FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) — Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 2-2, Western Michigan
2-1. Away Record: Eastern Michigan 0-5, Western Michigan 4-2. Neutral Record:
Eastern Michigan 0-0, Western Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern
Michigan 1-4, Western Michigan 4-1. Series Record: Western Michigan leads,
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos sit atop the cluttered standings in
the Mid-American Conference West Division, and will try to move closer into
title game contention as they battle the Eastern Michigan Eagles in a
conference bout at Waldo Stadium.
Western Michigan has won four consecutive games dating back to a one-point
overtime loss to Toledo in early October. The Broncos have been riding a wave
of momentum toward the regular season finish line, and could end up in the MAC
title game with wins and some luck.
Eastern Michigan, on the other hand, has lost three games in a row, including
an absolute stomping at the hands of Central Michigan last weekend, 38-7. The
Eagles last beat Buffalo back on Oct. 11, and haven’t put up more than 17
points in a game since.
The all-time series record favors Western Michigan, which owns the 29-18-2
all-time lead. But the Eagles took the most recent contest between the two
sides, 35-32, last season in Ypsilanti.
It appeared things may have been on the upswing for Eastern Michigan after the
team’s defeat of Buffalo several weeks ago, but that has since been proven to
be the outlier. The Eagles have dropped three straight contests to MAC
opposition, including a dismal 38-7 effort against CMU, which held the Eagles
scoreless through three quarters of play.
Rob Bolden got the start under center for Eastern Michigan, and completed just
7-of-19 passing for 76 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Athletic
dual-threat passer Reginald Bell saw some time, but attempted just two rushes
for a team-best 12 yards. The Eagles, who are averaging 14.3 ppg and 112.2
passing ypg, don’t have a quarterback on staff that has completed more than 53
percent of his passes.
The run game is where EMU typically likes to do most of its damage. The
quarterback Bell leads the team this season with 435 rushing yards and four
touchdowns, while Ryan Brumfield has scampered for 313 yards and four scores
of his own. The Eagles average 153 rushing ypg, but only got 21 against the
What hasn’t helped the Eagles this season is the team’s defense, which is
surrendering just over 38 ppg to opponents. Only once this season has Eastern
Michigan held an opponent to fewer than 20 points, and that effort still
resulted in a loss. The defense has recorded just nine sacks and 12 turnovers
gained, meaning defensive stops aren’t too frequent.
Linebacker Great Ibe heads the defense with an impressive 104 tackles through
nine games played, adding seven tackles for loss and a forced fumble to his
stat line. Lineman Pat O’Connor has been responsible for a solid majority of
the team’s sack total this season, having recorded 6.5 quarterback drops
behind the line of scrimmage with 11.5 total tackles for loss. Western
Michigan running back Jarvion Franklin will have to be wary of those two
Speaking of Franklin, the true freshman running back was at it again last
weekend, rushing for 182 yards and three touchdowns on his way to yet another
MAC West Division offensive player of the week award. Franklin has gained
13,30 yards and scored 22 times on the ground this season, which ranks fourth
and first in the entire FBS, respectively.
Franklin’s astounding season continues, piggybacking an offense that averages
457.1 offensive ypg and 34.6 ppg, just one year removed from a one-win
campaign. Franklin averages 147.8 rushing ypg, and is the primary contributor
to an offense gaining just shy of 200 rushing ypg.
Quarterback Zach Terrell has been an underrated part of the offense this
season, though. The second-year player has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 2,311
yards against just six interceptions. His 158 passer efficiency rating ranks
10th in the nation, while his 68.2 completion percentage is the seventh-best
in the country. Receiver Corey Davis has been on the other end of eight
Terrell touchdown passes.
Western Michigan’s defense was the root cause of some of the team’s losses
earlier in the season, but in the past four weeks the Broncos have developed a
solid foundation, and have held opponents to 21 points or less in the last
three contests. The 25.3 ppg statistic has dipped significantly over the past
few weeks, which is key for a team looking to make a move toward the MAC title
Grant DePalma has a team-high 80 tackles this season, and has registered seven
tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks. Combine his ability to get behind the line of
scrimmage with Trevor Ishmael (7.5 tackles for loss) and Richard Ash (6.5
tackles for loss), and Eastern Michigan might have to look to the air in order
to win. Donald Celsicar and Ronald Zamort have the defensive backfield locked
down if the Eagles do rely more on the pass.
Traveling across the state to take on an extremely hot Western Michigan squad
probably won’t turn out to be a good trip for Eastern Michigan. The team has a
bit of an identity crisis under center, and can’t seem to generate any offense
whatsoever. Western Michigan may already have more points than the Eagles can
put up by the time the first half ends.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 38, Eastern Michigan 13