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2022 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Game Preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. San Jose State Spartans

Can Eastern Michigan win its first bowl game in over 30 years?

Coach Creighton
Can Coach Creighton get over the Bowl hump?
Kenneth Bailey

I was pretty happy when it was announced that Eastern Michigan would face San Jose State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and then amazed to find out that this would be only the second time that Eastern Michigan would play San Jose State.

I would have thought that Eastern Michigan would have tried to schedule a rematch with them at some point in the last 35 years, but then again, San Jose State may not want to remember why Eastern Michigan would be interested in that rematch.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, after all.

Eastern Michigan enters the game at 8-4 and are the MAC West Division Co-Champions, missing the MAC Championship game by virtue of head-to-head tie breakers. The San Jose State Spartans are 7-4, with a second place in the Mountain West Conference’s West Division.

The two teams actually have a mutual opponent this season, in the form of Western Michigan. San Jose State beat them by a score of 34-6 in San Jose. Eastern Michigan beat them by a score of 45-23 in Kalamazoo. I only provide that information as a point of reference as I don’t entirely believe in the transitive property in sports. However, based on that point of reference, it should be an interesting game.

The Spartans will likely be led by quarterback Chevan Cordiero who played in every one of their games this season. He has a 61 percent completion rate for an average of 262 yards per game, with 20 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. The San Jose State running game is lead by Kairee Robinson, who averages 63 yards per game and has ten touchdowns. The San Jose quarterback adds another wrinkle to the game, averaging 20 yards per game on the ground and has eight rushing touchdowns. There are two main receiving targets for the Spartans, with Elijiah Cooks (who averages 89 yards per game) and Justin Lockhart (with an average of 51 yards per game) taking the majority of receptions.

Eastern Michigan has not one, but two capable quarterbacks in the form of Taylor Powell and Austin Smith. With the long delay between the end of the season and this game, I would expect to see Taylor Powell back in the saddle, as his end-of-season form was excellent. He has a 65 percent completion rate and averages 228 yards per game. He has thrown seven interceptions, but many of those were earlier in the season and he has been pretty solid for the rest of the season. The Eagles rushing attack is led by Samson Evans who averages 98 yards per game. His 13 rushing touchdowns are amongst the top of the charts int the Mid-American Conference. Eastern Michigan does a fairly good job of distributing the ball amongst its receivers, with Hassan Beydoun (47 receptions, 451 yards, four touchdowns) and Tanner Knue (42 receptions, 592 yards, nine touchdowns) leading the charge.

Of special note on defense for EMU is EDGE rusher Jose Ramirez, who was named to the second-team All-American squad on the back of his 12 sacks.

Eastern Michigan seeks their first bowl win since the last game between these two squads in 1987. It will be their fifth appearance in the postseason under head coach Chris Creighton, and their sixth appearance in program history. EMU is 1-4 in their prior attempts.

San Jose State is looking for their first bowl win since 2015, when they beat Georgia State in the Cure Bowl. This will be their second appearance in a bowl game under Brent Brennan, and 10th overall in school history. They are 5-4 in their prior appearances.

Based on this information, I expect to see a good game. San Jose State is favored by 4.5 points per DraftKings, but EMU knows how it is to play as an underdog, with several upset victories or covers throughout the 2022 campaign.