Ohio University (4-2) at Eastern Michigan (1-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 19, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Ohio 3-1, EMU 1-1. Away Record: Ohio 1-1, EMU 0-4. Neutral Record: Ohio 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: Ohio 1-1, EMU 0-2. Series Record: Ohio University leads, 17-11-1.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio University Bobcats hope to bounce back as they travel to Rynearson Stadium to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles in Mid-American Conference action.
Ohio had plenty of momentum heading into its Homecoming game versus Central Michigan last week as it won its previous four contests and outscored its last two opponents by a 81-3 margin. Although CMU entered the contest with a poor resume and a 2-4 record, the Bobcats were deflated by four turnovers and lost, 26-23, after the Chippewas scored a go-ahead touchdown with only 22 seconds left in regulation. Coach Frank Solich's team is now 1-1 in MAC play, trailing both Bowling Green (3-0) and Buffalo (2-0) in the East Division race.
Eastern Michigan will also be looking to regroup. Since defeating FCS foe Howard, 34-24, in their season opener, the Eagles have lost their last five games to Penn State, Rutgers, Ball State, Buffalo and Army by an average of 28 points per contest. Coach Ron English's squad suffered a 50-25 loss at Army last week and allowed the Black Knights' Terry Baggett set the school record with 304 yards on 18 carries. EMU is 3-15 in conference home games under English.
Ohio coasted to a 45-14 victory when it hosted EMU last season in early November. The victory was their eighth in the last nine meetings and improved the Bobcats to 17-11-1 all-time record versus the Eagles.
The fourth and final turnover committed by the Bobcats in their loss to CMU came late in the last quarter when Thad Ingol muffed a punt, which gave the Chippewas an extra opportunity with a short field to steal the decision. Two of the giveaways were made by Tyler Tettleton, who finished 24-of-33 for 319 yards and two touchdowns, but threw an intercepted on back-to-back drives in the second quarter. The program's all-time leader in passing yards fell to 22-10 as a starter with the loss. Tettleton is 378 yards shy of reaching 8,000 passing yards for his career, a mark no Ohio signal caller has ever reached.
Despite the undesirable Homecoming result, Senior wide receiver Donte' Foster posted season-high totals in yards (118) and receptions (nine). Chase Cochran was also a factor in the aerial attack as he compiled 122 yards and a touchdown on three receptions while Beau Blankenship was limited to only 70 yards on 21 carries. Blankenship was the 10th leading rusher in the nation last season with 123.4 yards per game, but is netting only 52.7 yards per game and 3.7 yards per rush six games through his senior campaign.
Defensively, Ohio did much worse than expected last week after holding Austin Peay scoreless and Akron to just three points in its two previous bouts. The Bobcats were then torched for 432 yards by CMU, which received 184 rushing yards from its starting tailback Saylor Lavallii. They only forced turnover and allowed the Chippewas to move the chains on 9-of-17 third-down plays.
Ohio registered four sacks against CMU and now has 15 in its last three games and 20 on the season, which ties for second most in the conference. The Bobcats are ranked second in the MAC in scoring defense (21.7 ppg) and first in rushing defense (139.7 ypg). Sophomore linebacker Ben Russell is having a breakout season and paces the team with 40 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
EMU has an offensive star in Bronson Hill, who compiled 234 all-purpose yards including 143 rushing in last week's setback in West Point. Hill has registered three 100-yard rushing outings this season for EMU, which nets only 135.7 yards on the ground per game. The junior halfback improved his numbers with last week's strong showing, but he is still gaining only 4.5 yards per carry in 2013 after picking up 6.5 ypc last season as a sophomore.
The Eagles have struggled to produce during their losing streak, averaging only 343.6 yards of total offense and 15.2 points during the five-game span. EMU's offense had one of its more promising displays last week against Army, amassing 417 yards of total offense along with 133 kick return yards.
Tyler Benz completed 17-of-26 attempts for 223 yards and two touchdowns at Army. He was also picked off once and sacked twice. While Benz connects with his target on 64.5 percent of his pass attempts, his poor decision making has led to six interceptions over the past four games. EMU lacks experience in its receiving corps and has yet to establish a lead wideout. Junior tight end Tyreese Russell is pacing the team with 28 receptions and 290 yards.
The Eagles' rushing defense is ranked 120th among 123 FBS programs after Army's field day against them drove their allowed average up to 262.7 yards per game. EMU allowed the Black Knights to tally 513 of their 551 total yards of offense on the ground and failed to register a single tackle for loss, sack or takeaway in the contest. The Eagles held their own for the opening 30 minutes and trailed by only four at halftime before Army posted 21 unanswered points in the third frame to pull away. Matt Hunter recorded a team-best 13 total stops. Senior defensive back Mycal Swaim is leading the defense with 40 total tackles and an interception.
Ohio still controls its own destiny as it pursues another trip to Detroit for the MAC Championship. The Bobcats have to care of EMU this week and Miami-Ohio next week before their back-to-back road games against the two schools ahead of them in the divisional race. They could have their hands full with Hill, but EMU's less reliable defense should be easy to overcome.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 42, Eastern Michigan 24
10/16 10:34:36 ET