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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly Shorts Stadium (45,000) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 2-3, Central Michigan 2-2. Away Record: Eastern Michigan 0-6, Central Michigan 3-4. Neutral Record: Eastern Michigan 0-0, Central Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern Michigan 1-6, Central Michigan 4-3. Series Record: Central Michigan leads, 56-28-6.
GAME NOTES: The Central Michigan Chippewas will try to finish off the regular season with a victory when they host the Eastern Michigan Eagles in a Mid- American Conference clash at Kelly Shorts Stadium on Friday.
A road victory for the Eagles is likely not in the cards based on their results this season. Eastern Michigan has just a 2-9 overall record and a 1-6 mark in league play. Both of those victories came at home for the Eagles, who have lost by at least 18 points in their six games away from home. Playing at home didn't help last time out, as the Eagles were blasted, 58-7, by Bowling Green over the weekend.
This is an important game for the Chippewas as a victory makes them bowl eligible and a loss sends them into the offseason. The Chippewas suffered difficult losses against West Division leaders Northern Illinois (38-17) and Ball State (44-22), but have bounced back to give themselves a shot at the postseason with back-to-back wins over Western Michigan (27-22) and Massachusetts (37-0). Getting to a bowl this season would give the Chippewas back-to-back postseason berths for the first time since earning three straight trips to the Motor City Bowl from 2006-08.
Ryan Radcliff threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns and Zurlon Tipton added 110 yards and a score on the ground to carry Central Michigan to a 34-31 victory when these teams met a year ago. The victory extended the Chippewas' all-time series lead to an even more dominant 56-28-1.
Though they are not the worst offensive team in the MAC, the Eagles are far from the best. Eastern Michigan is picking up only 335.4 yards of total offense per game while scoring a shade under 20 points a contest. The Eagles have not yet reached the 2,000-yard mark in passing or rushing.
Against Bowling Green the Eagles put forth one of the most miserable offensive performances of the season by any team as they totaled only 65 yards on 44 plays.
Brogan Roback and Tyler Benz have shared the duties at quarterback this season but neither found much success against Bowling Green as the two combined to complete just a single pass for four yards while being intercepted twice. Benz began the year as the starter and has thrown for 1,485 yards and 10 scores to nine interceptions on 59.3 percent passing. Roback has begun to get more play in recent weeks and has totaled 501 yards and three touchdowns while being intercepted four times and completing passes at a 39.3 percent rate.
The receiving threats for the Eagles are rather limited with only one player averaging more than 50 yards per game through the air. Tyreese Russell (41 receptions, 568 yards, three TDs) is that receiver though he, like so many others, did not have a catch against Bowling Green. Dustin Creel (36 receptions, 484 yards, five TDs) is the second best receiver and was also shutout against the Falcons.
Bronson Hill and Ryan Brumfield are the two leading rushers for the Eagles, but they combined for only 26 yards on 14 carries against Bowling Green. Hill has totaled 935 yards and five scores on 171 attempts this season and did have a game of 257 yards against Ohio. It was one of his four 100-yard efforts this season. Brumfield has added 473 yards and five touchdowns on the season but has not broken the century mark in any contest.
The biggest shortcoming for Eastern Michigan has been on the defensive end. The Eagles are last in the MAC in total yards allowed (5218 ypg). In fact no other team in the conference is surrendering more than 480 yards per game. The Eagles are also the only team in the conference surrendering more than 40 points per game as they have allowed 65 total touchdowns and an average of 45.5 points each week.
Central Michigan is far from an offensive force in the MAC. In fact the Chippewas are only accumulating a few more yards per game (336.9) than the Eagles, while scoring 21.5 points per game. Even in a 37-0 win last week, the Chippewas still managed only 298 yards of total offense.
Cooper Rush handles the duties under center, doing so in fairly uneven fashion. Rush has thrown for more than 2,000 yards as well as 15 touchdown passes, but he is connecting on only 56.4 percent of his pass attempts, while being picked off 14 times. In the win over UMass, Rush played better than usual, as he completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Chippewas to victory.
Rush has relied heavily on Titus Davis when he lets the ball fly. Davis has racked up 1,090 yards and eight touchdowns on 59 receptions this season. Davis is one of only two players in the MAC to have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, while his 18.5 yards per reception average is the second best mark in the league. Davis finished with seven receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns against UMass, accounting for more than half of the team's receptions and receiving yards in the victory.
Even though Tipton returned for this season, he has been limited and rushed for only 182 yards and four scores in five games. Tipton was the leading rusher against UMass with 50 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Saylor Lavalli (795 yards, five TDs) has been the much more productive and healthy back as the leading rusher and the only back to have played in all 11 games. Lavalli took a back seat against UMass though with 10 yards on nine carries.
Central Michigan can take solace in being a far superior defensive team than the Eagles. That is not saying much however, as the Chippewas are still allowing 30.3 points per game and more than 400 yards of total offense each week to their foes. J Cherocci (110 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks) and Shamari Benton (107 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks) have each been tackling machines for the Chippewas and two of only five defenders in the MAC to have reached the 100-tackle plateau this year.
The Chippewas don't have the type of offense to roll over many teams but they will be able to get past Eastern Michigan, especially at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 33, Eastern Michigan 6.
11/27 11:15:53 ET
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