Eastern Michigan returns to Rynearson Stadium for homecoming weekend against conference opponent Ball State.
The Eagles are 3-2 coming into the game, but struggled in their most recent outing versus Central Michigan, losing 42-16. The Cardinals, on the other hand, earned a much-needed 27-20 win over Northern Illinois. Ball State is now 2-3. No matter the circumstances, the Eagles are happy to be back home for just their second home game of the season.
“Super excited about being back home. No doubt. We’ve played five games and four of them have been on the road. Homecoming is a big deal here and being at home is a big deal to us,” said Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton. “Our guys are very resilient. We have majored in bouncing back and just having a thick resolve. We’re going to have to show that but I expect nothing less than for us to be really focused. We have to really play well to win.”
Eastern Michigan’s defense will try to slow down Ball State quarterback Drew Pitt, who has 1,407 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions in the first five games of 2019. Pitt’s favorite receiver has been Riley Miller. Miller has a team-high 23 receptions for 321 yards.
EMU quarterback Mike Glass III started the season well, but has since slowed down a bit. He has thrown three interceptions in the last two outings. Glass has 13 passing touchdowns to his name.
“It’s a game-to-game decision about what our plan is. Central Michigan is really good versus the run, they commit to defending the run. I think one of our strengths is the outside guys and our passing game,” said Creighton. “It’s one of the reasons we didn’t succeed on Saturday because we didn’t win those match-ups. We had a chance to make plays, which is one of the keys to a victory. When Saturday comes, you’ve got to execute the plan and you also have to bring the energy, passion and desire.”
Wide receiver Hassan Beydoun explained his thoughts on the loss to Central Michigan: “Something so small, like an alignment on a play, can mess up a whole play. We just have to be locked in, bring more energy and intensity, and we’ll be fine. Everyone prepares differently, we just have to be better. The good news is, it’s nothing that the other team did. It was just a lack of effort. We had a lot of plays that we left on the field but it’s easily fixable. It’s onto Ball State.”
The Eagles are looking for their fourth win of the season, which would be one step closer to getting bowl eligible at six wins. If Eastern Michigan is going to pull off the slight upset over Ball State, they must run the ball more effectively. Against Central Michigan, Eagles leading rusher Willie Parker had just 29 yards and the team was out rushed 308-63. Being at home, with the crowd on their side, the team should be able to compete and move the ball better.
According to ESPN FPI, the Eagles have a 49.4% chance to win the game.
“I’m really looking forward to homecoming. The fan base is back here and the alumni. My dad was a receiver for Charlie Batch. I grew up calling Charlie Batch my uncle and I expect to see him here this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it,” said defensive back Freddie McGee III. “The team goal is to win the conference and we didn’t start MAC play how we wanted to. Not going to panic, though, it’s a long season and all we have to do is bounce back this weekend.”
The game kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Rynearson Stadium.