Vegas Odds, Preview and Free Pick: Eastern Michigan vs Rutgers

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights look to earn some respect this week as they host the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Knights, favored at home, are hoping to build off last week’s competitive outing and defeat the visiting Eagles from the MAC conference. Kickoff inside High Point Solutions Stadium is at 3:30 P.M. ET.

Game Preview and Betting Lines: Eastern Michigan vs. Rutgers

Rutgers (0-1) showed massive improvement last week against the Washington Huskies compared to their abysmal 2016 season. They were competitive and even covered the large spread. However, none of that means a thing if they don’t build off last week’s performance and defeat the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

The Eagles (1-0) didn’t play their best football last week against the Charlotte 49ers. They seemed to struggle in this contest. Although, Charlotte is familiar with EMU, it still wasn’t a victory worth getting too excited for. This week, EMU looks to put their best foot forward and get that high scoring offense going.

Rugtgers opened as a 2.5 point favorite at home. They have since gone up to a 5 point favorite. The Over/Under came down from 53 total points to 51.

NCAAF Prediction and Free Vegas Spread Pick: Eastern Michigan +5

Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Krill said it best – “Eastern Michigan will come in here and this will be their bowl game. We’ll get their best shot.”

Small conference teams like EMU, from the MAC conference, treat these games like a bowl game because of the step up in level of talent. But, is it really that much of a step when talking about Rutgers? They were the worst team in the Big 10 last year and could only muster up 2 wins on the season. However, there is some light peeking through the dark clouds surrounding this program. The Scarlett Knights did play better against the Huskies. One aspect of this improvement was in the rush defense.

Rutgers held the Huskies impressive rush attack to just 84 yards. Eastern Michigan was only able to muster up 126 total rushing yards against the 49ers last week. That bodes well for the Scarlett Knights. Additionally, EMU’s quarterback Brogan Roback had a less than stellar game passing for 267 yards and 1 interception. Last year, Roback finished the season by throwing for over 300 yards in 6 of his last 7 games. Additionally, EMU fell below their 29.5 ppg from last year as they only scored 24 points in Week 1.

The Scarlett Knights defense did give up 284 yards passing to Washington last week. For EMU to have a chance, and possibly win this game, they need Roback to have a better passing performance this week. Something in the ballpark of 300 yards, 2 TDs and 0 turnovers.

Offensively, the Scarlett Knights will need to limit their mistakes starting with quarterback Kyle Bolin. Although he threw two touchdown passes, he also threw 2 picks and only finished with 178 passing yards. The rushing game did better as they churned out 131 yards on the ground against a tough Washington defense. This week, they have a better matchup against the Eagles defense who gave up 166 yards on the ground to Charlotte. If Rutgers can establish a running game, limit the turnovers, and play solid defense, they have a great shot at winning.

Eastern Michigan is 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games. Rutgers is 6-12 ATS at home and has lost their last 5 home games.

Eastern Michigan’s struggles against Charlotte, coupled with Rutgers’ improved play against the Huskies, leads me to believe that the Scarlett Knights will get their first win of 2017. However, it won’t be by more than 5 points. I don’t see Rutgers covering that spread. If anything, it will be by a field goal or less.

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