Echo writers predict Eagles upcoming season

The Eastern Michigan football team opens their season today against Old Dominion so the Echo Sports football beat writers, Robert Hull and Thomas Bieszk, made their predictions for the season ahead.

WEEK 1: vs. Old Dominion

Thomas: WIN (1-0)

A new season bring a new opportunity, and EMU will come out of the gates ready to play. The Eagles barely lost Old Dominion last season by a score of 17-3 after a couple special teams mistakes. 

Entering his second season at the helm, Coach Creighton should have some of those mistakes ironed out and, added with better talent for the system, ready for a big opening day game at home.

Robert: WIN (1-0)

Coach Creighton is undefeated in season openers as the head coach of EMU! 

Okay, so 1-0 isn’t much, but I think the rematch from last season will fall in Eastern Michigan’s favor. EMU did a great job in shutting down Old Dominion’s heavy passing game last year and the defense does look to be vastly improved from last year for EMU. 

ODU lost a majority of their defense and biggest playmakers on offense from a year ago, which will work in EMU’s favor, especially in week one.

WEEK 2: at Wyoming

Thomas: LOSS (1-1)

The Eagles head out west to face Wyoming and while the Eagles may make it competitive, the Cowboys find comfort in their mountainous home field and should exploit weaknesses in Eagles' pass defense.

Robert: LOSS (1-1)

This is a great early season matchup for EMU. Wyoming is out of a quality football conference in the Mountain West. 

The Cowboys return their leading receivers from a year ago in 6’2 Tanner Gentry and 6’6 Jake Maulhardt, who combined for 53 catches and 709 total yards. At quarterback, Wyoming received a huge dual-threat transfer from Indiana in Cameron Coffman. 

EMU keeps this one fairly close but falls just short.

WEEK 3: vs. Ball State

Thomas: LOSS (1-2)

The Eagles have lost to Ball State in four straight seasons, and I will take the Cardinals this time around to make it five straight. 

Although Ball State will most likely finish around the middle of the pack in the MAC, they are still further along in the state of their program than EMU is, and that gives them the edge.

Robert: LOSS (1-2)

This is the biggest game of the season for EMU, which seems odd because it’s only week three. 

This is the turning point game where if EMU can win it, changes the direction of EMU football for the rest of the season, and maybe even long term. 

Ball State has won 5 straight games at Rynearson Stadium but there’s a catch; three of those games were by two points or less. Ball State also returns 18 of 22 starters from a year ago. This game could very well be decided in overtime.

WEEK 4: vs. Army

Thomas: WIN (2-2)

The Eagles will need to bring their good cleats to this one to hold up against the run game since Army, like pretty much all military academies, will run the ball around 90 percent of the time. 

In fact, in the 2013 matchup between these two schools, Army rushed for a school record 513 yards. 

However, I will take the Eagles in this one with better linebackers in Anthony Zappone and Great Ibe leading the defense this time around.

Robert: WIN (2-2)

Here’s some very good news for EMU: Terry Baggett graduated! 

The Eagles had nightmares of Baggett, who in 2013 ran all over the EMU defense, setting Army school records. The team that controls the ball and ends up with the most amount of rushing yards will win this game. 

I think EMU’s defensive line and linebacking core is too strong and there is too much talent in the EMU backfield including Reggie Bell at QB. EMU wins this game on the ground.

WEEK 5: at LSU

Thomas: LOSS (2-3)

Although I should be fair to the team I cover in EMU, I'm not real sure if I need to explain the reasoning around this. 

MAC versus SEC schools are the equivalent of David versus Goliath. 

This will be one of those games gamblers take the "over" on.

Robert: LOSS (2-3)

It’s the first time EMU and LSU have met in football. 

LSU has won 5 straight games against MAC schools by the average score of 45-7. Playing these powerhouse teams have rarely ended well for Eastern. 

Last year EMU lost to Florida 65-0, and Michigan State 73-14. I don’t think this year will be as severe as those.

WEEK 6: vs. Akron

Thomas: LOSS (2-4)

EMU lost to Akron last season 31-6 and even though I believe the Eagles will be much more competitive this season, there is still going to be a struggle to score. 

Akron boasts a strong defense and it will carry the team to a win as it did last season.

Robert: LOSS (2-4)

Akron is a very underrated team coming into the 2015 season. 

