Northern Illinois held the advantage in tie-breakers, so it was the Huskies who headed to the MAC Championship game, where it was defeated by Bowling Green.
Still, the Broncos' 7-5 overall record made them bowl eligible, and when the bowl invitations were handed out, WMU found out it was heading to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
Such assignments are well received, to put it mildly. But the Broncos will be mindful of coming away with a victory, since it would be the first bowl win in program history. WMU is also trying to notch its first back-to-back seasons with at least eight wins.
Middle Tennessee, meanwhile, has become something of a regular on the postseason scene. It has been bowl eligible seven times in the last 10 years and is making its fifth straight bowl appearance.
Here's more on the game and theses two teams:
Where: Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 24, Noon ET
WHO: Western Michigan, 7-5 (6-2 MAC, Tie for 1st, MAC West) vs Middle Tennessee (6-5, 5-2 Conference USA)
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE
• The Blue Raiders have been bowl eligible seven times in 10 years and the Bahamas Bowl will be the fifth bowl game in the FBS era.
• Middle Tennessee has 20 players on its roster with a degree in hand forthe Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
• This will be the first football game Middle Tennessee has ever played on the date of December 24.
• In Middle Tennessee’s seven wins it is averaging 529.7 yards of total offense and allowing just 324.1.
• Middle Tennessee is averaging 44.3 points a game at home and 24.2 on the road.
• TE Terry Pettis ranks 6th nationally in yards per catch at 21.2. That total would also rank 6th best for a single-season at Middle Tennessee.
• WR Richie James has 45 receptions in his last five games combined.
• WR Richie James is averaging 8.3 receptions a game this season as a freshman to rank 3rd nation- ally and ranks 1st among freshmen.
• Cody Clark’s consecutive made PAT streak of 144 ranks as the third longest nationally.
• Middle Tennessee’s 73 points scored in the conference opener against Charlotte went down as the second most scored in school history and came on the heels of a 70-point outing in game one.
• Middle Tennessee had 42 points in the first quarter in win over Charlotte which was a school record for points in a quarter.
• In their last 32 conference games, Middle Tennessee has a mark of 23-9.
• Kevin Byard is 2nd among NCAA’s active players in interceptions per game at 0.40. He also ranks T1st in total interceptions with 19.
• Over the last 42 games, the Blue Raider defense has come up with 53 interceptions. The team had 15 picks in 2013 by eight different players, 13 in 2014 and 16 so far in 2015.
• Under Head Coach Rick Stockstill, the Blue Raiders have been involved in 18 games that were decided in the final minute of regulation or overtime. The team is 11-7 in those games and have won seven of the last eight.
• Head Coach Rick Stockstill is third on the school’s all-time wins listwith 64 victories.
• In 124 games under Rick Stockstill, the Blue Raiders are +23 in turnover margin.
• Middle Tennessee has scored 30 or more points 51 times under Rick Stockstill. The most 30-point games in a season under Stockstill is nine (2009).
Bowl History: The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl marks the ninth bowl Middle Tennessee has participated in during its football history but the fifth n the FBS era. The Blue Raiders faced Central Michigan in the 2006 iMotor City Bowl (lost 31-14), then defeated Southern Miss (42-32) in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl to cap a 10-3 season. MT went on to the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl, where they fell to Miami, OH (35-21) before falling to Navy in the 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (24-6). Prior to the FBS era, the Blue Raiders competed in the 1956 Refrigerator Bowl, the 1960 and 1961 Tangerine Bowl, and the 1964 Grantland Rice Bowl. James An All-American: Receiver Richie James earned First Team USA Today Freshman All-America honors after posting a school record 100 receptions for 1,220 yards in 2015. James becomes the fourth freshman all-American in school history and the third under Rick Stockstill.
Strong Seniors: The 2015 Senior Class enters the bowl game with 29 victories the past four years, which goes down as the most ever by a classin MT’s FBS era (since 1999). It’s also the most since the 1995 class won 30 games. The class has also been bowl eligible all four years.
ABOUT WESTERN MICHIGAN
• Western Michigan will take on Middle Tennessee State in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 24 at noon on ESPN. This marks the first time in school history the Broncos have played in bowl games in consecutive seasons and just their seventh appearance overall.
• A win would give the Broncos their first bowl win in program history aswell as the first time having eight wins in back-to-back seasons.
• Western Michigan is coming off its first win over a ranked opponent in program history, beating No. 24 Toledo 35-30 in the regular season finale.
• The Broncos had 11 All-MAC selections including three first-team se- lections. Jamauri Bogan became the fourth straight Bronco to earn MAC Freshman of the Year honors.
• The Broncos rank second in the country in time of possession after win- ning the time of possession battle in every game this season.
• Junior receivers Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman each went over the 1,200 receiving yards mark for the season, becoming the first duo in the country since 2010 to do so.
• WR Corey Davis now has six straight games with at least 100+ yards receiving and is second place all-time at Western Michigan with 3,602 yards. Davis is first among active FBS players in receiving yards andsecond in the country with 32 career TDs. Davis has 227 catches in his career, just one of five players in program history to eclipse the 200-catch mark.
• WR Daniel Braverman is the only player in the country inside the top eight in receptions (2nd-103), yards (8th-1,270) and receiving TDs (8th-12). He is third in program history in a single season with 103 receptions,and is also third place in a single season with 12 TDs. Braverman ranks eighth in the country with an average of 105.8 yards per game.
• RB Jamauri Bogan ran for his 12th touchdown of the year against No. 24 Toledo. Earlier this year, his four TDs at Eastern Michigan made him the first Bronco to achieve that feat since Phil Reed accomplished the feat on Oct. 19, 2002. He is the first Bronco to score four touchdowns of any kind in a game since Greg Jennings did so Oct. 8, 2005.
• Sophomore cornerback Darius Phillips recorded his fifth interception of the year against Northern Illinois. Phillips ranks in the top-25 in the country in interceptions and is fifth in the nation in total pass breakups with 20.
• QB Zach Terrell has four 300-yard passing games this season and 27 passing TDs, second most in the MAC. Terrell now has 8,274 career passing yards, becoming the fifth player in Western Michigan history to throw for over 8,000 yards.
Big Foot: Senior kicker Andrew Haldeman has been money for the Broncos the last five weeks going 11-of-11 on field goals including fourover 40 yards and a season-high of 48 yards against Bowling Green. His four 40-yard field goals are a career-high. For his career he has 56 made field goals, the most in Western Michigan history and 328 points for his career, second most by a Bronco kicker in history.
Top Arm: Junior quarterback Zach Terrell continued his climb up the charts as one of the best players in the MAC and one of the all-time greats at Western Michigan. He has 27 touchdowns this season, good for second in the MAC and 15th in the country. He now has 61 touchdown passes for his career, good for fourth in program history. Terrell has also accumulated some of the best yardage totals in program history, as he has already moved into fifth all-time at Western Michigan, becoming one of just five players in program history to eclipse the 8,000 yard mark. Another sign of his growth, has been the ability to take on more of the offense on him- self. Terrell has improved his passing yards per game each season and is currently 30th in the country at 277.7 yards in 2015.