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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Michie Stadium (38,000) -- West Point, New York. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: EMU 1-1, Army 1-2. Away Record: EMU 0-3, Army 0-2. Neutral Record: EMU 0-0, Army 1-0. Conference Record: EMU 0-2, Army 0-0. Series Record: Army leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles will look to end a four-game losing streak as they close out their non-conference slate against the Army Black Knights at Michie Stadium.
Since defeating FCS foe Howard, 34-24, in their season opener, the Eagles have lost their last four games to Penn State, Rutgers, Ball State and Buffalo by an average of 28.8 points per contest. Coach Ron English's squad endured a 42-14 loss at Buffalo last week to fall to 0-2 in Mid-American Conference play. EMU is 0-12 in non-conference road games under English.
Army will also be looking to bounce back after falling, 48-27, to Boston College in Chestnut Hill last week. The loss was the fourth in five games against FBS opponents for the Black Knights, who enter Saturday with victories over Morgan State (28-12) and Louisiana Tech (35-16). Now in his fifth season at the helm of the program, Rich Ellerson owns a 19-36 record as Army's head coach.
One of Ellerson's losses came courtesy of the Eagles last season as his Black Knights lost, 48-38, at Rynearson Stadium in 2012. Army owns a 4-1 all-time series lead, including a 2-0 record versus the Eagles at West Point.
The Eagles have struggled to produce during their losing streak, averaging only 325.3 yards of total offense and 12.8 points during the four-game span. EMU amassed only 329 total yards at Buffalo last week in its lopsided loss. Tyler Benz got off to a hot start as he completed his first four pass attempts for 44 yards before finishing 12-of-19 for 157 yards with one touchdown and an interception. While Benz connects with his target on 64.5 percent of his pass attempts, his poor decision making has led to four interceptions over the past three games. EMU lacks experience in its receiving corps and has yet to establish a lead wideout. Junior tight end Tyreese Russell is pacing the team with 23 receptions and 230 yards.
Bronson Hill has registered a pair of 100-yard rushing outings this season for EMU, which nets only 124 yards on the ground per game. Hill is gaining only 3.9 yards per carry in 2013 after picking up 6.5 ypc last season as a sophomore. The junior halfback had a strong showing against the Black Knights in last year's meeting, tallying 252 combined rushing and receiving yards along with a pair of touchdowns. Ryan Brumfield could see an increased workload after scoring on a 75-yard touchdown run on one of his two carries last week.
The Eagles' defense has been devastated by big plays on a consistent basis this season. They have allowed 40 of their opponents' plays to result in gains of 20 yards or more with 14 of them resulting in touchdowns. EMU's opponents have scored nine touchdowns on plays of 50 yards or more. The Eagles are ranked 108th among FBS schools in rushing defense at 212.6 ypg, and that standing could get worse after facing Army's option attack. Sophomore linebacker Ike Spearman paced the team with eight tackles last week as it allowed Buffalo to compile 452 yards of total offense. Senior defensive back Mycal Swaim is leading the defense with 34 total tackles and an interception.
Swaim will most likely be creeping towards the line of scrimmage on Saturday to counter Army's triple-option offense, which is ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense at 325.5 yards per game. Six different players have already surpassed the 100-yard mark, including junior quarterback Angel Santiago, the team's leader with four rushing touchdowns. Santiago has completed only 38.9 percent of his passing attempts for 209 yards, but is a threatening rusher with 387 yards through five games. The junior signal caller found some success through the air last week as he completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Moss in the first half.
Army's junior tailback trio of Terry Baggett, Larry Dixon and Trenton Turrentine powers its offense. Baggett has been unstoppable, gaining 8.2 yards per carry on his way to 401 yards. Dixon racked up a team-high 125 yards as Army collected 326 yards on the ground at Boston College.
The Black Knights are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season. The Eagles rushed for 320 yards, while their starting QB Chase Rettig completed all but two of his pass attempts for 208 yards. After giving up 48 points to Boston College, Army is tied for 81st among FBS teams in scoring defense at 29.2 points allowed per game. Senior linebacker Thomas Holloway recorded his second double-digit tackle performance of the season last week and paces the team with 38 stops.
Benz could have one of his best outings of the season against the Black Knights' weak pass defense. The junior quarterback hasn't had time to let routes develop at all so far, but that could change this week as Army's main focus will be Hill. Santiago's injury (ankle) may limit him and could force Ellerson to turn over his offense to A.J. Schurr or Kelvin White.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 28, Army 24
10/09 10:35:40 ET
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