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Eastern Michigan (1-0) at Purdue (0-1) Preview

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Bring on the Eagles!

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

MACtion is the divine right of Big Ten teams. It seems like each team in the league gets at least one game against a MAC team every season. For the most part it is a chance to handle business and get a relatively easy win in a buy game, but the MAC is a good enough conference that it can bite. There is usually at least one MAC over Big Ten upset each season and it often comes when the better MAC teams play one of the worse Big Ten teams. We almost had one last week as Kent State led Illinois at halftime by two touchdowns before falling late.

Purdue has been a victim, too. We’re 42-12-1 all-time against the MAC, but many of those losses came during the Hazell/Hope era. After Joe Tiller dominated the league Danny Hope was 3-2 against the league. Hazell was even worse at 1-3, including the worst loss ever by a Big Ten program to a MAC team at 55-24 against Northern Illinois.

Last season Jeff Brohm returned things to normal. Ohio was a very good team at 9-4, but Purdue beat them comfortably 44-21 in the home opener. Now he gets another shot at a MAC team that is respectable, but one Purdue should beat.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

2017 Record: 5-7, 3-5 MAC

2018 Record: 1-0

Bowl Result: None

Blog Representation: Hustle Belt

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 2-0

Last Purdue win: 54-16 at Purdue on 9/15/2012

Last Eastern Michigan win: None

Head Coach: Chris Creighton (15-34 in 5th season at EMU)

Eastern Michigan had a very easy opener last week. They hosted FCS lightweight Monmouth and rolled to a 30-0 lead before giving up any points. The final score was 51-17, but it was never really in doubt. The Eagles had 473 yards of total offense, threw for 302, and did not commit a turnover. Monmouth was 9-3 a year ago and at least made the FCS playoffs, so they were a decent FCS team. They were still an FCS team.

Who to Watch on Offense

Tyler Wiegers – QB – Wiegers is a graduate transfer from Iowa, where he completed just 4 of 6 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown during the first four years of his career. With Nathan Stanley locking down the job, Wiegers moved on to Ypsilanti. He had a good debut last week with 238 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 19 yards on 3 carries.

Shaq Vann – RB – Vann led the Eagles on the ground last week with 46 yards, but the senior from South bend has over 1,000 in his career.

Ian Eriksen – RB – Another senior and high school classmate of our own Tim Cason, Eriksen had 44 yards rushing last week and he has over 1,600 in his career with 17 touchdowns.

Blake Banham – WR – Banham moved from running back to receiver and he had a career day against Monmouth. He finished with 8 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown, giving the passing game a much needed boost.

Who to Watch on Defense

Kobie Beltram – LB – The junior linebacker is a JuCo transfer from San Francisco and he had a solid first game at the FBS level. He fnished with 9 tackles and half a sack to lead the Eagles last week.

Justin Moody – DB – Moody was very active in the defensive backfield. He finished the Monmouth game with 8 tackles and one for a loss. He is a senior that has been with the program a while and started 10 games last season.

Kyle Rachwal – LB – A preseason Fourth Team all-MAC selection, Rachwal had 4 four tackles, one for loss, and an interception a week ago. He has been a starter for the past two seasons and played extensively as a freshman reserve in 2015.

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Jake Julien – P – Julien had just three punts last week, but averaged an impressive 48.67 yards per kick with a long of 58.

Chad Ryland – K – Ryland connected on his only field goal attempt and it was from 33 yards. Not bad for a freshman making his collegiate debut.

Game Outlook

If Purdue is going to make a bowl game this season this is a game that is an absolute must win. We don’t have many easy ones on the schedule. This is as easy as things will get. That’s not to say it will be easy, it just means EMU is one of the weaker opponents we have. I have a hard time seeing a winning season if we lose this.

Really, this is a game for Purdue to work on things. We did not have any pass rush at all against Northwestern, so this is a chance to work on it in live action. If we’re going to settle the David Blough vs. Elijah Sindelar debate this is a game for one to seize the job. I’d like to see the running game do a little better, but the DJ Knox and Markell Jones duo combined for almost 100 yards and a TD last week.

I expect Purdue to pull away in this one, especially in the second half. The biggest problems against Northwestern were turnovers and penalties. This is a chance to correct that because we have two big games coming up at home after this. We were far from clean against Northwestern and likely beat ourselves with mistakes. A turnover free game with fewer penalties will be a great sign before Missouri, especially if the defense can generate a turnover or two.