The Eastern Michigan Eagles head back to the friendly confines of Rynearson Stadium where they will square off against the Black Knights of Army. Eastern Michigan is coming off their 42-20 vanquishing of Ball State. The Black Knights required two overtimes to defeat Miami by a score of 31 to 30.
Now, I’m not really a fan of the transitive opponent but both teams have a common opponent. The Eagles lost to the Buffalo Bulls by a score of 35-28. The Black Knights faced those same Bulls and defeated them by a score of 42-13. They both faced them at roughly the same point in the season. But still, I’m only mentioning it as an item of note because it still depends on how well they match up against each other.
The Eastern Michigan offense is led by Tyler Wiegers who is currently 107 for 162 in passing with 158 yards per game. He has only been intercepted once per game. However, he doesn’t bring a needed spark to the running game with his feet. While Eastern Michigan is showing an average of 145 yards per game, many of those yards come from injured quarterback Mike Glass III. After him, Eastern Michigan’s leading rusher is Shaq Vann who averages 57 yards per game. In the passing game, Tyler Wiegers likes to distribute the ball pretty well. Blake Banham averages 1 more yard than the next player on the list, Arthur Jackson.
If there is one thing the Eastern Michigan defense is doing pretty well this year is creating turnovers. They have seven interceptions and six fumble recoveries. The defense is lead by Kyle Rachwal who has 8 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He also has two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Also of note is Maxx Crosby who currently has 4.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss. As I’ve noted before, the Eastern Michigan defense may be vulnerable to the option. If they stay disciplined, they may be able to hold off the vaunted Army ground game. If not, it could be a long night for the Eagles. Eastern Michigan has held their opponents to 24 points per game.
So far, Army has averaged 318 yards per game on the ground. Their leading rusher is Kelvin Hopkins with 83 of those yards per game. He is also their leading quarterback who has gone 27 for 56 with three interceptions for 100 yards per game. He is followed on the rushing chart by Darnell Woolfolk with 66 yards per game. If there is a chink in the Black Knights armor, it’s that they have fumbled the ball 7 times.
On defense, Army is pretty stingy against the run. They have held their opponents to an average of 106 yards per game. That isn’t particularly helpful to a ground game that sometimes sputters. They have also held their opponents to 20 points per game. The defense is led by James Nachtigal. If there is another ray of hope, they don’t force many turnovers.
So what does all of this mean? Well, I think if Eastern Michigan can remain disciplined and force some fumbles, they will have a good night. They seem to do better against the pass than the run but maybe they will do better if they only have worry about one thing. I think Eastern Michigan will be able to take to the air and find the end zone. If the Buffalo games are a guide, I don’t see Eastern Michigan winning but I’m an optimist. I’ll predict that it will be Eastern Michigan 28 to Army’s 21. And that means that the Army cheerleaders will do 42 pushups.