Waldo Stadium -- Kalamazoo, MI
American Sports Network/ESPN3
East meets West – in a Michigan sense -- this week.
While many preseason assessments likely would have considered Eastern Michigan vs. Western Michigan a yawner in favor of the latter, this week’s match-up between the two has some extra spark.
Sure, WMU has lived up to its preseason hype and holds down the No. 20 spot in both national polls. Eastern, however, has jumped off to its best start since 1995. One more win, in fact, would make the Eagles bowl eligible – something not realistically on the radar in recent years.
Of course, it now seems easy to forget – at least outside of Kalamazoo – that the Broncos were a struggling program before the arrival of head coach P.J. Fleck. Western posted just one win (by one point over UMass) in Fleck’s first year, but it reached a bowl game one year later.
Are the Eagles a fledgling MAC West power?
Here’s more on the two teams . . .
► Last week’s win at Ohio gave the Eagles three consecutive road wins. It’s the first such streak for EMU since 1967. “We’re traveling well,” head coach Chris Creighton said. “We’ve had great maturity and focus … Otherwise, there is no magic formula.”
► Eastern owns as many wins this year as in the past three years combined.
► This is Creighton’s third year as head coach at Eastern Michigan.
► Part of the Eagles metamorphosis is an offensive shift. Known primarily as a run team not so long ago, EMU ranks seventh in rushing (156.4 ypg) and third in pass offense (270.7 ypg).
► Quarterback Brogan Roback, who ranks fifth in pass efficiency, completed 29 of 39 for 347 yards and three TDs in Saturday’s road win over Ohio.
► Junior Sergio Bailey II had his best day as an Eagle against Ohio, amassing a career-high 143 receiving yards with one touchdown n eight receptions.
► Through seven games, EMU has totaled 1,895 yards through the air. However, Bailey’s performance last week marked the first time this season any Eagle player has topped 100 yards receiving in a game. Ten EMU players caught passes against Ohio.
► Redshirt senior Pat O’Connor registered a strip sack for a turnover last week, raising his season sack total to 5.5 (17.0 career).
► CREIGHTON ON WMU: “They are such a balanced team. … There aren’t any weaknesses, and so we are going to have to slow them down and gen erate offense and win the field position battles with special teams. I don’t think it is going to be enough to win two out of three phases to beat Western.”
► CREIGHTON VALUES LINE PLAY – “In a game like this, the battles of the ‘O’ and ‘D’ lines – both ways – is going to have a lot to do with the outcome of this Saturday’s game.”
► CREIGHTON ON WMU DEPTH – “You could put all their skill (players’ names) in a hat, and whatever name you pull out is a very talented player.”
► The Broncos are one of three FBS programs to own a 7-0 record. The other two are Alabama and Clemson.
► The Broncos are coming off a decisive 41-0 road thrashing Akron. They scored in every quarter and owned a 27-0 lead by intermission.
► RB Jarvion Franklin had a steller day at akron, carrying 33 times for 281 yards and a score. It was a new program record for rushing yards in a single game.
► QB Zach Terrell completed 21 of 31 passes for 207 yards and two TDs. The senior has completed 70.1 percent of his passes this season and is second (MAC) in pass efficiency. Terrell ranks third in the nation in ctive career passing yards (10,168)
► Wideout Corey Davis is the FBS leader with 4,437 receiving yards. That makes him the all-time MAC leader and leaves him 568 yards away from the all-time FBS receiving mark.
► Davis leads the FBS in receiving TDs with 10 after scoring two more last week. He has 43 touchdowns for his career.
► Western Michigan finally committed a turnover (fumble) last week. It was the last team in the nation to commit a turnover this season. For the year, WMU is +12 in turnover margin (second best nationally).
► Western has 21 sacks this year, surpassing its total from all of last season.
► WMU leads the MAC in scoring defense (17.5 ppg) and is second in total defense (337.6 ypg).