The Eastern Michigan Eagles take their 5-4 overall record and head over on the Ohio Turnpike to face the 1-8 Akron Zips for a cross-division tilt.
Eastern Michigan, at 2-3 in MAC play, still has a slim chance of making the MAC Championship, but a close loss in the final moments to Toledo makes that very hard to do without a lot of help. They’ll need to win out to even have a chance at Detroit... but they only need one more win to clinch a bowl bid.
As the only team in the conference remaining to never make a title game appearance, Eastern Michigan is likely frustrated to let such an opportunity slip away, but there’s a good chance for them to take out their frustrations and get something out of the season.
The Eagles score an average of 27 points per game, and allow an average of 30 points per game. Their passing game is lead by Taylor Powell who has a 62 percent completion rate and averages 205 yards per game, but Austin Smith could also get looks in certain packages as a read-option QB if EMU struggles to move the ball. EMU have allowed 219 yards in the air on average. The leading target for the Eagles is Tanner Knue, who averages 53 yards per game.
Eastern Michigan still distributes the ball fairly evenly between the pass and the run. On the ground, they average 138 yards per game with the bulk of that being carried by Samson Evans. And they have allowed 162 yards per game in rushing. On defense, they have 14 sacks, four interceptions and six fumble recoveries. Their offense has allowed 25 sacks, thrown 10 interceptions and has fumbled the ball six times. Turnover margin is definitely an area for improvement, but I imagine we won’t see too much more the rest of the season.
The Zips sit at only 1-8, and their initial stats don;t show a lot to be impressed by, as they score an average of 19 points per game and allow 37 points per game, but a closer looks show that Akron is a punchy team in league play which has played in a lot of close contests.
Quarterback D.J. Irons has a 67 per completion rate for an average 279 yards per game and also sits amongst the top of the leaders on the rushing charts. The Zip defense has allowed an average 255 yards per game and has five picks. The Zips are pretty good at distributing the ball between a trio of transfer receivers in Shocky Jacques-Louis, Alex Adams and Daniel George, with each receiver having led their team in receptions, yards and/or scores at least once this season. On the ground, they average 73 yards per game between two backs in Cam Wiley and Clyde Price III, with Irons also a major contributor before sack yards, averaging 33 yards per game on his own.
If there’s a weakeness for Akron, it’s turnovers. The Zips have fumbled the ball 11 times and they have forced two fumbles by their opponents, while only pulling in five interceptions against six picks tossed. A fumble on a handoff infamously lost them a cross-division game vs. CMU a few weeks back, showing the Zips still have a lot to learn about closing games late.
My instincts tell me that Eastern Michigan should win this game but my instincts have been proven wrong a couple times this season. As I said in the opening, Eastern Michigan has to win this game in order to remain in the hunt for the MAC Championship.
The game starts on November 8th at 7:00 P.M. and will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.