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No. 13 WMU holds on, beats Ohio 29-23 in MAC title game

Western Michigan players celebrate their win over Ohio in the Mid-American Conference championship college football game, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Detroit. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Western Michigan players celebrate their win over Ohio in the Mid-American Conference championship college football game, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Detroit. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
By Noah Trister Associated Press

DETROIT – Robert Spillane intercepted a pass with 51 seconds remaining, and No. 13 Western Michigan remained undefeated, holding off Ohio 29-23 on Friday night to win its first Mid-American Conference title since 1988.

The Broncos (13-0, No. 17 CFP) led 23-7 at halftime, but Ohio rallied and had the ball in WMU territory in the final minute when Spillane intercepted Greg Windham’s pass over the middle. Spillane immediately took a knee at his own 30, then was mobbed by his teammates as a Ford Field crowd full of Broncos fans roared.

Ohio (9-4) never led and didn’t do much on offense until the final quarter, but the Bobcats still came achingly close to their first MAC championship since 1968.

Instead, WMU became the first undefeated team to win the MAC title game since Marshall in 1999. The question is whether the Broncos have done enough to make it to the Cotton Bowl. WMU is trying to earn the Group of Five bid to a New Year’s Six bowl.

Western Michigan’s Corey Davis had eight catches for 144 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Butch Hampton kicked five field goals, the last a 34-yarder that gave the Broncos a 29-23 lead with 1:24 remaining.

The crowd of 45,615 was easily a record for a MAC title game.

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