Paycheck Game #2: Preview
Eastern Michigan finishes their BCS tour on Saturday with a visit to scenic New Jersey for a battle with the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Rutgers is a part of the unfortunately named American Athletic Conference, as generic and tedious a name as you will find. I mean, it’s in America, it involves athletics, and it’s a conference! It practically names itself!
Conference names are their own interesting snapshot of American group think, but since the modern conference has little to no geographic sensibility anymore, we are left with generic names like Conference USA, American Athletic Conference, as well as a Big Ten with fourteen teams and a Big 12 with ten. Our Mid-American Conference (as well as others like the Mountain West) seems quaint, although the last time anyone thought of Buffalo as “mid-America” was probably 1825.
Rutgers was apparently so offended by the sheer banality of their conference name that they agreed to a life sentence of doormat status in the Big Ten. Next year, Rutgers will be in a division with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State. The program is in for some pain.
I’m sure dropping a bomb on EMU will temporarily delay the pain. Rutgers is in a weak conference that also has AQ status in the BCS. Rutgers will want to strike while the iron is hot, conference championships in the Big Ten will be difficult to come by.
Eastern has to expand on what they have done so far this season. The passing game needs to find a way to provide more yardage. To this point there has been zero big play capability from the offense. Bronson Hill could change that, but for now Hill seems reduced to negotiating his way into small spaces and getting a three or four yard gain at best. If the line could just provide him with a little more room to operate, Hill could break a big run.
Unfortunately, Eastern’s short roll out passing game allows the defense to crowd the box. They are keying on Hill, and until a credible downfield passing attack is incorporated into the offense, I fear we will see another week of minimal point production.
Defensively, Eastern has been a bit better than anticipated, but Rutgers will be a tall order. In regards to the kicking game, what happened last week better have been an anomaly, if this offense gets into field goal range the field goal unit has to cash in. EMU is not good enough to win while leaving points on the table.
As for the game, I think Eastern will have a better showing this week, but still not enough to make it close. My prediction: Rutgers 34, Eastern Michigan 14.