It’s hard to believe we are at the end of the season already.
The Central Michigan Chippewas (4-7, 3-4 MAC) make the trek south on US-127 before heading east on I-96 and south on US-23 in order to face the Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-4, 4-3 MAC) at Rynearson Stadium on Friday.
The Eagles are coming off a 31-21 win against the Kent State Golden Flashes to pick up an all-important seventh victory. The Chippewas, meanwhile, are coming off 12-10 loss against the Western Michigan Broncos in a game that made the national news because of the snow. That game knocked them out of bowl contention.
The Chippewas’ quarterback situation is a bit of an unknown at present. Bert Emanuel Jr. has been the main man the last two weeks due to his rushing prowess, averaging 140 yards per game thus far. But there are two other signalcallers who also see time in the rotation. The team’s main passing threat is Daniel Richardson, who has a 56 percent completion rate and averages 181 yards per game. He has thrown 15 touchdowns and five interceptions all year. Jase Bauer, who has a 63 percent completion rate and averages 73 passing yards per game, is also a big running threat, with 294 yards and four touchdowns in the five games he’s played.
The running back who has played in the most games is Lew Nichols. In the eight games he has played in, he’s averaged 75 yards per game. He missed some games due to injuries, with Emanuel having to take the majority of the mantle in recent weeks. Marion Lukes, who has 275 yards and three rushing touchdowns as a spell back, returns from injury this week to shoulder the Chippewa running load after a stretch of time where CMU ran out of scholarship running backs.
Central seems pretty good at distributing the ball between their receivers, with Carlos Carriere (44 rec., 509 yards, two scores) the healthiest remaining starter at receiver on the field.
On offense, Central Michigan scores 25 points per game but on defense, while giving up 27 points per game. They gain an average of 160 yards per game on the ground but give up 149 yards per game. In the air they average 220 yards per game but give up about the same. They have given up seven interceptions and have four of their own. They have 18 fumbles versus six recovered, carrying one of the country’s worst turnover rates.
The Eagles main quarterback will likely be Taylor Powell this week. He has a 65 percent completion and averages 221 yards per game. Powell, a transfer from Troy University, had perhaps his best game as an Eagle last week, leading a double-digit comeback rally to win the game on short notice. Austin Smith, who has a 58 percent completion rate for 86 yards per game, is questionable to play after picking up an injury early in last week’s game vs. Kent State. Smith adds a running component,with keen awareness in the read-option game.
The Eastern Michigan rushing attack will be led Samson Evans, who has an average of 95 yards per game. He’s one of the best finishers in the MAC, with 12 rushing touchdowns on the season. Eastern Michigan distributes the ball pretty well through the air between Hassan Beydoun, Tanner Knue and Dylan Drummond.
Also of note is Jesus Gomez, who has kicked 12 field goals out of 14 attempts. He ties the school record for longest field goal at 55 yards. Eastern Michigan also has a fairly capable punter in Mitchell Tomasek who averages 44 yards per punt.
Eastern Michigan scores an average of 28 points per game and gives up an average 29 points per game. On the ground, they gain an average of 140 yards per game while giving up 158 yards per game. In the air, they have an average of 213 yards per game versus giving up 221 yards per game. Eastern Michigan has intercepted the ball 7 times, while they have been intercepted 11 times. They’ve fumbled six times versus seven recoveries.
This is another one I really hate to predict.
Central Michigan is within a touchdown per game of being 8-3 instead of 4-7, and have dealt with a lot of injuries. I don’t think their record really speaks for the caliber of play. They may be looking to avenge their loss against Western Michigan.
I’m not sure if Eastern Michigan can improve in their bowl choice, but it can’t hurt getting another win. Eastern Michigan will get the Michigan MAC trophy with a win. If EMU can accomplish that, it would be the first time that Coach Creighton has won it— and the first time EMU won the trophy outright since 2011. It would also be the third time they’ve won it, with retention scenarios in 2008 and 2012.
I think if Eastern Michigan can exploit the almost two fumbles per game by Central, they will win.