FIU and Central Michigan need each other right now.
Both teams have 1-2 records, and both absorbed road beatings against Power 5 schools on Saturday.
FIU lost 54-21 at Texas Tech. FIU led 7-0 and was tied 14-14 in the second quarter before allowing 24 consecutive points, setting the stage for what became a blowout.
Central Michigan lost 49-21 at LSU. In that game, however, LSU never trailed, leading 21-0 and cruising from there.
On Saturday at noon, Central Michigan will host FIU in a game both teams are desperate to win.
FIU running back D’vonte Price had his streak of four consecutive 100-yard rushing games snapped at four against Texas Tech. He rushed 15 times for 51 yards (3.4 average) and one touchdown against Texas Tech.
Still, he has at least 100 yards in six of his past eight games, and the Panthers will want to establish him in their trip to Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The Chippewas will also test FIU quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who threw a pick-six against Texas Tech. Overall this past Saturday, FIU’s sixth-year QB went 12-for-27 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a 69-yard TD pass to EJ Wilson and a 2-yarder to Nate Jefferson.
For Wilson, it was his first career TD reception, although he ran a kickoff for a score last season.
For the season, Price leads FIU with 327 rushing yards, four touchdowns and an impressive 7.6 average.
Bryce Singleton leads FIU in receptions with 13. Tyrese Chambers leads FIU in receiving yards (217), average (24.1) and reception TDs (two).
FIU’s defense, which produced no sacks and just one tackle for loss against Texas Tech, will look to force the action against the Chippewas.
The Panthers will face a stiff challenge in Central Michigan running back Lew Nichols III, who was the Mid-American Conference’s Freshman of the Year last season, posting a 196-yard game against Eastern Michigan.
This year, Nichols has 232 yards (a 4.8 average) and two TDs.
At quarterback, the Chippewas have Daniel Richardson and Jacob Sirmon.
Richardson, a three-time All-State player at Carol City, started four of Central Michigan’s six games last year. This year, he has completed 12 of 23 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Sirmon, a former backup for the Washington Huskies, has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 561 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
At receiver, the Chippewas have 6-2, 220-pound JaCorey Sullivan, who leads the team in receptions (15), yards (250), touchdowns (four) and average (16.7). Kalil Pimpleton, who is quick at 5-8 and 175 yards, had a team-high 26 grabs last year and has nine receptions this season.
The Chippewas are coached by Jim McElwain, who inherited a 1-9 team and led Central Michigan to a 2019 MAC division title. McElwain, formerly the Florida Gators’ coach, has one of the most talented defenses in the league this year, according to reports.
Defensive lineman Troy Hairston II, linebacker Troy Brown, cornerback Dishon McNary and safety Willie Reid all made the preseason first-team All-MAC. Linebacker George Douglas made the second team.
Hairston had 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for losses in six games last season, and he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year.
The Chippewas also have an All-MAC kicker (Marshall Meeder) and an All-Mac punter (Luke Elzinga). Meeder went 8-for-8 on field goals last year and is 2-for-3 this year. Elzinga is averaging 44.5 yards per punt this year.
THIS AND THAT
▪ MJ Melendez, the son of FIU baseball coach Mervyl Melendez, is one of four candidates for USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year.
Melendez, a catcher who starred at Miami Westminster Christian before the Kansas City Royals drafted him in the second round in 2017, has 38 homers in 113 games. He is competing against pitcher Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles), outfielder Riley Greene (Tigers) and shortstop Bobby Witt (Royals). Fan voting for the award closes on Thursday. Visit USA Today.com’s Twitter site for details.