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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television:ESPN3. Home Record: Army 1-3, EMU 0-3. Away Record: Army 0-2, EMU 0-3. Neutral Record: Army 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: Army 0-0, EMU 0-3. Series Record: Army leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams desperate for a win clash as the Army Black Knights head to Rynearson Stadium to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Army saw its record drop to 1-5 last week as it was defeated 31-17 by Kent State of the MAC. The loss came just a week after the Black Knights' only victory, which came over Boston College. Although it has a win over an ACC program, Army was also beaten 23-3 by Stony Brook of the FCS on Sept. 29.
Although EMU had an offensive outburst and scored a season-high 47 points last week, it still failed to pick up its first win. Now in his fourth season at the helm of the program, coach Ron English has an 8-34 career record. The Eagles carry an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season into this one.
This will be just the fifth meeting in history between these programs. The Black Knights have won all four previous meetings, the most recent of which they earned a 31-27 decision in Ypsilanti on Sept. 4, 2010.
Although Army is normally one of just a handful of programs in the country that still utilize a wishbone offensive scheme that relies almost exclusively on the run, it set new season-highs in passing attempts (20) and yards (132) in last week's loss to Kent State. Through just six games, the Black Knights have amassed 2,311 yards on the ground, which is the most in the nation. On the other side Army has only 403 passing yards.
With such a prolific rushing attack the Black Knights have had a stable of backs carrying the ball, led by Raymond Maples, who has 751 yards on 123 carries for a solid 6.1 yards per carry and 125.2 yards per game. Larry Dixon (494 yards, 5 TDs) and quarterback Trent Steelman (497 yards, 8 TDs) receive the majority of the carries when Army nears the goal line.
As a passer, Steelman has completed only 21 passes all season for 337 yards and one touchdown. Last week, freshman QB A.J. Schurr played the final two drives and passed for 66 yards and a touchdown. When Schurr is under center, it is clear Army has a deeper playbook due to his passing ability. Even if Steelman is sidelined for a few drives, he will see plenty of action due to his excellent mobility. One more rushing touchdown will tie Steelman with Mike Mayweather for second on the program's all-time career rushing scores list.
Chevaughn Lawrence had a career day last week with six receptions for 88 yards. The sophomore wideout had never had more than a single catch in a game prior to last week.
On defense, Army has a number of prolific tacklers led by Geoffery Bacon, who has piled up 62 tackles. Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires has 36 total tackles, while Nate Combs has been a force on the line with six sacks and nine total tackles for loss.
Offense has not been a strength of Eastern Michigan, but it showed it has upside last week. The Eagles are ranked 106th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense (323.2 ypg) and have the lowest scoring average (20.7 ppg) in the MAC. Those numbers were much lower until last week's 47-point and 624-yard output in the high-scoring loss to Toledo.
Bronson Hill was the catalyst for the outburst as he turned in the best rushing performance in the nation this year with 283 yards on 28 rushes. He also tied the school record with four touchdown runs. Hill had never rushed the ball more than four times in a game before in his career.
Tyler Benz also had a big game last week, passing for career-bests of 301 yards and two touchdowns. Benz also had personal highs of 18 completions and 27 attempts. The junior quarterback was much more effective with Hill demanding Toledo's attention.
Garrett Hoskins is the primary weapon in EMU's passing attack. His season totals of 23 receptions and 306 yards are exponentially better than all of his teammates.
The Eagles' defense has struggled all season long, surrendering 515.5 yards and 39.7 points per game. The biggest concern for coach English, especially this week versus Army, has to be the rush defense, which ranks last in the FBS as opponents are averaging 296.8 yards on the ground against EMU this season.
Donald Coleman and Bryan Pali are tied for the team-lead with 60 total stops. EMU needs its defenders to start making plays to improve its turnover margin, which is minus-0.67 per game.
Army's offense is tailor-made to shred up teams that have trouble stopping the run. The Eagles' offense will need to have a high-powered attack for a second week in a row as their defense is unlikely to succeed.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Army 35, Eastern Michigan 31
10/17 10:47:52 ET
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