The Eagles are playing in their first bowl game in 29 years. The Monarchs are playing in their first bowl game ever. Not bad for a team that just started playing football again in 2009, after a 69 year hiatus.
Maybe in power 5 land bowl games are meaningless, but this game means quite a lot. On one side, it’s a reward for turning around a program, and on the other it’s a validation of a starting one.
The football will be good, too. Eastern Michigan has been all over the place this season. They are in the middle of the MAC in most team stats, but at times they have looked really good in every phase. They played great defense and ran the ball well against Toledo in a loss. For most of the season, quarterback Brogan Roback has played well, but he had a couple of clunkers, in the loss to Toledo and again in a loss to Northern Illinois.
Defensively, they have looked good at times, but have had some clunkers there, too.
If each unit plays to their ability, Eastern Michigan is a complete and talented team.
With the long time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, This game is going to be telling how this team moves forward. If they put it together and play Old Dominion tough, then I look for them to continue the success into 2017. If they don’t, then I look for them to head back to their less than mediocre ways.
Old Dominion has put together a really good football team in a short amount of time.
They are led by senior quarterback David Washington. He started his career at QB, then switched to wide receiver, then moved back to quarterback. His sacrifice paid off, because he is having a great season. He has passed for 28 touchdowns, and only thrown 4 picks.
The running backs are led by Ray Lawry and Jeremy Cox. Lawry has 1122 yards on the season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Cox has added 685 yards, giving the Monarchs a quality rushing attack.
Defensively, they only give up 27.8 points a game, and are especially stingy against the pass. The play of the defense is big reason why after dropping 2 out of their first three games, the Monarchs were able to win 8 of their next 9.
I expect this game to be a highly competitive contest between two highly motivated teams. I’ll be tuning in to ESPN at 1 pm on Friday to watch, of that you can be sure.