FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: WMU 0-4, EMU 1-2. Away Record: WMU 1-4, EMU 0-6. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 1-4, EMU 0-5. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 29-17-2.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles will be looking to collect their first win in Mid-American Conference play this season on Saturday when they welcome the Western Michigan Broncos to Rynearson Stadium for an instate duel.
Coach P.J. Fleck finally notched his first victory of the season before last week's bye when his Broncos denied a two-point conversion attempt with only seconds remaining to edge Massachusetts, 31-30. The rookie head coach had suffered eight losses in a row to start his career, all of which came by double-digit margins, with the exception of a 27-23 setback to FCS foe Nicholls.
While the Broncos are coming off their first win of 2012, EMU has not been victorious since it downed FCS foe Howard, 34-24, in its season opener. The poor campaign for coach Ron English's team continued in week 10. It was handed its eighth straight loss by Toledo, which coasted to a 55-16 victory at the Glass Bowl. The Eagles are one of just two teams in the MAC left without a win over a conference rival and have lost six straight on the road. EMU has not been competitive during the 2013 campaign and has been outscored by an average of 32.6 points per game during its current slide.
WMU and EMU will be squaring off for the 49th time in history. The Broncos hold a 29-17-2 all-time series lead in the rivalry that dates back to 1906. The Eagles earned a 29-23 decision last season at Waldo Stadium for their second straight win over WMU. EMU has not beat the Broncos in three straight games since 1989-91.
The Broncos are one of the least productive teams in the MAC offensively with just 15.3 points and 321.2 total yards of offense per game. The production went up in the win over UMass, as freshman quarterback Zach Terrell had a career day with 275 yards and four touchdowns on 23-of-36 efficiency. Terrell also managed to avoid throwing an interception and now has seven TDs against six picks on the season. He is likely to start once again as Tyler Van Tubbergen is still not 100 percent recovered from the shoulder injury that kept him out the past two games.
Most of Terrell's targets in the victory went towards fellow rookie, Corey Davis, who finished with 154 yards and a pair of touchdown grabs on 10 receptions. Davis has had a remarkable freshman season during the team's disappointing season with 55 catches for 761 yards and five scores, placing second in the MAC in receiving.
Dareyon Chance (508 yards, TD) and Brian Fields (463 yards, four TDs) have formed a decent rushing tandem for WMU. Both halfbacks are averaging more than four yards per carry, while combining for 114.3 yards per outing.
WMU's lone win did not come courtesy of a strong defensive performance as the Minutemen's feeble offensive attack surpassed their scoring average by nearly 20 points. The Broncos are ranked 108th among FBS schools in scoring defense (36.7 ppg) and 89th nationally in total defense (430.9 ypg). Mike Jones is the team's leading tackler with 85 stops while Justin Currie is close behind with 84 tackles. Both players have recorded five tackles for loss. WMU's pass rush is nearly non-existent with only six sacks through nine contests.
EMU is near the middle of the pack among the MAC schools offensively despite posting only 357.9 yards and 19.2 points per game. The aerial attack has lacked efficiency all season long. Coach Ron English elected to give true freshman Brogan Roback his first career start at quarterback two weeks ago at NIU and kept the rookie with the first team last week versus the Rockets.
After finishing his inaugural start with 109 passing yards on 7-of-17 efficiency, Roback hit on 11-of-22 of his throws for 209 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one pick. While setting a new-career high in passing yards, Roback displayed chemistry with sophomore wideout Dustin Creel, who had a career day with six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Tyreese Russell has been the team's most dangerous weapon in the passing game this season, pacing the squad with 492 yards on 37 catches.
The team played last week's contest without star tailback Bronson Hill. Ryan Brumfield took the majority of the carries, but gained only 3.9 yards per attempt to net 67 yards. Hill is the primary weapon for EMU when healthy and is the fifth-leading rusher among MAC players with 102.1 ypg.
Defensively, EMU is ranked 121st out of 123 FBS schools in total defense with 529.8 yards allowed per outing. It is one spot back in scoring defense having surrendered 45.6 ppg. The past two weeks have been humbling for coach English's team, getting torched for 658 total yards by Northern Illinois before Toledo racked up 729 yards in last week's setback.
The Eagles' defense should be a little more successful against WMU's offense, which does not compare to the likes of the Huskies and Rockets. Roback and Terrell could both be the quarterbacks of the future for these schools as they try to develop from the lower depths of the MAC into competitors. Although neither team has much to play for at this point in the season, rivalry games rarely lack energy and effort.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 38, Eastern Michigan 35
Saturday, November 9, 1 p.m. (et)