Heading into the final week of the non-conference portion of the schedule for the Eastern Michigan football team and the rest of the MAC, both divisions of the conference are tight from top to bottom. None of the 14 teams are undefeated but three programs lead the way with a 2-1 record. Those teams are Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. The Eagles are fresh off an upset victory over then-undefeated Illinois.
"I think our minds were right. It was the third week in a row with a long trip but our guys handle that. It wasn't perfect," said Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton. "We're really talking about solidifying our identity. It got close at the end but we were able to pull it out."
After a tough third week of play for the MAC East division in which every team lost, there is a five-way tie at the top of the standings with Buffalo, Miami, Bowling Green, Ohio and Kent State with records of 1-2. The University of Akron sits alone in sixth place with a record of 0-3. They have losses to Illinois, UAB and Central Michigan.
The MAC West division is also featuring a tie at the top spot with Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Western Michigan all with records of 2-1. Toledo has a record of 1-1 as they've already had a bye week. Ball State and Northern Illinois with records of 1-2 are both looking to narrow the gap for the top spot in the division.
With a chance for Miami to remain atop the east, the RedHawks travel north to Columbus to take on the top recruit of the 2018 class, quarterback Justin Fields and the sixth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Bowling Green faces off against Kent State in conference play while Ohio hosts Louisiana-Lafayette. Buffalo will play host to Temple University and the Akron Zips will welcome in the Trojans of Troy University.
Western Michigan heads to Syracuse of the ACC to take on the Orange who are looking to bounce back from their 35-point blowout loss at the hands of Trevor Lawrence and the reigning national champions Clemson. Central Michigan and Northern Illinois both have the week off. Meanwhile, Toledo travels to Colorado State to take on the Rams.
Toledo head coach Jason Candle spoke on his team's 38-24 loss to Kentucky and what he expects from the Rockets going forward: “I’m really proud of our effort. They (Kentucky) are a good team and a proud program and they weren’t going to let Toledo beat them. But I give a lot of credit to our guys for being in the game and we just didn’t make a couple of plays down the stretch. All in all, for our first game, I thought our attention to detail was really good. But there’s stuff that we have to improve on."
With hopes of staying atop the MAC West, Eastern Michigan opens up the home portion of their schedule as they face off against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. The Eagles head into the game with a shot at getting to 3-1 for the second time in the last four seasons. Eastern Michigan comes in the matchup as 33-point favorites.
"The conditions change but I think the preparation for the week stays the same. We'll still practice on our regular schedule. We'll still work hard and hope for 1-0 result this weekend," said tight end Thomas Odukoya. "It's been great. Our depth has improved a lot I believe. There are a lot of guys that can come in. A lot of the second string guys performed just as well as the first string guys this week so it's a really good thing for our offense."
The stakes are being raised as teams prepare for conference play.