FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) — Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Toledo 5-1, Eastern Michigan 2-2. Away
Record: Toledo 2-3, Eastern Michigan 0-7. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, Eastern
Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 6-1, Eastern Michigan 1-6. Series
Record: Toledo leads, 30-11.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets aren’t finished yet, and will hope for a Mid-
American Conference title game appearance as they square off against the
Eastern Michigan Eagles in conference play Friday at Rynearson Stadium.
Toledo sits at 6-1 in the MAC West Division – tied with both Northern Illinois
and Western Michigan. NIU and WMU clash this weekend, both with MAC title
hopes. NIU needs a win to make it, owning the tiebreaker over Toledo. The
Rockets need a Western Michigan win and a victory over Eastern Michigan to get
to the conference championship. Toledo is coming off a big 27-20 win over
Bowling Green last week.
Eastern Michigan is, for all intents and purposes, finished. The Eagles sport
a 2-9 overall record with a dismal 1-6 ledger in conference play. They’ve lost
five straight games – all against MAC competition – with a 45-30 defeat at
Ball State the most recent.
The two teams have met 41 times on the field before, with this clash marked as
the 42nd. Toledo owns a commanding all-time series lead, 30-11, over the
Toledo’s offense is based on the run game, and it may have to be even more
this week depending on the health of quarterback Logan Woodside. The Rockets
average 254.2 rushing ypg, with 26 touchdowns this season coming via the
ground attack. Kareem Hunt missed some time earlier in the season due to
injury, but is back to full health and averaging 156.2 rushing ypg. He’s
scored 10 times and gained 1,250 yards on 151 carries (8.3-yard average).
Woodside has been steady in filling in for Phillip Ely, who went down earlier
this season with an ACL tear, throwing for 1,764 yards and 14 touchdowns. But
Woodside didn’t play the entire game last week because of an injury, and while
he’s expected back for the game against EMU, his status remains uncertain.
The receiving game for the Rockets largely falls on the hands of Alonzo
Russell, who has a team-best seven touchdown receptions with 628 yards on 45
catches. Corey Jones tops the squad with 62 receptions and 758 yards, adding
in four touchdowns to the mix. The Toledo passing game is certainly a threat,
especially in play action.
Toledo started off the season with a tough non-conference schedule, and games
against teams like Missouri and Cincinnati jacked up the team’s scoring
defense average. Entering the contest with Eastern Michigan, the Rockets are
allowing an average of 30.5 ppg to opponents, and are giving up 420.0
offensive ypg as well. It’s been three weeks since an opponent has scored more
than 27 points against the Rockets, and Eastern Michigan’s sub-par offense
isn’t much of a threat to find the end zone repeatedly.
Linebacker Junior Sylvestre leads Toledo with 88 tackles, adding in 8.5
tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries and five pass breakups
to his resume. Fellow linebacker Trent Voss has a team-best 10.5 tackles for
loss, and lineman Orion Jones chips in a team-high five sacks. They’ll be
tasked with containing athletic EMU quarterback Reginald Bell.
Bell hasn’t been able to help out too much for the Eagles, who average just
15.1 ppg this season (123rd in the FBS). In seven games this season, Bell has
passed for 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns against four interceptions. The
dual-threat signal caller has added a team-best 569 yards with four touchdowns
on the ground to his resume.
The team’s run game hasn’t been very effective outside of Bell. Ryan Brumfield
has matched Bell’s four rushing touchdowns, but has only managed 328 yards on
84 carries this season otherwise. Entering the game against Toledo, Eastern
Michigan is gaining 141.6 rushing ypg and just 296.4 offensive ypg as a unit.
The Eagles’ tight end Tyreese Russell is not only the leading receiver on the
team (37 receptions, 506 yards, three touchdowns), but he’s also the only pass
catcher to have played in all 11 games this season. The next closest player
statistically to Russell is Dustin Creel, who has 23 catches for 227 yards on
only five games played.
While it’s been a struggle on the offensive side of the ball, Eastern Michigan
has been an absolute disaster on the defensive side. The Eagles are allowing
497.4 offensive ypg and 39.9 ppg to opponents through 11 games. But what may
be the worst for EMU in this game against Toledo is the team’s rushing
defense, which allows 228.6 ypg to opponent ground attacks. With Toledo’s
high-octane run game, the Eagles may be in serious trouble.
Linebacker Great Ibe has a team-high 121 tackles, and has added 10 tackles for
loss with two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Other than Ibe and Pat
O’Connor (13.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, eight quarterback hurries),
Eastern Michigan’s defense has been very quiet.
Not only does Toledo have the advantage on both sides of the ball against EMU,
but the Rockets have something to play for in a MAC title shot. If Toledo can
just keep Bell at bay, then the team should have no issue getting the win on
the road here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 34, Eastern Michigan 16