EMU football: Eagles fly home for opener after dramatic win at Illinois

By Charles Post / WLAA

Eastern Michigan (2-1), fresh off their victory over Illinois, will face Central Connecticut State (3-0) in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti. With a win, the Eagles would be 3-1 for the second time during head coach Chris Creighton’s tenure, which dates back to 2014.

Eastern Michigan is now 3-1 against the Big Ten since Creighton came to Ypsilanti, with victories over Rutgers (2017), Purdue (2018), and Illinois (2019).

“We talked a lot about solidifying our identity. It got close at the end and we were able to pull it out. I’m really excited to play Central Connecticut (State). Just having everybody together on a game day will be a really big deal,” Creighton said. “A lot to look forward to. I’m excited about it and I’m sure our guys are to. There’s something about being where you practice and where you live and for the local community and the families. I think it’s going to be a really big deal.”

Central Connecticut State comes into the game winning three straight games, the last of which was a 42-13 blowout win over Valparaiso last Saturday. In the win, quarterback Aaron Winchester threw for 147 yards, while running back Keonte Lucas averaged 19.0 yards per carry en route to 190 yards and two touchdowns, including a long of 85 yards.

Eastern Michigan’s defense will look to force the Blue Devils into throwing the ball and will try to key in on their receivers.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles will try to keep the offense balanced. After throwing the ball 53 times in the loss versus Kentucky, compared to just 22 rushes, EMU returned to form against Illinois and ran the ball four more times than they passed (40-36).

If Eastern Michigan can keep the defense on their toes and be able to create big plays through the air and on the ground, then the Eagles should win their third game of the season.

“Coming into the week, we kind of knew we were going to run the ball a lot more. I think against Kentucky we had over 50 passing attempts and this week we knew it was going to be less and we were going to be a more balanced offense that I know we can be,” said tight end Thomas Odukoya. “So that hyped us up. Me, the offensive line, the tight ends, and all the other blockers had a great time in the trenches.”

Mike Glass III comes into the game with an impressive 841 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Arthur Jackson III also played a very big role in the victory over Illinois, and will look to build on that performance going forward. He has 10 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns in three games. Shaq Vann, the leading rusher for the Eagles, is questionable after going down with an injury against the Fighting Illini.

Creighton touched on the offense and Vann’s status update during the weekly press conference: “In the Kentucky game, we just chose not to rush the ball that much. That first game was more indicative of who we are. We’ll find out more (about Vann) but he left the game because of an injury, not because of any other reason.”

ESPN Football Power Index gives the Eagles a 96.6 percent chance to beat the Blue Devils.