The Eastern Michigan University football team finished in walk-off fashion last week as they knocked off the UMass Minutemen, 19-17, in the final minute of the game to improve to 2-1 on the season. Meanwhile, Jacksonville State University dealt with a different outcome as they suffered a defeat to Coastal Carolina, 30-16.
Heading into this week, the Eagles will head down south to sweet home Alabama as they face off against the Rich Rodriguez-led Gamecocks of Jacksonville State.
Here is your full game preview, as well as how to watch and what to watch for:
Spread: Jacksonville State -6.5
Over/Under: 52.5 points
ESPN Analytics: Jacksonville State 72.6% chance to win
What to watch, keys to success
EMU: A major key to success to get it done in Jacksonville for EMU will be to show improvement on the offensive end because now is the time to improve. For a team with high expectations within the MAC coming into the season, the offensive attack hasn’t been quite the story for this group. Averaging 19.3 points per game so far this year, the Eagles rank 127th in the nation for total offense. They carry a very balanced approach, averaging 134.0 passing yards per game while rushing for 133.0 yards per game, but the efficiency isn’t all there. EMU ranks 129th out of 130 for total first downs, while only converting 32.5% on third downs. To beat the Gamecocks, improvement will need to occur, especially with conference play on deck.
Another key for the Eagles will be on the defensive side of the ball; staying aggressive while keeping mistakes very minimal. EMU is averaging eight penalties a game this season after racking up 10 against UMass a week ago, which is something head coach Chris Creighton touched on in his press conference. With the amount of star power this defense carries, if they can limit the penalties to a championship football-esque five or less, it should be no problem stopping the Gamecocks offense.
Jacksonville State: A key for Jacksonville State, coining the term ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ will be to run the ball. The Gamecocks have been exceptional in the run game, averaging 210.3 rushing yards per game so far this year. Their offense has scored a total of 10 touchdowns this season, and nine of those have been rushing touchdowns, while also having three players with at least 100 total rushing yards this season. The Eagles defense hasn’t done a great job in defending the run, as they rank 123rd in the country for rushing yards allowed per game (208.0), so if you want to beat them, there’s the kryptonite.
Samson Evans on the brink of history: With EMU running back Samson Evans sitting at 30 career touchdowns, just two behind EMU football's all-time leader Gary Patton with 32, Evans has the chance to make history on Saturday becoming the Eagles all-time career touchdown leader if he finds the endzone twice.
Check out the full story on Evans' potential achievement: Evans eyes Eagles career touchdown record