Football Preview: CMU Eyes Momentum Boost in Finale

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – One final chance to right some wrongs and gain some momentum.
 
The Central Michigan football team is set to close the 2022 season on Friday (noon) with a Mid-American Conference game at Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas are 4-7, 3-4 MAC after last week’s bitterly disappointing 12-10 home loss to rival Western Michigan.
 
“It’s huge for our program to go into the offseason with a little piece of momentum,” fourth-year CMU coach Jim McElwain said.
 
The Chippewas are looking to avoid losing to both of its in-state rivals for the first time since 2018. CMU has won its last three meetings with the Eagles, who are 7-4, 4-3, and seeking to win at least eight games for the first time since 1987.
 
“They’re going to give us everything,” McElwain said. “I think they probably smell a little blood in the water. We’re struggling, obviously, and haven’t played well.”
 
The Chippewas have struggled to find consistency on offense and have committed 25 turnovers on the season. They are last in the MAC in turnover margin.
 
“The beginning of the year you start to write a book, and within that book there’s a lot of chapters,” McElwain said. “You know our chapters are not really happy and yet I think when you go through something like this you really kind of look at yourself in the mirror you can reflect in some ways; it can actually help and what I mean by help is handling frustration, handling disappointment.
 
“Hopefully that taste in your mouth is something that going into the offseason and getting ready for the following year is something you can carry with you a little bit. Like I’ve said, I really like our football team. I like the guys; it just hasn’t gone the way we wanted it.”
 
The Chippewas have, at times, moved the ball effectively, particularly on the ground primarily on the legs of quarterbacks Bert Emanuel Jr. and Jase Bauer
 
Emanuel, a freshman, has rushed for 421 yards over the past three games, the only three games he has played in this season. He will preserve his redshirt because he will have appeared in only four games in the 2022 season.
 
When CMU has moved it on the ground, it has been competitive or won. The Chippewas rushed for 199 yards in a win at Akron, 245 in a win at Northern Illinois, and a season-high 303 two weeks ago in a home victory over Buffalo. Emanuel had 293 of those, the fourth-highest rushing total in program history.
 
The run game should benefit on Friday with the return from injury of running back Marion Lukes. Lukes, a sophomore, ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the victory at Akron.
 
CMU has been solid to very good on defense throughout most of the season. The Chippewas rank third in total defense in the MAC.
 
• Among the leaders on the CMU defense is senior defensive end Thomas Incoom, who is second in the nation in both sacks (11 ½) and tackles-for-loss (19).
 
• Chippewa cornerback Donte Kent has 15 pass breakups and 15 passes defended on the season. He is tied for second in the nation in breakups and is tied for fourth in passes defended.
 
• CMU is first in the MAC and 21st nationally in opponent third-down conversions.
 
• The Chippewas are second nationally with six blocked kicks. CMU has blocked four punts, one field goal attempt, and one extra-point attempt.
 
Final Game
Thirteen Chippewas will play their final game in a CMU uniform on Friday. They are Carlos Carriere, Tyden Ferris, Incoom, Cole Johnson, Ronald Kent Jr., Bryant Kieft, Jamezz Kimbrough, Noah Koenigsknecht, Danny Motowski, Jeremy Sadler, Robi Stuart, John Wesley Whiteside, and Joel Wilson.
 
Scouting
Eastern Michigan is headed to a bowl game for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five seasons.
 
The Eagles have won their last two starts and three of their last four. The lone loss in that stretch came at home to MAC West champion Toledo, 27-24, when the Rockets scored the go-ahead touchdown with just over two minutes remaining.
 
Among the Eagles’ victories was a 30-21 triumph at Arizona State in the third game of the season.
 
Running back Samson Evans is third in the MAC with 949 rushing yards and is second with 12 rushing touchdowns. Evans ran for 258 yards to lead EMU’s victory at Arizona State. It was Eastern’s first victory over a Power-5 opponent since 2019 (Illinois).
 
 
 

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