Game-by-game predictions for Eastern Michigan’s 2009 football season. Call it bulletin-board material or an attempt at real-life prophecy, but either way Souva says:
7 p.m. today vs. ARMY
WIN – In Ron English’s head coaching debut, EMU will be riding high on the optimism train. This game is a reality check, though, and will depend on the effectiveness of Army’s triple-option offense. Army ran for 341 yards in a 17-13 win in the matchup last season, but don’t underestimate the motivational factor of revenge.
11 a.m. Sept. 12 at NORTHWESTERN
LOSS – Eastern doesn’t have much to lose in this game, as all the pressure will be on Northwestern. The Eagles are going to be underdogs to the bigger, stronger Big Ten opponent. NU’s offensive line averages 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, and its defensive line is anchored by future NFL draft pick Corey Wootton.
Noon Sept. 19 at MICHIGAN
LOSS – English, who coached at U-M from 2003-07, will not have a happy return to the Big House. Despite all the off-the-field issues going on in Ann Arbor, U-M is still superior. Rich Rodriguez’s speedy spread offense, no matter who’s playing quarterback by this time, will be too much to contain for the EMU defense.
1 p.m. Oct. 3 vs. TEMPLE
WIN – Temple won a 55-52 shootout last season, but the score will be considerably lower this time around. Eastern has installed a pro-style offense, which should allow it to control the game more and keep its defense off the field unlike last season’s spread offense. EMU opens the Mid-American Conference season on a good note with an upset win on homecoming. Temple was picked to finish second in the MAC East.
Noon Oct. 10 at CENTRAL MICHIGAN
LOSS – Under former coach Jeff Genyk, the Eagles dominated Central Michigan. During his tenure, they won four out of five years, including another shootout (56-52) last season. Don’t expect another high-scoring affair, at least not from the Eagles. If Central and dual-threat, future NFL quarterback Dan LeFevour have their way, don’t be surprised if this game isn’t close for the first time in a long time.
4 p.m. Oct. 17 vs. KENT STATE
LOSS – The teams haven’t met since 2006, a season in which Eastern went a dreadful 1-11. Kent State won that game 14-6. That was a long time ago, and certainly things have changed since then. But KSU has a very experienced defense, especially up the middle and at cornerback. This will be a hindrance for an EMU offense in transition. Should be a close game.
1 p.m. Oct. 24 vs. BALL STATE
WIN – Ball State was the class of the conference last season until the championship loss to Buffalo, but it lost a lot of players, including four on the offensive line. One of the few skill players returning, but arguably the most important, is tailback Miquale Lewis. He rushed for a school-record 1,736 yards last season. Eastern was picked to finish last in the MAC West; and which team was finished to pick second to last? Ball State. Again, this game will be close.
TBA Oct. 31 at ARKANSAS
LOSS – No chance. It’ll be a great experience for the team to play in front of a packed Southeastern Conference crowd against superior talent. But, in all reality, this game is simply a big-payday for EMU and a late, cupcake win for Arkansas.
6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at NORTHERN ILLINOIS
LOSS – Northern Illinois absolutely dominated the game between the two last season. In fact, it was a 31-0 blowout on a rainy EMU homecoming. NIU’s defense was strong, allowing 18 points a game, but first-round NFL draft pick Larry English is no longer there to be the anchor. Shouldn’t be that much of a difference in this game.
1 p.m. Nov. 14 vs. WESTERN MICHIGAN
LOSS – Eastern will have trouble stopping Western Michigan’s offense and its leader Tim Hiller, who’s another future NFL quarterback. WMU rolled to a 31-10 victory last season, and don’t expect the home crowd, which will be really slim by this point, to be much a difference this time around.
7 p.m. Nov. 20 at TOLEDO
WIN – Toledo is lousy and, pending any significant injuries, Eastern should have no problem taking care of business for a rare road win. Keep an eye on Toledo’s Aaron Opelt, one of many experienced quarterbacks in the conference.
TBA Nov. 27 at AKRON
LOSS – In the season finale at Akron’s new InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, Eastern will have a rough ending to a semi-turnaround season. Akron should be bowl eligible this time and have no problem taking care of EMU.
FINAL RECORD: 4-8