Eastern Michigan (1-6) at Virginia (2-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 23rd, 6:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) -- Charlottesville, Virginia Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: EMU 0-3, UVA 2-2. Away Record: EMU 1-3, UVA 0-2. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, UVA 0-0. Conference Record: EMU 0-3, UVA 0-3. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers step out of conference for the final time during the regular season, as they are set to host the Eastern Michigan Eagles this Saturday at Scott Stadium.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the gridiron.
After six straight losses to start the season, Eastern Michigan finally broke into the win column last week with a 41-38 overtime victory over Ball State. It wasn't easy though, as they had to overcome a 21-point deficit and then hang on in the extra period. This weekend's tilt is the final stop of a three- game road trip for EMU.
Meanwhile, Virginia is looking to snap a three-game slide of its own. Last Saturday, the Cavaliers were dealt a lopsided 44-10 home loss from North Carolina. Both of the teams' wins this season have come in Charlottesville, and this will be the second leg of a three-game homestand.
Eagles' quarterback Alex Gillett was a one-man show against Ball State, setting EMU QB records for most rushing attempts (35) and net rushing yards (189), while scoring two rushing touchdowns. Gillett also completed 10-of-18 passes for 225 yards and three TDs to help the Eagles rally for the victory. His 414 total yards nearly accounted for all of the team's 490 total yards for the game. The 41 points scored was easily a season-high for the Eagles, and even with that outburst they still rank 97th nationally in scoring offense (29.9 ppg). Gillett is completing just 55 percent of his passes on the year averages a mere 154.6 yards per game, and he also leads the team with 376 rushing yards (3.9 ypc)
The EMU defense has been one of the more generous in the nation throughout the season. Entering this contest, the Eagles rank 119th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring defense, yielding 43.4 points per outing. Only once this season has an opponent scored less than 30 points against EMU, and that was back on September 11th against Miami-Ohio. The Eagles have been particularly porous against the run, allowing 228.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 117th nationally. However, they stepped it up last week on the road against Ball State, holding the Cardinals to 243 total yards for the game, including 98 on the ground (3.1 ypc).
Virginia's offense was held to a season-low 10 points against a fired up North Carolina squad that was determined to end a 14-game losing streak at Scott Stadium. Consider it mission accomplished, as the Tar Heels notched five interceptions on the day and also held UVA to 2-of-6 in red-zone chances, including only one touchdown. The Cavs were just 4-of-14 on third down, and 3- of-6 on fourth down. Senior tailback Keith Payne was one of the few bright spots, rumbling for 107 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He leads the team with 402 rushing yards (4.6 ypc) after spending the previous year away from the team. But while Payne's performance was no doubt encouraging, the Cavs will ultimately need Verica on his game to keep opposing defenses honest.
EMU is at the bottom of the pack when it comes to stopping the run, but UVA hasn't fared much better. The Cavaliers enter this matchup ranked 100th nationally in rushing defense (198.3 ypg), but they were able to avoid big running plays last week as the Tar Heels posted 140 yards and only one touchdown on the ground (4.0 ypc). Then again, with UNC quarterback T.J. Yates completing an ultra-efficient 17-of-22 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, the Tar Heels didn't have much reason to force things on the ground. Gillett may not be a prototypical pocket passer, but if the UVA defense leaves him passing windows, he'll find them.
Virginia is 10-1-1 against the MAC all-time. Playing at home and looking to end a losing streak, count on the Cavs notching their 11th win against MAC foes this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 27, Eastern Michigan 16
10/20 10:47:10 ET