Both teams are bowl eligible, but the Michigan MAC trophy is on the line.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles take the trek up US-23 to I-96 to US-127, where they will end up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan to face intrastate rivals Central Michigan. I’ll get the easy part out of the way: both teams are currently bowl-eligible, so a bowl berth won’t be on the line. However, by virtue of both teams beating Western Michigan, the winner of Friday’s game will be able to claim the Michigan MAC trophy outright.
Both teams have an overall 7-4 record, but Central Michigan has a slight edge over Eastern Michigan with a 5-2 record in the MAC versus Eastern Michigan’s 4-3 record. With Northern Illinois clinching the MAC West berth at the MAC Championship last week, the best that Central can hope for is to tie Northern Illinois’ record (but Northern Illinois still goes to Detroit because of head to head). Eastern Michigan is playing top get their hands on the football version of the Michigan MAC Trophy in their hands for the first time since 2012.
So how do the two teams stack up?
I don’t think I’ve seen two teams stack up this much stats wise in a while. Both are roughly equal points wise in both scored and allowed. At 177 yards per game, Central Michigan’s rushing game is better than Eastern Michigan’s 128 yards per game. The passing games are roughly equal. Eastern Michigan has a slight edge on creating turnovers by two. Eastern Michigan has given up more sacks.
That being said, I think there are two X factors in this game. One, Central Michigan is playing at home, so that would give them an edge. The other is that the bulk of their rushing yards come from Lew Nichols, the nation’s current leading rusher, who averages about 138 yards per game. This game comes down to how well Eastern Michigan can contain Nichols and which team plays a mistake-free game. If Central Michigan can score early, I think it is going to be a long day for the Eagles, but the Eagles never quit, so you never know.
This game is probably going to come down to who can win the turnover game. I give the slight edge to Eastern Michigan there. But that being said, I think Central Michigan wins in a squeaker.