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Eastern Michigan? Just What the Doctor Ordered

Ball_St helmetEastern_Michigan
Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan

Time: 1:00
Location: Ypsilanti, MI
Television: BSUSports.com All Access

doctorHi Coach! What seems to be the trouble. Need those little blue pills? Maybe a PSA?
stansmall I’m sure you’d like that. But no! It’s so painful!!! These losses!!!
doctor Let me check your chart. Hmmm… Wait. That’s not good. North Texas? New Hampshire? What the hell?!
stansmall We had injuries! We had a new system. I have a plan!!!
doctor Yeah? What’s that? Hope these other teams just get tired of scooping fumbles or catching interceptions and they drop dead from exhaustion? OH!!! Nailed it! They should call me McFunny!
stansmall Look Doc… can you help me or not? Or did you spend all that time primping your feathered hair as opposed to studying?
doctor Actually, Stan… I think I have just the thing. Take an Eastern Michigan and call me in the morning.

If only it were that easy, Derek. While Ball State fans and supporters will tell you that Saturday’s game is imperative to the future success of the program, a more convincing argument could be made that a victory on Saturday does far more for EMU, who has a coach that is unproven, with no track record, and a history of mediocrity reaching to the last decade. While Stan has certainly seen abysmal results as a head coach, the teams he was on have certainly done well, from Michigan to Tampa Bay, to the last few Ball State teams. Is he a has been? Debatable. But better to be a Parrish-esque has been than a Ron English-esque never was.

The cynics of the MAC or those that simply want to hurl insults and commentary without any sort of logic will point to this EMU-BSU contest as a prime reason why the MAC is a forgotten step-child of FBS football. Both are winless, I agree, but it’s important to remember that not all winless teams are created equal.

For Ball State they’ve battled the departure of key components on offense, a new defensive scheme, a nearly entirely new coaching staff, and a slew of injuries on offense including starting QB Kelly Page. The fanbase is in shambles, the student body trending towards apathetic, and the things that BSU faithful thought indisputable like a Parrish offense scoring points or Quale Lewis running roughshod over the defense suddenly is quite up in the air.

The same injury bug has bitten Eastern Michigan, as senior QB Andy Schmitt was taken down the 3rd game of this season with the dreaded ACL tear. Schmitt was a threat for the Eagles, and they now split duties between Alex Gillett and Kyle McMahon. For EMU they have faced impressive competition this season, traveling to Michigan and Northwestern, only losing to the Wildcats by 3. Since that close one, though, it hasn’t been pretty. The lowlight certainly has been their 56-8 drubbing at the hands of Central Michigan.

The interesting thing when it comes to schedules is the fact that the common opponents between these two played at Eastern Michigan while BSU faced both Army and Temple on the road. Each game’s outcome was closer for the Cardinals, as BSU lost to Temple 24-19 and Army 24-17 compared to EMU’s 27-14 Temple loss and their 24-12 loss to Army.

The stats favor Ball State as well, as EMU does nothing particularly well, and teams continue to run over, around, and essentially straight over top of this EMU defense to the tune of nearly 300 yards per game on the ground. Ironic when you consider Ron English was a defensive coordinator before this job, not ironic when you remember how bad his defenses were.

The key to this Saturday’s game? Rushing. Quale Lewis, Eric Williams, and Cory Sykes must be the saving grace for this Cardinals team to have any hope of winning. Let’s see what won’t be a factor:

  • The pressure packed television production crew and cameras!
  • The hundreds and hundreds of fans!
  • Any sort of Bowl aspirations, scouts, or invitations

It is truly a shame that for one of these teams, their season, their attitudes, and their atmosphere will be changed, perhaps only temporarily, but no one outside of the several thousand there and the hundreds watching at home will even be able to see it. Probably even fewer will notice on Sunday morning when the recap gets published across the country. I certainly hope that the lack of attention, support, or festivity will take anything away from a group of young men and a staff that has certainly endured enough already to earn a week off from the kerfuffle.

On the prediction front, Edge tosses up a 21-20 Ball State win, and I will forecast a 14-10 Ball State win. At this point, and with this team, it’s really just as effective to pull random numbers out of a hat considering no performance whatsoever, from the horribly ineffective to an explosive offense-gasm, would remotely surprise me at this point.

For your musical stylings this afternoon, let’s pick a little Bruce. Since Ypsilanti is a town full of losers and Ball State’s pulling out of here to win.

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