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What We Learned from Eastern Michigan’s 31-24 win over Kent State

The loss against Toledo stings harder after a great performance vs. Kent State.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Eastern Michigan at Kent State
Eastern Michigan’s defense gets better.
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I have one main takeaway from the game against Kent State: given the last three games of Eastern Michigan’s schedule, the loss against Toledo really stings.

I saw the games after Toledo as very winnable for the Eagles. With what happened in the rest of the division, had Eastern Michigan held on for the last two minutes of the Toledo game, they would currently be the team making plans for the MAC Championship.

Granted, the game Friday against Central Michigan is not a gimme but given the way Eastern Michigan has been playing versus the way Central Michigan has been playing, Eastern Michigan could have finished the season on a four-game winning streak. It hurts, because it feels in part like one of the greatest seasons in EMU history won’t be rewarded the way it could have been.

Anyway, they can’t have that two minutes back, and there’s still a lot to play for, with the Michigan MAC Trophy on the line on Black Friday and a bowl game after that.

After some time away from the game, what is there to learn from their result over Kent State?

Taylor Powell was a good pickup

Taylor Powell went 30-of-39 for 315 yards on short notice vs. Kent State. He threw for three touchdowns and had no turnovers in the game, which had been part of the reason why he was benched in favor of Austin Smith earlier in the season.

It’s a shame that he wont be coming back next year because I think he woudl be a great piece to have on the sideline or on the field for an Eastern Michigan who could be contending next year.

Kent State is not that bad

When I looked at the records for the game, I noted that the numbers behind Kent State weren’t too bad. Then I looked at their game record and a couple scores flip by a touchdown, Kent State could have been 6-3 instead of 3-6. Their offensive attack vaulted them to a MAC title game last season, and a step back in experience was clearly apparent all season.

KSU jumped out to a quick lead against EMU, catching the defense off-guard with their tempo and litany of offensive weapons. But once they were knocked out of that gameplan, the defense had a hard time catching up, creating a deficit fairly quickly.

It’s a problem they’ve faced all year, and unlike last season, when they had more experience, the Flashes just have not lived up to those moments this season. It’s nothing to be sad about, they’ve got a pretty young team currently.

With a year under their belt, they might get back to their expectations and be in contention in 2023.

Eastern Michigan needs a killer instinct.

Sometimes it seems like Eastern Michigan doesn’t have the ability to put a game away.

Like I said above, if they had finished out the Toledo game, they would be looking at playing in Detroit for the Championship. This game nearly got away from them in similar fashion this week, as Kent State was able to mount a comeback late. Same could have been said in the Akron game and even the Ball State game to a certain extent.

Not sure what it is exactly which makes winning hard for Eastern at points, but it seems like EMU turtles up and gets too conservative, rather than dance with the girl they brought to prom. If they had that finishing mentality, this could be a very different team.

This should have been Eastern’s year

Eastern Michigan is pretty stocked with graduate students. A good chunk of their offensive line is graduate students or seniors and I think a good deal of their success was built on that. Many of their star defensive players are the same. They’ve got some decent players in the pipeline but I think this year was their shot.

Especially with how the season played out, there was no one especially dominant team, with lots of games decided by one score or less in conference play. A play here or a play there and the table could look completely different for a team like EMU. Now they face a refresh as other teams are getting that experience for 2023 by playing their youngsters in 2022.

I still hate weeknight games.

The exposure is nice for the teams but it doesn’t make for a good fan experience. It’s hard to go to the games when they start at night. I wish there was a good balance but for better or worse, I think these games are going to stick around for a while.

The MAC has quite a bit of parity

The MAC has been chock-full of parity this season, with every team save the Ohio Bobcats sitting on two league losses. Every game seems to come down to the wire for the most part save for the occasional blowout as well, showing there’s a lot of parity to be found in the MAC in 2022.

The MAC East is the best example of this, as the division could be decided on Tuesday or Saturday, depending on the results of two different games, going right down to the closing bell of the regular season to figure out.

The MAC West was decided a few weeks ago, but that was more a scheduling quirk than anything; Toledo had the fortune of a good start and getting their tiebreaker games early against the teams which happened to ultimately be competing with them. The division itself has been black-and-blue, with the division leader decided by 10 points combined on two games.

Talk about evenly matched.

While that is good for competition and the entertainment value, it’s difficult to know if it’s ultimately good for the MAC’s reputation, as it doesn’t allow teams to stand out. Oh well, that’s how seasons go sometimes.

EMU faces CMU for a Black Friday tilt at noon Eastern time, while Kent State tries to spoil Buffalo’s MAC East and bowl hopes all at once in a Saturday afternoon match scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern.