Western Michigan came up big in the clutch to defeat Middle Tennessee 45-31 in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on Thursday afternoon. The Broncos outscored the Blue Raiders 21-7 in the fourth quarter to earn the first bowl victory in the program's history.
How the game was won: Western Michigan (8-5) came up with key plays with the game on the line. Neither team led by more than a touchdown at any point until Western Michigan running back Jamauri Bogan scored his fourth touchdown of the game, a 1-yard score with five minutes remaining that provided the final margin. Bogan’s touchdown came two plays after Rontavious Atkins’ interception set up the Broncos' offense inside the Middle Tennessee 10-yard line. Western Michigan forced Middle Tennessee (7-6) to turn the ball over on downs in its next possession to cement the win.
Player of the game: Bogan was a big-play machine. He finished with 19 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns. Bogan had runs of 62, 61 and 46 yards and averaged 11.3 yards per carry as he carried the Broncos to a win.
Stat of the game: Big plays were the name of the game. Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan combined for nine plays of 40 yards or longer, including six that resulted in touchdowns. The offensive fireworks started immediately with a 46-yard touchdown run by Middle Tennessee’s Richie James on the Blue Raiders' first possession. Western Michigan responded with a 62-yard touchdown run from Bogan on its first possession. James’ 44-yard touchdown reception on Middle Tennessee’s second possession capped an explosive start. There were three touchdowns of 40 yards or longer in the first four minutes.
What the win means for Western Michigan: It is the first bowl victory in school history -- Western Michigan was 0-6 in its six previous bowl appearances. The Broncos finish with back-to-back eight-win seasons after going 1-11 in 2013.
What the loss means for Middle Tennessee: It is Middle Tennessee’s second straight season with six losses. The Blue Raiders had won eight games the previous two seasons (2012, 2013).