Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
CMU defensive tackle Robi Stuart celebrates a sack, one of eight recorded by the Chippewa defense, last week at Akron.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – All is not lost when it comes to the Central Michigan football team in the 2022 season.
To the contrary. The Chippewas are still very much alive in the hunt for a bowl bid and the Mid-American Conference West Division title. The latter goal may be a stretch as the Chippewas trail first-place Toledo by two games with five remaining.
Still, stranger things have happened, and coach Jim McElwain‘s Chippewas can look to the second half of the season eyeing continued improvement and a chance to put together a winning streak.
“Look, it hasn’t gone like any of us wanted; sometimes that happens,” CMU coach Jim McElwain said. “It’s how you deal with the adversity, and I think our guys are mature enough to deal with it in the right way.
“This is a really good group of young men that believe in each other. A lot of teams right now might be pointing fingers and these guys aren’t. that speaks to the quality of people we have in that locker room and belief in what we’re doing.”
The Chippewas, who last week won at Akron, 28-21, are set to entertain Bowling Green on Saturday (1 p.m.) on Kramer/Deromedi Field at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
“It doesn’t matter who you beat or how you win, there’s always a little more bounce on the day after and going into the beginning of the week,” CMU coach Jim McElwain said. “They’ve been focused. Ultimately, we’ve got to come up with plays and that’s kind of where we’re at on both sides of the ball.”
The Chippewas are 2-5, 1-2 MAC while Bowling Green is 3-4, 2-1.
Thomas Incoom returned a fumble 63 yards for the game-winning touchdown last week in the Chippewas’ victory at Akron.
CMU built a 21-7 lead largely on the legs of sophomore running back Marion Lukeswho finished with 249 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Lukes’ breakout performance could not have come at a better time as the Chippewas’ leading rusher, Lew Nichols IIImissed the game with an injury. Lukes was expected to share the load with fellow running back Myles Baileybut Bailey was injured relatively early in the game.
McElwain said Nichols is “probable” for the Bowling Green game, while Bailey is out. Nichols is listed as the starter and Lukes is the backup on the depth chart.
That two-TD lead turned into a tie game when Akron came alive in the second half, putting together two long scoring drives.
The Chippewa defense put together another solid performance, limiting the Zips to 20 rushing yards.
The Chippewas rank third in the MAC in total defense.
“We had an unbelievable defensive performance,” McElwain said. “Those guys are really playing at a high level and we’re going to need that this week for sure against this Bowling Green team.”
The Falcons are coming off a 17-13 win over Miami (Ohio). They fell to MAC East-leading Buffalo, 38-7, the previous week and before that downed Akron, 31-28.
Bowling Green ranks 10th in the league in total offense and ninth in total defense.
The Bowling Green game is CMU’s last on a Saturday this season. The Chippewas are scheduled to play at Northern Illinois on Nov. 2, the first of three consecutive Wednesday night games.