The college football week gets started a little earlier than usual with a MAC showdown between the Eastern Michigan Eagles and Akron Zips. Kickoff is set for 6:00 EST on Tuesday, November 12 and InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio. Fans can find the game on ESPNNews.
The betting line has opened with Eastern Michigan favored by 17 points on the road. Click here for a full list of the Week 12 college football odds.
The Zips are still looking for their first win of the season under new head coach Tom Arth. It’s been a long season for Akron, who couldn’t even beat UMass. The Zips have had only two games that were decided by less than three touchdowns, so they’ve not been particularly close to getting a win. At this point, a home game against Eastern Michigan might be Akron’s best chance to avoid a winless season.
The Eagles are also in the midst of a disappointing season. Chris Creighton has taken EMU to a bowl game in two of the last three seasons, including last year’s 7-6 campaign. However, the Eagles have lost four of their last five games since the start of conference play despite a promising 3-1 start that included a road win over Big Ten foe Illinois. At 4-5, the Eagles need two wins in their final three games to become bowl eligible. However, Eastern Michigan might need to win all three to guarantee a bowl spot. That makes Tuesday’s game a must-win for the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan handled Akron 27-7 when they met last season. However, Creighton lost both of his other encounters with the Zips early during his tenure at Eastern Michigan. While these teams don’t play one another every year, the Eagles haven’t won a game in Akron since 1995, a drought of five straight road games against the Zips without a win.
With all due respect to the Zips, this game isn’t a matter of “if” Eastern Michigan will win, but by how much they will win. Unfortunately for Akron, the smart money is with Eastern Michigan covering. As mentioned, all but two of Akron’s nine losses this year have come by at least 21 points, including all five of their conference games. Things have actually gotten worse for the Zips since the start of MAC play, so it’d be foolish to think things will suddenly turnaround.
Things have gone from bad to disastrous for the Akron offense over the past month. The Zips are averaging just 13 points per game on the season and are dead last in the country with 51 rushing yards per game. To make matters worse, the Zips have scored a total of nine points in their last four games. Akron actually went ahead 6-0 early in their last game against Bowling Green, only to be held scoreless the rest of the way with just 100 total yards in the game. Those two field goals were the first points the Zips scored in three games after back-to-back shutouts.
Needless to say, it’s a safe bet that the Zips aren’t going to score many points against Eastern Michigan, if they score any at all. To be honest, I’m not even concerned with the fact that the Eagles aren’t strong defensively. They are giving up over 33 points per game and have allowed a minimum of 27 points in their five MAC games. But Akron is so bad offensively that I’m going to ignore all of that.
Fortunately for Eastern Michigan, they’ve been much better offensively this season. The EMU rushing attack has been limited at times, but that’s largely a result of running back Shaq Bann being sidelined for the second half of September and early October. He’s averaged 80 yards per game in his three games back, giving the Eagles a viable rushing attack that should be a big help down the stretch.
It’s worth noting that starting quarterback Mike Glass has been dealing with an injury. However, the Eagles should still be in good hands if backup Preston Hutchinson has to play. The sophomore completed 31 of 36 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns against Western Michigan in EMU’s only conference win of the season. He’s not the same kind of running threat that Glass provides. But Hutchinson offers more arm talent, giving the Eagles a more potent passing attack.
Either quarterback should be fine against an Akron defense that’s yielding over 35 points per game. During their home MAC games, the Zips have been a little more stingy, giving up 26 points or less to both Buffalo and Kent State. However, it hasn’t been enough to give Akron a fighting chance to win.
Ultimately, the Akron offense hasn’t proven that they can move the ball and score points against any MAC opponent. Even scoring 10 points would be exceeding expectations for the Zips. As long as that trend continues, the Eagles should have no problem scoring enough points to cover the spread. Eastern Michigan is a little better than their 1-4 conference record suggests, which is why I think they’ll be the latest team to steamroll Akron by three touchdowns.