The Toledo Rockets travel up US-23 to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where they will face the Eagles of Eastern Michigan in Rynearson Stadium. Both teams are 5-3 overall heading into this contest, but Toledo currently holds an edge in their MAC record, sitting at 3-1, while EMU sits at 2-2.
This makes winning tantamount to EMU to keep pace in the division, as a win would essentially secure them control of their destiny if they win out. Toledo, on the other hand, wants to strengthen its grip on the division, and a win vs. EMU would give them a good tiebreaker.
On offense, the Rockets score an average of 37 points per game, average 194 yards per game on the ground and 213 yards in the air. They have thrown nine interceptions and have fumbled the ball 6 times. Their turnover rates in the games themselves tend to fluctuate; of the team’s nine interceptions, seven have come from two games, both losses.
Under normal circumstances, I would expect Dequan Finn to lead the offense. He has an almost 60 percent completion rate for 204 yards per game. He also the teams leading rusher by averaging 65 yards per game. He has thrown all nine of the Rockets’ interceptions though, with several of them being true headscratchers.
We’re unsure of his status going into this game, as he took a hard hit on the last play of the game vs. Buffalo and could be injured. If Finn can’t go, passing duties may fall to Tucker Gleason. He is 6-of-13 so far for a total of 67 yards in five games this season. As far as actual rushers, the Rockets are led by Jacquez Stuart who averages 65 yards per game. The two leading Rocket receivers are Jerjuan Newton and DeMeer Blankumsee.
The Eagles score an average of 27 points per game. On the ground, they average 140 yards per game and in the air, they average 217 yards per game. They have thrown nine interceptions between two quarterbacks and have six fumbles.
I would expect the Eagles to be led by Taylor Powell but he might still be hurt, so the quarterback duties will fall to Austin Smith. Taylor Powell is more of a traditional passer, while Austin Smith adds another wrinkle to the offense with his legs. Provided he is healthy, rushing duties should fall to Samson Evans. If he is not healthy, expect Darius Boone and/or Jaylon Jackson to take the ball. The Eagles have a multitude of receivers, but I expect Hassan Beydoun and Tanner Knue to have big games as possession-types.
Other than in scoring offense, the paper match-up shows two teams are operating at fairly even levels of play.
On defense, the Rockets have held their opponents to an average of 27 points per game. Their rushing defense has allowed 163 yards per game and their passing defense has allowed 200 yards in the air. They have seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries. They have a total of 14 sacks. The Eagles defense has allowed 30 points per game, 165 yards on the ground and 217 yards in the air. They have four interceptions and four fumble recoveries. The defense has been getting better though. I would say the Rockets have a slight edge here.
The two teams seem fairly evenly matched on offense but Toledo has an edge in scoring. Toledo’s defense seems a little better but Eastern Michigan has made some adjustments and has shown improvement.
With that being said, I feel like the team that controls the ball better will be the one to emerge victorious. In that department, both teams are evenly matched, but Eastern has been showing better ball control in the past couple of games. Toledo is currently favored but Eastern is playing at home. I expect a good match with both teams’ title hopes on the line.
The game starts at noon Eastern time will be nationally broadcast on ESPNU. A valid cable subscription is required. Those tuning in on the radio can turn the dial to WEMU-FM in the Ypsilanti area or find the stream online for an EMU-centric listening experience.