Eastern Michigan @ Louisiana - A Quick Preview(ish)
Week one has come and gone, and we are already in full swing for the second of twelve weeks of college football. Ball State did about as expected a week ago at Neyland Stadium, but Coach Mike Neu is confident that there were "a lot of positives to build off of". While Ball State and Western Michigan break the seal on conference games here in Week Two, we turn our attention to Eastern Michigan, who will travel to take on the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana. This is arguably the most interesting game outside of Ball State vs Western Michigan (NIU vs Tulsa will be great too), and a good chance for both of these solid Group of Five programs to test their mettle against each other. As it stands, ESPN match up predictor is giving the Eagles just a 17.6% chance to beat Louisiana, but don't tell Chris Creighton that. Let's zoom in on the Good, the Bad, Quick Thoughts and Score Prediction. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana - (September 10, 7:00PM, NFL Network)
Eastern Michigan comes into this game 1-0, which is always how you want to start the season. Just a year ago, EMU went 7-6 and finished in the middle of the MAC West, but high scoring affairs kept them in games they had little business being in. After putting up 42 last week against Eastern Kentucky, it re-affirmed what many have suspected: Taylor Powell will be just fine in Chris Creighton's offense. Powell went 21-30 for three scores and 271 yards. Running back Samson Evans paced the rushing attack with 89 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. The Eagles offense finally had a good mix of rush and pass, and they made it work against their FCS foe. The Eagles also forced two big turnovers and despite not leading in TOP, they emerged victorious. Last week, Louisiana took on FCS SE Louisiana and had to grind in the second half to put away the Lions. They lead at the break 17-0, but SE Louisiana tried to make it interesting, shutting out the Cajuns in the third quarter while taking on their lone score of the game. Chandler Fields was sold through the air, but the run game left something to be desired if you are Michael Desormeaux. Louisiana rushed the ball for 38 times for just 133 yards. Not ideal.
The Eagles needed all they points the scored in the first half to hold off a stingy Eastern Kentucky team. The biggest red flag of the opener for EMU? Outgained in yardage, your opponent had the ball a longer, and they had more first downs. Those things do not bode well when the game against an FCS school should be a warm up rather than a dog fight. Defensively, EMU gave up an average of 5.0 yards a carry on the ground, and their corners and safeties surrendered 351 passing yards. EMU had several opportunities to put away the Colonels, but kept letting them inch closer. The final score wasn't an indicator on just how much EKU actually dominated this game. The Eagles need to have a better passing defensive plan in place this week if they want to hang with Louisiana. They also need to limit turnovers as best they can, as they suffered two of them last weekend. For the home team, Louisiana did everything right, including holding on to the ball, while creating opportunities. Sure, the yardage total leaves people scratching their head, but that doesn't mean a low yardage affair is a bad thing. When you jump out to an early lead and don't let your opponent get closer than 10 the rest of the way, you are doing something right. Chandler Fields averaged 7.8 yards through the air, which could spell doom against this Eastern secondary.
Honestly, we can't really say we learned much about either squad here in week one. Both teams won, albeit in different fashion, games against FCS opponents really don't give us much to look at. College football is a fickle game, and at the end of the day, a W is a W. That being said, Eastern Michigan and Louisiana both have things to improve on. This weeks game proves far more important for both teams moving forward and will give us a better idea of where each program is at. EMU returns more starters and their head coach, but Louisiana did finish last year 13-1, and climbed as high as 16th in the rankings. Eastern Michigan did not, but they played spoiler to several MAC schools hopes and dreams of playing in Detroit. This game could very well become the Powell-Fields dual, and with Louisiana playing at home, I think the bar swings in favor of Louisiana. Eastern Michigan will not go away without a fight, but the Eagles fly home nursing the wound of their first first loss of the season. FINAL SCORE: Eastern Michigan - 28, Louisiana - 38.