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Old Dominion Monarchs vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles Preview

Even though Old Dominion's football program is only a few years old, this is going to be a huge test for head coach Chris Creighton and his Eagles.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how people judge the performance on the field, the consensus amongst Eastern Michigan fans before the season started was that this team was going to be 1-1 as they travel to Norfolk, Virginia this weekend.

Over the summer, I wrote a preview on this game and said that the Eagles would come out on top 28-18. At the time, it was easy to feel more confident in EMU's on-field performance before anybody stepped on the field. But after a nail-biting win over Morgan State and being shutout video-game style against Florida raises a lot of doubts on this team.

Defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin's resume was very promising, but through two weeks, this Eagles defense is averaging 567 yards per game, which is last in the MAC. Against the pass (which Old Dominion is a pass-friendly football team), the Eagles let up 340.5 yards per game, 12th in the conference.

One way to help beat their pass game is to put pressure on the quarterback early and often enough for Taylor Heinicke to, well you know, mess up and throw it to the other team. Heinicke has completed 72 percent of his 89 pass attempts for 555 yards, an efficiency rate of 136.1. His top two targets are Zach Pascal and Antonio Vaughn, and together, they've caught 30 passes (47 percent of the team's receptions) for 347 yards and four touchdowns.

Last week, the Eagles were unable to pick up 100 yards on the ground as a team. That's unacceptable. There are three reliable running backs and a starting quarterback whose big upside is his running ability. Now that the nightmare in Gainesville is over, the Eagles still have to worry about this defense, which gives up 125 rushing yards per game.

I won't dive into the quarterback situation for this preview, because I hate running in circles. Reggie Bell is still EMU's starting quarterback and there's nothing more worth saying that hasn't been said already about unusual this situation is.

My new final prediction: Old Dominion 34 - Eastern Michigan 18.