The season is mercifully coming to a close for MAC program Eastern Michigan on Friday as they visit a Central Michigan team that's looking to improve its bowl stock.
Another Losing Season At Eastern Michigan
On the short list for worst program in the Football Bowl Subdivision is Eastern Michigan (1-10, 0-7 Mid-American Conference). The school hasn't played in a bowl game since 1987 or finished with a winning record since 1995. In fact, since that 6-5 mark in '95, EMU has won more than four games just once -- a 6-6 record in 2011. The Eagles were 2-10 in each of the past three years. Chris Creighton is their coach and he's in his second season. He came over from Drake.
EMU is off its bye week; it was one of just 12 teams in the country to play 11 games in a row before enjoying a bye in 2015. Eastern last took the field on Nov. 14 in its home finale and lost 28-17 to UMass. That's actually a pretty competitive loss, which hasn't happened much this year (the lone win was at Wyoming on Sept. 12). Eastern's best offensive player is running back Darius Jackson, who has carried 193 times for 996 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has accounted for 30 percent of EMU's scoring this season while being a part of 28.4 percent of all the offensive play calls.
Barring an early-game injury, Jackson will be the first Eastern Michigan player with 1,000 yards rushing since Bronson Hill had 1,101 yards in 2013. Jackson sits 15th on the all-time rushing list at the school with 1,504 career yards. This is the senior's final game. Quarterback Brogan Roback has completed 62.2 percent for 2,098 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Defensively, the player to watch is senior linebacker Great Ibe. Yep, that's his name. He leads the MAC in tackles per game at 12.3. That ranks second in the country. Ibe was the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week and Walter Camp FBS National of the Week following his career-high 21 tackles against UMass (two for loss with a sack). That's the most in the country this year. He was only the second EMU player to ever win the National POW honor, joining quarterback Andy Schmitt in 2008. This is also Ibe's final game.
Eastern Michigan is 3-7-1 against the spread on college football odds this season and 8-3 'over/under.'
CMU Victory Ensures Winning Record
Central Michigan (6-5, 5-2) could finish in a potential tie atop the MAC West if it wins this game, Northern Illinois loses to Ohio University and Toledo falls to Western Michigan. Neither of those results is likely and CMU can't play in the MAC title game. The Chippewas are off a 27-14 win at Kent State. The Chips held KSU to 51 yards and one first down after halftime. Central Michigan has the No. 2 scoring defense in the MAC in allowing 21.5 points per game. It's No. 1 in total defense (238.9 ypg).
CMU QB Cooper Rush completed 20-for-34 for 336 yards with a touchdown in the win. Rush’s streak of games in which he threw multiple TD passes ended at six. On the season, the junior is 284-for-421 for 3,312 yards with 23 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He has completed 67.5 percent of his passes. Rush ranks second in the MAC in both per-game offense (305.4 yards per game) and passing yards per game (301.1) and is third in pass efficiency (147.3). Rush is fourth on CMU's all-time passing yardage list. He needs 341 yards to surpass Dan LeFevour for the most prolific single-season passing yardage total in CMU history.
Central Michigan is bowl-eligible for the fourth consecutive season and the eighth time in the last 10 years. Last year the Chips finished 7-6 and lost in the Bahamas Bowl. Coach Dan Enos left to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. He was replaced by Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego. He is the first CMU alum to serve as head coach for the program since Bill Kelly from 1951-66. Bonamego announced in June he began radiation treatment after doctors found cancer cells on his left tonsil. But on Saturday, the coach announced he was cancer-free.
The Chippewas are 9-2 ATS on college football picks and 4-7 O/U.
Central Michigan went to Ypsilanti last November and won 38-7. Devon Spalding rushed 18 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns while Saylor Lavallii had 24 carries for 105 yards and two scores. Rush was 18-for-23 for 223 yards, a touchdown and interception. Rob Bolden threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jackson with 3:16 remaining to avoid the shutout for Eastern Michigan. The Eagles had just five first downs and 97 total yards compared to 27 and 501, respectively, for CMU. he road team has won three of the previous five meetings between the two in-state rivals. The last time EMU beat CMU was in 2011 in Mount Pleasant.
Give the points and go 'under.' EMU is 1-7 ATS in its past eight November games. It has covered only five of its past 17 on the road. CMU is 4-1 ATS in its past four at home. The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The 'under' is 4-1 in CMU's past five at home.
College Football Picks: Central Michigan -24 & Under 56.5 at 5Dimes