Last year, the Eagles went 7-6 overall (5-3 MAC), good enough for a tie for second in the West Division and a berth in the Camelia Bowl. They ended up losing to Georgia Southern by a final score of 23-21.
So the important question heading into 2019 is: can Eastern get back to a bowl game?
Given that they only have five home games next year, that could be a pretty tall order. They also find themselves without Maxx Crosby and Jeremiah Harris.
They also lose a great deal of experience on their offensive line. Will their juniors and now seniors be able to step it up?
If they have one good thing going for them, their defensive line and backs are fairly experienced as are many of their players at the skill positions.
Five Games to Watch
August 31 at Coastal Carolina: Coastal Carolina is new to the FBS and had a 5-7 record last year. They just hired offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell. Those factors may combine for Eastern Michigan to start on a high note.
September 7 at Kentucky. This was supposed to be at Rynearson but Eastern Michigan opted for the money of a road game. If you will recall, Eastern Michigan nearly pulled off their first upset of an SEC team against this Kentucky team a couple seasons back. This year, the Wildcats are much improved, going 10-3 last year with a New Years Day Bowl victory over Penn State. It will be a tall order for Eastern Michigan to pull off the upset.
September 21 vs. Central Connecticut State. After playing three games on the road to open the season, their first home game will be against an FCS team that went 6-5 last year. FCS games have typically been good for EMU in recent years, so fans should be able to go home happy.
October 26 at Toledo. I like to think that Toledo is the yardstick of the MAC West. This game will be a good indicator of how far the Eagles have come.
November 19 at Northern Illinois. I like to think of Northern Illinois as the other yardstick. After a couple of close games, Eastern is due for a victory against the Huskies.
Three Players to Watch
A senior quarterback is always a good player to watch. Especially one as electrifying as Mike Glass III. In the eight games he played last year, he ran for 412 yards with 6 touchdowns. He was 72/117 in the air for 1024 yards and 9 touchdowns with only 1 pick. He seemed to provide a spark for the offense... when healthy, which will be the major question for him moving forward.
A senior defensive back is another good player to watch. He may not provide the excitement on defense that Maxx Crosby did but Vince Calhoun is a pretty solid player, and should lead the defensive backfield this season. He had 84 tackles including 2 for loss. He also had 3 interceptions.
Shaq Vann is a senior this year. His career has been hampered by injury, but when he's on, he's absolutely an exciting player to watch. Vann had a bit of a resurgence in 2018, tying a career-high in touchdowns (5) and running for a career-high number of attempts (135) despite being part of a committee.
Returning to a bowl game might be a tough road for Eastern Michigan with the outflow of potential pro talent, but I think they have a chance to beat their third Big Ten team in a row. They travel to Mount Pleasant but the Chippewas are under a new coach. They host the Broncos at Rynearson this year. I think if their offensive line can step up, they can put up some points.
Their defense should be fairly solid despite losing a couple of key players. With Neal Neathery, they will have a very disruptive defense again.
The main thing against them is that they only have 5 home games. They will have to take on the Road Warrior mentality if they are going to win. So as for a prediction, I will say anywhere from 5-7 to 7-5.