In a battle of the doormats of their respective divisions in the Mid-American Conference, the Massachusetts Minutemen (1-8, 0-5) will travel to face the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-9, 0-6) Saturday afternoon. Massachusetts won the only meeting between the two teams with a 36-14 triumph on October 18, 2014 as a 15 point favorite.
Massachusetts has lost five straight games after falling 17-13 at home to Akron last week. Eastern Michigan has dropped eight in a row after taking a 28-13 road defeat to Miami (OH) last week in their most recent action. Kickoff from Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Michigan is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Massachusetts is currently a 7 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 69.5 points.
Massachusetts held a 13-7 lead over Akron at the half but failed to put any points on the board in the second half as they ended up a loser. The Minutemen were outgained 329-261 but finished with 19 first downs to the 18 that the Zips had in the contest. Massachusetts lost the time of possession battle 33:54 to 26:06 but finished a +1 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio as they forced three turnovers while committing a pair of their own in the game. The Minutemen ended up with just six points off those turnovers.
The Minutemen do plenty of damage through the air as they are averaging 293 yards per game (24th in the nation) but they are putting up only 112.6 yards a game (119th in the nation) on the ground while averaging 3.9 yards per carry. The Minutemen are putting up 21.6 points per game but they are a sieve defensively as they allow 34.9 points per contest, which is 105th in the country in scoring defense. Blake Frohnapfel has completed 230 of 396 passes for 2,466 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine picks; Ross Comis has hit 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards and two scores in relief. Marquis Young is the team’s leading rusher with 74 carries for 488 yards and two scores while Jamal Wilson chips in 62 carries for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Tajae Sharpe, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, has reeled in a team high 95 passes for 1,033 yards and four scores on the year. Marken Michel is next in line for the Minutemen with 29 grabs for 352 yards and four touchdowns while Wilson has added 21 catches out of the backfield; Rodney Mills (27 catches, 423 yards, 3 TD) and Shakur Nesmith (15 grabs, 204 yards, 3 TD) are good targets as well to take pressure off Sharpe. Three kickers for the Minutemen have banged through 23 of 25 extra points and seven of 10 field goals this season with a long of 48 yards.
Eastern Michigan continues to struggle as they failed to do much of anything offensively in their loss to the RedHawks. The Eagles were outgained 441-192 and gave up 21 first downs while recording only 10 in the contest. Eastern Michigan allowed the RedHawks to dominate the time of possession as the RedHawks had the ball for 35:19 to the Eagles’ 24:41; both teams turned the ball over twice in the contest. The Eagles found themselves in a 21-0 hole in the second quarter and never recovered.
The Eagles are in the middle of the pack offensively as they are 73rd in the nation in passing (218.3 yards) and 60th in rushing (174.2 yards) per game. Eastern Michigan scores 26 points per game, which is tied for 84th in the country but they are dismal stopping the opposition as they rank 124th in scoring defense by allowing 44.2 points per game. Brogan Roback is the main man under center for Eastern Michigan; he’s hit 62.2 percent (168 of 270) of his throws for 1,838 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 picks. Reginald Bell returned last month but has yet to see much action; he may be back as the starter after missing most of the season. Bell has hit 33 of 57 for 297 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 122 yards. The run game has been effective for the Eagles as they average 4.8 yards per carry with 19 touchdowns. Darius Jackson is the team’s lead back with 178 carries for 941 yards and 13 scores while Shaq Vann contributes 588 yards and five touchdowns on 92 attempts. Roback and now Bell tend to spread the ball around in the passing game as seven players have recorded at least 15 receptions. Eddie Daugherty leads the team with 32 receptions for 509 yards and three scores while Cody Tuttle (29 receptions, 306 yards), Kris Strange (25 receptions, 261 yards, TD) and Dustin Creel (31 grabs, 337 yards, 5 TD) are next in line for Eastern Michigan. Dylan Mulder has hit all 30 extra points and 10 of 14 field goals on the year with a long of 52 yards.
Eastern Michigan is 6-19-1 ATS in their last 26 on fieldturf, 5-16 ATS in their last 21 after holding their opponent to less than 170 yards in the air, 1-6 ATS in their last seven in November and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss.
Both teams are struggling right now as the whole season has been a train wreck as far as trying to put wins on the board. Massachusetts has a terrific passing game and will challenge the Eastern Michigan defense, which has been a sieve. The Minutemen should be able to win this one and get the victory by double figures as Eastern Michigan can’t stop anyone.