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2016 MAC Football Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Ohio’s defensive line will face its toughest test yet

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Michigan is off to a 4-2 start for the first time since 1995, the same year the DVD was created.

The Eagles have largely benefitted from the play of their stout offensive line who is averaging less than one sack allowed per game. This line will be challenged though by the nation’s top pass-rushing defense, the Ohio Bobcats. Led by Tarell Basham and Quentin Poling, Ohio is sacking quarterbacks more than four times per game.

That style of game will not bode well for the Eagles, as both teams are pass heavy with Eastern Michigan averaging 34 pass attempts per contest. On the other sideline, Ohio has attempted 36 passes a game.

On paper, this could be the most evenly matched contest in college football this week. Both teams have scored 194 points, and both have averaged 426 yards of offense per game. Both teams have allowed 5.1 yards per play and have 79 percent field goal success rates. Simply put, I wouldn’t recommend betting on this game.

Eastern Michigan and Ohio are similar on the injury front, as both schools have lost their top running backs for the season.

At home, Ohio is the favored to win but will need to have big games out of both Greg Windham and Sebastian Smith. Eastern Michigan has a top 50 rushing defense but has allowed over 260 yards per game through the air, meaning Windham could have a huge game throwing the ball.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After a slow start nursing a groin injury, Smith has come on and put up 76 yards a game receiving to compliment Ohio’s three 200+ yard rushers (Bo Hardy sits fourth on the team at 198).

In order for Eastern Michigan to win, they will need to get the ball out quick and one of the many Eastern receivers will need to step up and have a big game. The Eagles have no receivers over 60 yards per game but have six different wideouts with over 20 average yards receiving.

With the maturation of Ohio’s secondary and the front seven’s ability to rush the quarterback, Eastern Michigan will likely struggle offensively and Ohio should be able to move to 5-2 on the season.

Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. from Peden Stadium in Athens.