Ohio might have a little life in it, after all.
After receiving a shot in the arm in the form of a 35-33 win over Miami last week, Ohio is packing up and hitting the road. It’ll travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to take on Eastern Michigan on Tuesday for the first time in four years.
The Bobcats (2-7, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak last week, but they are still far from a complete team. They let Miami score 26 unanswered points in the second half and cut a 28-point lead down to just two by the end of the game.
The Eagles (6-3, 3-2 MAC) have the highest-scoring offense in the MAC through nine games. A slip-up like what Ohio experienced last week won’t be forgiven as easily.
Here’s a closer look at the Eagles ahead of Tuesday’s matchup:
All-time series: Ohio leads 19-12-1.
Last time they played: Sept. 23, 2017. The Bobcats opened their MAC schedule with a 27-20 overtime victory against the Eagles at Rynearson Stadium. After the Eagles scored on the first drive in overtime, the Bobcats responded with back-to-back touchdown drives to take the lead and ultimately secure a win. Quarterback Nathan Rourke ended the game 19-of-31 passing with 197 yards and two touchdowns, and running back A.J. Ouellette picked up 140 yards on the ground.
Eastern Michigan report: Coach Chris Creighton is in his eighth year at the helm for the Eagles and has led them to a 3-2 conference record this season. The Eagles are tied for second in the MAC West standings alongside Ball State and Central Michigan.
Eastern Michigan’s offense is a mixed bag. Despite being eighth in the conference for total offensive yards, it has the best scoring offense with an average of 34.9 points per game. It has scored 20 points or more in all but two games this season — Wisconsin and Miami — and racked up more than 50 points in each of its last two games.
The offense is spearheaded by quarterback Ben Bryant, who is one of the most dangerous passers in the conference. Through nine games, Bryant has passed for over 2000 yards this season and hasn’t had a game with fewer than 200 passing yards against MAC opponents this season.
Defensively, Eastern Michigan hovers around mediocrity. It allows 187.1 rushing yards and 237.1 passing yards per game. While Eastern Michigan has the best scoring offense in the conference, its defense allows 27.6 points on average. Last week, it allowed a season-high 49 points against Toledo.
How Ohio beats Eastern Michigan: Ohio’s pass defense managed to shut down Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert for much of the first half last week, which might be a useful springboard for its night against Bryant. Its not an immediate sign of success, however. Ohio still allows over 230 yards in the air per game, and it’s not unusual for Bryant to surpass 300 passing yards against conference opponents.
On offense, Ohio is going to need to find the stride it found against Miami. Kurtis Rourke has been passing with great efficiency in his past two games, and the receiving corps has seen the most action it has all year. If Ohio can hone the energy from its game against Miami, it’ll be able to trample a middling Eastern Michigan defense and keep up with the MAC’s highest-scoring offense.
Stat to know: 2-0. Eastern Michigan is undefeated against teams in the MAC East Division this season.
Player to watch: Jose Ramirez, defensive line, No. 55
The sophomore has left a mark on Eastern Michigan’s defensive line despite starting in just four games this season. Ramirez leads the unit with 37 total tackles and has made eight tackles for a combined loss of 30 yards. He has also recorded five sacks for a combined loss of 25 yards. In Eastern Michigan’s game against Toledo, Ramirez recorded three tackles for loss and two sacks.