At one point in time, playing a Mid-American Conference opponent was a staple of the Michigan schedule; in fact, the Wolverines played at least one MAC foe in each season from 2000 to 2014. Perhaps the move to nine Big Ten games per season ended this streak, but the current four-year drought with the neighboring conference will come to a halt this Saturday.
Western Michigan comes to the Big House for the seventh time in school history. The Broncos (0-6) have yet to win against Michigan, which puts them in good company with Eastern Michigan (0-10) and Central Michigan (0-4). As 20-plus point underdogs this weekend, that trend is likely to continue against the Wolverines.
2001: Michigan 38, Western Michigan 21 (Ann Arbor)
The No. 20 Wolverines hosted the Broncos in their first game following September 11th. Sophomore quarterback John Navarre was at the helm and had a quality day, throwing for 240 yards and two scores without turning the ball over. Michigan was in control for most of the game and entered halftime up 24-7. An early third quarter touchdown all but sealed the victory.
The biggest game came from running back B.J. Askew, who carried the ball 15 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also took a screen pass from Navarre 42 yards to the house to open the scoring in the first quarter. Marquise Walker and Dave Underwood were the other Wolverines to find the endzone on the afternoon.
2002: Michigan 35, Western Michigan 12 (Ann Arbor)
The two teams squared off at the Big House for the second year in a row, with Michigan ranked seventh overall following a last-minute win over Washington. The sequel was similar to the previous year, with the Wolverines scoring three times in the first half and a couple more times in the third quarter to earn the easy win.
Michigan was led by Chris Perry and Braylon Edwards, who proved to be the offensive leaders of the team all year. Edwards hauled in four catches against Western Michigan for 93 yards, two of which went for touchdowns. While Perry did not reach the endzone, he averaged almost seven yards a carry and tallied 118 yards on the ground.
2009: Michigan 31, Western Michigan 7 (Ann Arbor)
Year Two under head coach Rich Rodriguez began with a beatdown of the Broncos in Ann Arbor. Michigan did all of its scoring in the first half, and the defense kept Western Michigan off the scoreboard until partway into the fourth quarter. Freshman Tate Forcier got the start at quarterback in his debut, throwing for three touchdowns, two going to wide receiver Junior Hemingway.
It was the other freshman quarterback, though, that got most of the headlines. Denard Robinson only threw four passes, but his 11 carries showed a glimpse of his potential. Many remember the very first snap of his career, which he immediately dropped, picked up, and sped through the entire Bronco defense on his way to a 43-yard score.
2011: Michigan 34, Western Michigan 10 (Ann Arbor)
Though the final score said Michigan won by 24, the outcome might have been even steeper if not for inclement weather which ended the game early. New head coach Brady Hoke earned a win in his first game under a strong ground performance and two defensive touchdowns. Robinson threw the ball just 13 times, as the Maize and Blue bounced back from a 7-0 first quarter deficit.
Fitzgerald Toussaint was the main weapon out of the backfield, scampering for 80 yards and two scores. Senior running back Michael Shaw also reached the endzone later in the game. The most exciting player was linebacker Brandon Herron, who scored two times for the Wolverine defense. His 94-yard pick-six gave Michigan the lead in the second quarter, and his 29-yard fumble return after halftime put the Broncos away for good.