I believe the Zips might have the best defense in the MAC, which isn’t saying much in a conference where offense means everything. Akron has quite a few transfers that have come in to help on defense for this season. 

Akron also has one of the best power running backs in the MAC in Conor Hundley who breaks the first tackle or makes the first guy miss nine times out of ten.

WEEK 7: at Toledo

Thomas: LOSS (2-5)

Here is where the schedule begins to get extremely tough. 

Toledo is a top three team in the MAC and has had EMU's number over the past number of years. The Rockets are a much more talented team and will have it on display again here.

Robert: LOSS (2-5)

Toledo has had Eastern Michigan on lockdown for years. 

The last time EMU beat Toledo was in 2006 when the Eagles defeated the Rockets 17-13. The Rockets have a lot of good skill position players on offense and all around a good defense. 

Kareem Hunt has proven he is one of the best running backs in the conference and will more than likely find a spot on an NFL roster one day.

WEEK 8: at Northern Illinois

Thomas: LOSS (2-6)

The Eagles gave the Huskies a run for their money last season, competing in what ended up being a 28-17 NIU win where EMU did also have a lead in the fourth quarter.

We may see more of the same in the 2015 matchup, the Eagles will, again, fall just short. NIU is the class of the MAC and will continue to do so until someone unseats them permanently.

Robert: LOSS (2-6)

I still can’t believe this game is over from last year. I still think we had a chance at winning even though the game is long over. 

Eastern Michigan played its best football last season against Northern Illinois and was just a few plays away from winning this game. EMU was leading the Huskies 17-14 in the fourth quarter, but like Toledo, Northern Illinois has a lot of talent at the skill positions and one of the better defenses in the conference.

WEEK 9: vs. Western Michigan

Thomas: LOSS (2-7)

While the stage is set for an EMU upset on national television, it just isn't in the cards this time around. WMU showed an amazing turnaround last season going 8-5 under PJ Fleck after struggling to a 1-11 record the previous year. 

Also add in the Broncos returning star running back Jarvion Franklin, who earned both MAC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year after scoring a MAC freshman record with 24 rushing touchdowns, and you have a long night for the Eagles defense.

Robert: WIN (3-6)

Thursday night, under the lights, in "The Factory", on national TV. 

It doesn’t get any better than that, especially against Western Michigan. EMU will have the bigger chip on their shoulder coming into this game after losing 51-7 to the Broncos last year. 

This is one of those games EMU throws everything they have at Western.

WEEK 10: at Miami OH

Thomas: WIN (3-7)

The little losing streak I have comes to an end here in Miami, Ohio. 

The Redhawks are around the same point in its program as EMU is, but the Eagles will take this one. Miami is a very young team and doesn't have what little talent they did have is gone, namely defensive back Quinten Rollins, who was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in May.

Robert: WIN (4-6)

Miami is coming off a 2-10 season of their own and are in the same boat as EMU with a second year head coach. 

Miami will likely have a redshirt freshman quarterback starting and not a lot of depth in the backfield. Defense will be huge for both teams here. It will come down to which offense outperforms the other. 

EMU with a big road win here.

WEEK 11: vs. Massachusetts

Thomas: WIN (4-7)

The first and very likely the last meeting between EMU and UMass, the Eagles will come out with a win. Although UMass won this matchup last season 36-14, a game where my colleague Robert outs best as UMass took advantage of their strengths against EMU's weaknesses, I think EMU will be ready for the Minutemen's pass-heavy offense this time around.

Robert: LOSS (4-7)

UMass is a smart team. Head Coach Mark Whipple and his staff may not have the most talented team in the MAC, but they are smart, which can also win games. UMass returns just about everybody from last year and the passing game is going to be a big part in their success.


WEEK 13: at Central Michigan

Thomas: WIN (5-7)

After struggling through a tough midseason schedule with what I believe will end up as a five-game losing streak, the Eagles will finish strong with a three-game win streak including a win over in-state rival Central Michigan. 

The Chippewas have produced some NFL talent over the past couple seasons, but now is in a transition year with new head coach John Bonamego. 

EMU will take advantage of CMU's transition and finish the season on a positive note.

Robert: LOSS (4-8)

There are a lot of questions about Central Michigan football going into this season with a new coach and quite a few new faces starting for the Chippewas. 

The offensive line of CMU will be one of the strongest parts of the team this season. I think this meeting will be fairly close. 

We want to know, what are your predictions for the Eagles this season?

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