EMU football: Eagles open conference play against rival Central Michigan Saturday

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-1) begin their conference schedule on the road against the Central Michigan Chippewas (2-3, 1-1) following a bye week. Eastern Michigan is looking to build on their two-game winning streak and get one step closer to clinching a bowl game and competing for a MAC West championship.

The Eagles are coming off wins against Illinois and Central Connecticut State, while the Chippewas have lost two straight games coming into this one.

“I think we’ve learned a lot about our team the last four weeks,” said head coach Chris Creighton. “All three phases have contributed to our three wins. I think that we know that we are not a finished product but we’re also excited about the potential we have and the opportunity we have to become a really good football team.

“We’ve had some weird bye weeks but this one has been perfect. Bye weeks can be really good and they can also be tricky. But it came at a great time.”

Mike Glass III will look to have a big game after struggling in the second half of the Eagles’ win over Central Connecticut State. Although he had a career-high four touchdown passes in the 34-29 win, Glass threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter which almost led to a loss. The senior quarterback has 1,120 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions coming into the game. Central Michigan’s quarterback, David Moore has three touchdown passes this year.

The Eagles defense has been very good except for the loss against Kentucky in the second week of the season. Eastern Michigan has allowed an average of 30.3 points per game, while also forcing at least one turnover in all four outings, including four interceptions in the win over Coastal Carolina.

The defense leans on guys such as Vince Calhoun, Brody Hoying, and Terry Myrick to make the opposing offense’s job more difficult. Calhoun leads the team with 41 tackles.

“Everything starts up front,” said sophomore defensive lineman Desmond Kelly. “We just have to hit them in the mouth. Words can’t even explain how much this game means to me personally. Central Michigan was actually my first offer and I just can’t wait to go out there and get after them.

“It will be amazing and a different feeling and a different vibe. We just have to go out there and do what we do best.”

The Eagles seem to have the superior offense and defense compared to the Chippewas but playing on the road in conference play is never an easy task. The last time Eastern Michigan went on the road to Mount Pleasant, Central Michigan came away with a 42-30 win and assured the Eagles couldn’t reach a bowl game. Two years later, EMU is trying to cement themselves as a true contender in the MAC West.

“From my perspective, I think it’s very important that we neutralize their running back, Jonathan Ward. He brings a lot to the table, he has great balance, great vision, soft hands out of the backfield, and nice quickness. I think that he’s a great back so neutralizing him is the first thing for our defense,” said Myrick. “We actually had a players only meeting to just lay down the law and let each other know that we have each others back. As a locker room, we just want to come out firing on all cylinders.”

ESPN FPI gives EMU a 58.0 percent chance to win.