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2016 MAC Football Preview: Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan

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The 5-2 Eagles head to Kalamazoo to take on the 7-0 Broncos in maybe the best matchup of the series.

It would take alot to see this happen
Kenneth Bailey

The Eastern Michigan Eagles travel westward on I-94 to meet the Western Michigan Broncos at Waldo Stadium. Both teams are having pretty good seasons but the Broncos are doing much better. I wasn’t feeling well last year, so I didn’t get to see the night game at Rynearson Stadium. I didn’t feel much better after watching it. In 2014, I traveled over to Waldo Stadium. I arrived on the field in time to capture Western running the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The game was pretty much over by halftime. The 2013 game featured an Eagles team under interim coach Stan Parrish after the dismissal of Ron English, that game ended up being a 35-32 barn burner with the Eagles emerging on top.

The Eagles can’t let this happen.
Kenneth Bailey

When Eastern Michigan is on offense

Based on their 7-0 record, Western Michigan is coming into this game running on all cylinders. They are scoring a little over 44 points per game while allowing only 17 points per game from their opponent. Eastern Michigan has been scoring a little over 31 points per game while allowing their opponents to score a little over 28 points per game.

I think Eastern Michigan can help their cause by establishing a running game. To say that their run game is inconsistent is an understatement. They have had two games where they’ve rushed for less than 100 yards and four games where they’ve rushed for more than 150 yards. The loss of Shaq Vann hasn’t helped their cause. Ian Eriksen and Breck Turner are pretty good backs but they’ve been inconsistent as well. Maybe they can get going against Western Michigan but that seems to be a tall order as they’ve only allowed 130 yards per game on the ground.

Maybe they can get this going?
Kenneth Bailey

I think Eastern Michigan’s chances lie in their passing game. So far they’ve averaged 270 yards per game. Current starter Brogan Roback has only thrown 1 interception in the two and a half games that he’s played. Eastern Michigan’s offensive line has only allowed 5 sacks in 7 games. They are going up against a pass defense that has allowed 207 yards per game. So maybe, especially since Roback has three legitimate targets.

Can Brogan Roback remain steady?
Kenneth Bailey

When Eastern Michigan is on Defense

Eastern Michigan also has to continue their improvement on defense to have a chance. Their rush defense has improved considerably compared to last year. So far, they have allowed 139 yards per game. They are facing a rushing attack that yields 256 yards per game. I figure if they can keep that under 200, they have a chance.

Eastern Michigan’s passing defense is still a little suspect though. They’ve allowed close to 270 yards per game. Western Michigan has one of the best (if not the best) receivers in the game in the form of Corey Davis. I suspect he will be testing that defense pretty well. The Bronco passing game has not given up an interception this year. If Eastern Michigan can change that, who knows.

I have a feeling that Eastern Michigan is going to have to aggressive on defense but if they are too aggressive, they are going to get picked apart. Still, they’ve have forced almost 2 turnovers per game and those turnovers could help in a close game.

Don’t let this happen
Kenneth Bailey

Conclusions

When I wrote up the preview for the Toledo game, I said pretty much the same things I said for this game. I honestly didn’t think Eastern had much of a chance against Toledo but they managed to keep the game close for three quarters. The momentum shifted on the play in the picture above and the following play where Eastern Michigan bobbled and lost the kickoff. The game could have gone differently had those things not happened. If Eastern gets a couple of breaks, they could end up winning. That being said, I’m going to predict that the Broncos will row their boat to the tune of 45 to 28.

Can Eastern Michigan stop this from happening?
Kenneth Bailey