tiger heads at Comerica Field.  These look pretty cool at night.
 Ford Field is the home of the Detroit Lions Football team.   And since I had field access, I got to go through the tunnel which was an adventure.  Construction on Ford Field started in November of 1999 and it was opened in August of 2002.  The first regular season game at Ford Field was a game in which the Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers 31-37 on September 22, 2002.  Their first victory was 26 to 21 against the New Orleans Saints the next week.   In 2006, Ford Field was host to Super Bowl XL in which the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks.  I will have to admit that it is a pretty nice stadium.
 Entering the field.  I barely made it to the game in time to see the opening kick off since I went right from work.  I ended up parking at MGM Casino and walking to Ford Field.  It was a nice but cold walk.
 I got a chance to see Buster Bronco again.
 There were quite a few Western Michigan fans that showed up for the game.  At 12-0 (at the time), they figured they deserved a shot against Alabama in the College Playoff.
 The Ohio Bobcat band.
 Another group of Western fans.
 And some fans expressing their opinion of the College Football Playoff Committee.
 You never realize how close things are until you see them in person.  It looked like Western Michigan had made the first down but they respotted the ball and it turns out they didn't.  Western Michigan had to settle for field goal.
 Another shot of the refs.
 Frank Solich is the current head coach for Ohio and has been since the 2005 season.  In that time, he amassed an 88-66 record.  Prior to that, he was the head coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and despite a 58 and 19 record, he was fired.  Sports are strange some times.  Anyway, Frank Solich represents the side of MAC coaching where the coach was pretty good somewhere else and goes to the MAC rather than retiring.
 The players returning to the locker room after the half.
 A shot of the Western Michigan band.
 And the Ohio band.
 Rufus the Bobcat is the Ohio Mascot.  He is famous because someone who was dressed as Rufus ended up tackling the Ohio State Buckeye Mascot.
 Ford Field was built prior to the explosion of digital photography.  Therefore it still has two darkrooms.  I would imagine in the days of film, someone would develop the pictures so that they could be published in newspapers by the next day.
 Just in case Ohio won the MAC Championship.
 P.J. Fleck is Western Michigan's exciting coach.  He has been their head coach since 2013 and has amassed a 30-21 record in that time.  Prior to being head coach at Western Michigan, he was a wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He played football for Northern Illinois where he was a wide receiver.  He briefly played for the San Francisco 49'ers but never really had much of a career.  Fleck represents the other type of coach in the MAC, the up and coming coach that eventually ends up getting hired by a bigger program.  As a fan of the rival team, I would like to see that happen but for the sake of the MAC, I would like to see him stick around at Western for a couple more years anyway.
 The Western Michigan cheerleaders.
 Another Western Michigan fan.  I guess they take that Bronco thing pretty seriously.
 Quite a few Ohio fans were on had at the game too.
 Sometimes people like to give those cruel little reminders.
 After Western couldn't punch the ball in for a touchdown and had to settle for a 29-23 lead, Ohio got the ball back with around 2 minutes left in the game.  The started to put together a nice little drive and it looked like they might actually pull off the upset.  Western Michigan managed to get an interception in order to secure their victory.  There were 50 seconds left and Ohio didn't have any time outs.  The Western Michigan offense was able to line up in the victory formation for two snaps.

So congratulations to the new MAC Champions.

It was odd covering a game where Eastern Michigan wasn't playing.  It was also kind of nice because I really didn't have a dog in the hunt.  Part of me wanted to see Western Michigan continue with their undefeated season but another part of me wanted to see Ohio pull off the upset.  I'm just glad that I was treated to a pretty exciting game.
And a shot of Detroit as I was heading back to the MGM Casino.

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