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2023 MAC Football Week 6 Game Preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Ball State Cardinals

Twp teams who suffered losses to start the league year meet at The Factory to try and get back on the right track.

James H. Jimenez

Eastern Michigan returns to the friendly confines of Rynearson Stadium, where they will face the Ball State Cardinals. The Eagles are coming off a 26-23 loss against Central Michigan on the road last week, falling to 2-3 overall (0-1 Mid-American Conference.)

The Cardinals, meanhwile, are coming off a 42-24 loss against Western Michigan, with an overall record of 1-4 (0-1 MAC.)

Eastern Michigan scores an average of 16.2 points per game while allowing 22.4 points per game. They are averaging 123 yards per game on the ground and 137 yards per game in the air. The Eagles aerial attack has been led by Austin Smith, who has been averaging 128 of those yards in the air. He has been supplemented in one game by Ike Undengwu. Austin Smith has thrown three picks and Ike Undengwu has thrown two picks. The Eagles have only fumbled the ball once.

On the ground, the Eagles have split duties by their running backs Samson Evans and Jaylon Jackson. Both average around 50 yards per game. Tanner Knue has been the receiver with the most yards (187) so far, featuring in last week’s game vs. CMU for seven catches, 68 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, the Eagles have 24.5 tackles for losses with nine of those being sacks. They have allowed 221 yards per game on the ground and 192 yards per game in the air. Of note is defensive back Bennett Walker, with three interceptions and defensive lineman Mikah Coleman with 3 sacks. The Eagles have five interceptions and two fumble recoveries overall.

Ball State has scored an average of 17.8 points per game and have allowed 35.6 points per game. They are averaging 104 yards on the ground while allowing 123 yards per game on the ground. In the air, they average 196 yards per game while allowing 275 yards per game.

The Cardinal offense is split between true freshman Kadin Semonza and graduate transfer Layne Hatcher. Both average around 110 yards per game in the air. Semonza, who started the majority of the non-conference season, has five picks while Layne Hatcher has none. Hatcher started BSU’s last contest, and is likely to start once again vs. Eastern Michigan. The Cardinal rushing attack is led by Marquez Cooper who averages 63 yards per game.

The defense has 20 tackles for loss with eight of those being sacks. They have three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

If I look at the numbers, Eastern Michigan should be able to right the ship against Ball State. I am hoping that Eastern Michigan will unleash its passing game while opening up it’s running game.

The ace in the hole for the Eagles is its special teams. Mitchell Tomasek averages 46 yards per punt and has the ability to flip the field when necessary. Jesus Gomez has put a field goal in from 55 yards and is capable of more, even despite his miss last week vs. CMU.

I’m still not going to make a prediction on the score other than I think Eastern Michigan will win.

The game starts at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and can be listened to on WEMU-FM, with exclusive stremaing coverage on ESPN+.