FIU played bowl wrecker to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, beating them 38-28 in South Florida. After losing a close game to Old Dominion last week in Virginia and saying goodbye to its bowl dreams, FIU improved to 4-7 while MTSU fell to 5-5.
Middle Tennessee State led the game in the first half 21-17, while the Panthers outscored MTSU 21-7 in the second half. FIU had help from tight end Jonnu Smith who was responsible for three of FIU's touchdowns, a career high for him. The Panthers were also helped by running back Anthon Samuel who ran for 116 yards and a score. In the end, the FIU defense, which combined for five turnovers and three sacks, won the game. The defense had three interceptions including a 79-yard return for a touchdown by linebacker Davison Colimon, his first of the season.
The highlight of the game for MTSU was the first quarter when they lead FIU 14-3. After, the game went downhill with a rough second half. MTSU quarterback Austin Grammer threw for 286 yards and three scores, but had three costly interceptions late in the game. The FIU defense stopped the rushing attack of MTSU, holding leading rusher Jordan Parker to 30 yards off 12 rushes.
MTSU needs a win against FAU at home next week or a win in El Paso against UTEP in order to keep their bowl dreams alive. On the other side FIU is playing for pride for the rest of the season; with one game left next week against a North Texas team who is fighting for bowl eligibility, FIU looks to ruin their post season dream.
Player of the Game has to go to the entire FIU second half defense. FIU forced four turnovers in a half against a team that only gives up a little over one turnover a game. FIU's defense stopped MTSU's rushing attack that has averaged 206 yards rushing a game, allowing only 141 yards this game. FIU stopped the Blue Raiders air attack that gave MTSU the lead in the first half by forcing three interceptions in the second half, thus helping FIU pull away and win.