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Week 13 Preview: Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan

A rivalry game to determine postseason bowl destinations, you say? Count us in.

Swoop is excited to be bowling, but he wants more.
Kenneth Bailey

After what appeared to be a promising start to their season, the Chippewas travel to Ypsilanti with a 6-5 overall record and a 3-4 MAC record in the Conference. The Eagles hold a similar record. Of course, like every game we cover, it’s about more than the wins and losses:

When the Chippewas have the ball:

Chippewa quarterback Cooper Rush after throwing a pass
Kenneth Bailey

The Chippewa offense is lead by senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who is 233-for-381 with twelve interceptions. He averages 276 yards per game. The Chippewas score an average of 28.3 points per game.

The Chips are facing a defense that allows 31.2 points per game. The Central Michigan ground game is lead by Devon Spalding who nets about 72 yards per game, although Jahray Hayes provides a little extra oomph as a power runner in special packages. Overall, the Chippewas average 118 yards per game on the ground.

They are facing an Eagles defense that allows 168 yards per game (although last week was really the only game where they broke down against what was an equal match on paper). Cooper Rush’s favorite target since the injury to Jesse Kroll in week four is Corey Willis, who averages 82 yards per game.

The Chippewas face an Eagle defense that has forced almost two turnovers per game. The leading tacklers for Eastern Michigan are Jason Beck and Kyle Rachwal, who also grabbed a key INT last week. Pat O’Connor has managed to get seven sacks this season, but did end up dealing with a nagging injury in the NIU game that might slow him down this coming week. If Central Michigan can get their passing game going, they ought to do well.

Devon Spalding almost finding the endzone.
Kenneth Bailey

When the Eagles have the ball.

I expect that Brogan Roback will be taking the reins in this game again.

So far, he has been 167-of-289 passing with only five picks despite a recent uptick in passing attempts. He averages about 254 yards per game.

The ground game will probably be led by Ian Eriksen again who is averaging 74 yards per game. Roback’s favorite target is Sergio Bailey but Antoine Porter isn’t too far behind. The Chippewas have given up 159 yards per game on the ground and 202 yards in the air on average per game.

The Chippewa defense leading tackler is Malik Fountain. Joe Ostman has found the quarterback eight times this season, and also forced a fumble and had three tackles for loss vs. Ohio almost week. CMU is efficient at causing trouble; they force almost two turnovers per game. They are facing an offensive line that has allowed almost one sack per game.

Brogan Roback setting up to pass.
Kenneth Bailey

What does all this mean?

Honestly, I’m hoping to see a Central-Eastern game of old. They used to be high scoring affairs. And based on the defensive stats for both teams, I almost expect that happen. If there is an x-factor, I think it is going to come down to the turnover battle. Eastern Michigan appears to have been better at this and I suspect that will make the difference.

So I’m going to go out on a limb for this game and predict a 35 to 31 score with Eastern Michigan emerging victorious.

How to watch the game?

According to the Eastern Michigan website, the game will be on ESPN3 but according to the Central Michigan website, it will be on ESPNU.

In either case, the game starts at 7:00 P.M. and will be at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI. You can always find the game on WEMU at 89.1 if you are in the area or wemu.org if you are not.

Currently the high on Tuesday is projected to be 42 but no rain or snow at least. Not bad weather but not good either. So enjoy.