The Eastern Michigan Eagles travel to DeKalb, Illinois where they will face off against the Northern Illinois Huskies. Both teams have a path to bowl eligibility but that bowl eligibility but that path goes through each other. At 5-5, Eastern Michigan only needs to win one more game to eligible but given the intricacies of things, I think they will need to win both of their remaining games to actually make it to a bowl.
With a 4-6 record, Northern Illinois has to win both of their remain games just to be eligible, because this may be the first year where the bowl spots will be filled by eligible teams. However, given their MAC record, they still have an outside shot to repeat their trip to Detroit.
If you look at both teams on paper, they are fairly evenly matched.
Eastern Michigan has an edge in their passing game and Northern Illinois has a slight edge in their running game. On defense, Eastern Michigan has a slight edge as they end up sacking the quarterback more often. Eastern Michigan also has an edge in that they force more turnovers.
On offense, Eastern Michigan will be led by Mike Glass III. He has a 65% completion percentage for 249 yards per game. He has thrown eight picks however. The leading rusher is Shaq Vann who has quietly gotten his average up to 70 yards per game. If the Eagles can continue that, I expect them to have a good game.
One of the strong points of the Eagles is their receivers. They have three with roughly equal numbers in the form of Mathew Sexton, Quian Williams and Arthur Jackson III. I think Eastern Michigan will probably take to the air again.
On defense, expect to see a very aggressive defense from the Eagles. They have Turan Rush with five sacks, Kobie Beltram with two fumble recoveries and Brody Hoying with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. They have sacked opponent’s quarterbacks a total of 20 times. They have also intercepted eight passes.
The Northern Illinois offense is led by quarterback Ross Bowers (although Marcus Childers, the backup, does come in for certain packages on third-and-short, and has had great success with it so far). Bowers has a 58% completion percentage for 238 yards per game. He has also thrown eight interceptions. Their run game is led by Tre Harbinson who averages 90 yards per game They also have three receivers with roughly equal numbers in the form Mitch Brinkman, Danie Crawford and Cole Tucker.
The Huskie leading tackler is Mykel Williams with 77 tackles and four of those for losses. Also of note is Marshe Terry with three fumble recoveries. In total the Huskies have twelve sacks, four interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
With both teams evenly matched, I think it will come down to the team with the better breaks. Given the Eastern Michigan defense, I think they do a better job of creating their own breaks. Looking at respective records, this game represents the best chance for Eastern Michigan to break their eleven game losing streak. But looking at recent history, I expect Northern Illinois to do the unexpected.
The game will be aired on Tuesday night on ESPNU and starts at 7:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.