10:44: The Chippewas are trying to mount a comeback. It is not working. Coach Butch Jones elected to go for it on fourth down, with CMU inside the FAU 5-yard line, instead of kicking the field goal and making it an 8-point game. Hmmmm.
10:42: The announced attendance is 41,399. That sounds about right - just about all of them are CMU fans, too.
10:36: FAU scores on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-13. There is obviously something wrong with CMU right now, and it is not the flu bug that was going around earlier in the week.
10:18: The penalty bug strikes CMU yet again. A reverse play that would have went for a 72-yard touchdown was called back after Kito Poblah was flagged for a facemask penalty while blocking downfield. That offset an FAU offside penalty back at the line of scrimmage, resulting in a replay of the down. That has to hurt.
10:04: LeFevour still looks too hesitant in the pocket - he took off running a little too late on third down. CMU does get a field goal to make it 17-13 Owls.
9:57: Great second effort by Justin Hoskins on third down, taking a pass another five yards after contact to give CMU the first down. The Chippewas are driving through FAU territory now.
9:54: Antonio Brown returns the ball out to CMU's 45-yard line thanks to the unsportsmanlike conduct call following FAU's touchdown. But again, a block in the back penalty puts the ball back toward the 20. That is how penalties can kill a team.
9:47: The Chippewas come up with another big stop on third down... or not. Larry Knight gets flagged for a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty, then Rusty Smith throws a 52-yard touchdown bomb to Chris Bonner. That is how penalties can kill a team.
9:40: Florida Atlantic starts its first second half drive on its 2-yard line. Nice punt by Hartmann, again.
9:38: Maybe it is just me, but LeFevour seems like he is a little off his game, despite completing 15 of 20 passes. He's a little more hesitant in the pocket than he used to be and is not showing his running ability as well as he has in the past. That is part of the reason why the offense is struggling - CMU opens up defenses with that quarterback running ability.
9:08: LeFevour takes a knee and sends the game to halftime. There's plenty of offense, with both teams hovering around 200 total yards, but not many points to be had thus far. Seniors Ontario Sneed and Justin Hoskins have combined for 60 yards on 12 carries, better than usual. And the CMU defense, overall, is playing well despite allowing some yardage. Rusty Smith is 10-for-20 for 158 yards.
9:01: Florida Atlantic drives again, but has to settle on a 36-yard field goal to tie the game. Only 47 seconds left until halftime.
8:52: CMU punter Brett Hartmann's stats get a boost with a 67-yarder, aided by Tavious Polo's muffed return. FAU starts at its 18-yard line instead of around the 30.
8:46: The defense bent, but did not break. A common mantra for this team. A third-down sack forces FAU to punt when it probably could have kicked a field goal had Rusty Smith thrown an incompletion.
8:43: The Owls have another drive going. CMU is playing very soft coverage, allowing receivers to get open and running backs to get moderate gains.
8:35: Andrew Aguila hits a 34-yard field goal to give CMU its first lead. ESPN has to be disappointed at the lack of offensive firepower in this game so far.
8:31: Three-and-out again for Florida Atlantic. The CMU defense stays hot. Meanwhile, Antonio Brown looked like he was going to let the punt go, but then caught it on a bounce and took it 27 yards to FAU's 38-yard line. The guy's a stud on punt returns this year.
8:25: Wow! Sophomore wideout Kito Poblah just made a highlight-reel catch - a one-hander in the corner of the end zone. Tie game.
8:23: Running back Justin Hoskins, also a senior, is getting some chances in his final game. Two consecutive first-down runs to put CMU inside the FAU 10-yard line. It is good to see him play well early.
8:19: End of the first quarter. FAU still ahead 7-0, but CMU's driving. The Chippewas just need to settle down a little bit and not force anything. The Owls have had one good drive, but not much else other than that. Meanwhile, the crowd gives former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr a huge ovation. Wolverines fans have to miss him right now.
8:17: LeFevour again throws into coverage, but hits Joe Bockheim right in stride for 28 yards. Heck of a throw.
8:14: The defense is staying on its toes, though. FAU tries a flea flicker and almost has it intercepted. But a holding call puts it 10 yards back anyway.
8:08: Central almost put a good drive together, getting into FAU territory, but had to punt after an incompletion on third down. Bryan Anderson looks shaken up after a hit near the end zone. Things just do not look in sync right now for the Chippewas' offense.
8:01: FAU's Cortez Gent has three receptions for 42 yards early. That does not bode too well for CMU if he gets going.
7:59: This is what happens when you give teams too many early opportunities. FAU drives 66 yards on six plays, easily scoring on a one-yard touchdown run. Both teams looks a bit rusty early, but the Owls seem to be in gear on offense right now. The CMU crowd is quiet.
7:52: Just to clear something up... several CMU players have had the flu bug over the last week, including a couple offensive linemen. I'm told they are fine now, but who knows at this point whether that will have any repercussions on the football game.
7:50: Things are moving fast early in this game - and not the way ESPN was expecting. Linebacker Nick Bellore picks up a fumble in CMU territory. Then LeFevour throws an errant pass to Antonio Brown and has it picked off. FAU has the ball on its 36-yard line. There certainly is no shortage of defense in the first five minutes of this game.
7:42: ...but that basically was it. On fourth and one, quarterback Dan LeFevour fumbled the shotgun snap, forcing him to fall on it and concede to the Owls near midfield. I'm not sure if it was a concentration gaffe or what, but the ball was snapped just fine. It might have been premature.
7:41: Running back Ontario Sneed is making his last game count. 28 yards on his first run, toward midfield...
7:39: Quick three-and-out drive for Florida Atlantic, mainly because of pressure to quarterback Rusty Smith. Junior defensive end Frank Zombo made a great play on first down, tipping a screen pass while chasing Smith. Great start for the CMU defense.
7:34 p.m.: The game will be underway in a minute or two. There definitely is not as many people here as last year. The CMU crowd is here, as usual, but the FAU crowd is about as easy to find as Waldo in this place. (Like I said before, though, that's not surprising, considering few would travel from Florida to Michigan for Christmas)
Stay posted for live updates from today's Motor City Bowl game.