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2017 Week 4 Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Ohio looks to hold top spot in the MAC East, while EMU looks to prove they’re a MAC West contender.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio Bobcats (2-1) come into Ypsilanti to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-0). The Eagles upset the Bobcats 27-20 in Ohio last season. Ohio will be looking for revenge on Saturday. The Bobcats are coming off a big win 42-30 against Kansas last Saturday. On the other side, the Eagles had a week off last week but won their Week 2 matchup against Rutgers 16-13.

The Bobcats have a new face at quarterback this year. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke has taken charge of the Bobcats offense after previously splitting time with former starting quarterback Quinton Maxwell, who has taken over five snaps in all three games.

Rourke has been unbelievable in 2017. The 6’2” quarterback has 435 passing yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Not to mention, Rourke boasts a 162.1 quarterback rating. Rourke will look to throw the ball a little more on Saturday, considering the sophomore has only thrown the ball 49 times this year.

Eastern Michigan’s quarterback play has been solid as well. Senior Brogan Roback has thrown for 527 yards, one touchdown, and one interception thus far in the 2017 campaign. Roback helped the Eagles jumpstart their season with two wins against Charlotte and Rutgers. The latter of which was the program’s first win against a Power Five school in team history.

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Roback will come out on Saturday looking to repeat what they did to the Bobcats just a year ago.

Other than solid quarterback play, Eastern Michigan’s defense has been extremely dominant. They are allowing just 10.0 points a game, and have allowed only two touchdowns in two games. This should change on Saturday considering Ohio’s offense is a drastic step up from their two prior opponents.

Ohio’s defense, on the other hand, has been struggling a little. In three games, the Bobcats are allowing 24.7 points per game. Ohio has allowed nine touchdowns, but have played better offensive units than Eastern Michigan. Ohio is sure missing edge rusher Tarell Basham right now. Basham was the MAC’s sack leader in 2016 and is now with the Indianapolis Colts.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Rourke will be without his top target Papi White, who is out with a hand injury for a few weeks. The rest of the offensive load will be on wide receiver Brendan Cope and running back A.J. Ouellette. Ouellette has been able to alleviate some of the pressure off of Nathan Rourke with some efficient running. The Ohio native has a 6.2 yards per carry average and has scored a touchdown in each of their last two games.

Eastern Michigan’s run game has been absent in 2017. Running back Shaq Vann has rushed for a mere 157 yards on 39 carries and no touchdowns. One player who has continued their offensive consistency this season is wide receiver Sergio Bailey II. Bailey had a big game against Rutgers, catching five passes for 107 yards.

Eastern Michigan will be put to the test this week against a tough Ohio squad. The Eagles look to continue their undefeated mark, while the Bobcats try to hold their top spot in the MAC East.

Game Info:

Time and location: Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. EST at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI

TV/Streaming: ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app (check your local cable provider for more information)

Weather (as of publication): 85 degrees and sunny, winds at 3 MPH, no chance of rain at kickoff.

Odds (as of publication): EMU is a 1.5 point home favorite, essentailly making this game a toss-up, according to The over/under is currently at 53 points.