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EMU is One Win Away From MAC West Division Lead
If EMU wins, it'll lead the MAC West. If EMU loses, it'll fall the fourth place.
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Believe it or not, with just one more win, Eastern Michigan could find itself in the driver’s seat of the MAC West divisional race. Toledo comes to Ypsilanti on Saturday for a battle that could determine EMU’s fate within the division.
MAC West standings
Toledo: 5-3 overall, 3-1 MAC
EMU: 5-3 overall, 2-2 MAC
WMU: 3-5 overall, 2-2 MAC
Ball State: 4-4 overall, 2-2 MAC
CMU: 2-6 overall, 1-3 MAC
NIU: 2-6 overall, 1-3 MAC
While Eastern Michigan hasn’t played its best football at all points of the season, but it’s still positioned well enough to be one game away from doing something it’s never done before: be atop the MAC West.
EMU opened its MAC schedule with a whopping 50-31 loss at home to Buffalo, 45-23 win at Western Michigan, 39-10 loss to Northern Illinois last week, then a 20-16 win at Ball State yesterday. EMU won its road MAC games, but lost by 29 in each of its home conference games.
Toledo came into the weekend with a 3-0 MAC record with wins over Central Michigan (38-17), NIU (52-32), and Kent State (52-31), but dropped its first conference game to Buffalo (34-27) which is still perfect in MAC play.
There’s a lot at stake for both EMU and Toledo, and what should make the divisional showdown even bigger is the fact that it’s the only MAC West game of the weekend. The MAC’s going to transition into midweek games as we move to November, and in doing so there are just two MAC games this weekend: EMU’s home game and Miami at Akron.
Both games are noon kicks.
If EMU is able to beat Toledo Saturday, then both teams would sit atop the MAC West with 3-2 records, but EMU of course would have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage.
If Toledo beats Eastern, then Toledo would remain atop the division at 4-1 while EMU would be in fourth place at 2-3.
That’s quite the range of outcomes for a limited slate of games.
As for the rest of the West teams, Ball State, CMU, NIU and WMU are all on byes this week, so they’ll all have 2-2 or 1-2 MAC records until their midweek games begin the first week of November. Of those Tuesday and Wednesday games, Ball State will play at Kent State, WMU will play at Bowling Green, then CMU at NIU will split a 1-3 tie at the bottom of the division.
Ball State’s next game could put the Cardinals either at 3-2 with a win or 2-3 with a loss to the Golden Flashes. WMU, which just beat the MAC East preseason favorite Miami, is in a similar position as Ball State with a 2-2 MAC record and an East road game coming up (BG).
With the second half of MAC play to go, there are still a number of different ways this divisional race could shake up. There’s still a chance that EMU could win the West with a 6-2 record in league play. There’s still a chance everything comes down to a 4-way tie with 5-3 MAC teams.
Heck, a 5-way tie with teams that are 5-3 in MAC play is still technically on the table. As unlikely as that chaos scenario could be, it’s still a possibility.
How many wins are left on the remainder of EMU’s schedule?
This Saturday EMU plays home to Toledo, gets a Saturday bye before back-to-back midweek MACtion road trips to Akron (1-7, 0-4 MAC), then at Kent State (3-5, 2-2 MAC), and will conclude the season with a home game on Black Friday against CMU (2-6, 1-3 MAC).
The Rockets have been playing very good football throughout the season, and it looked like that team was going to run away with the division until the fourth quarter against Buffalo. The Rockets turned the ball over six times and squandered a 27-10 fourth-quarter lead by letting up 24 unanswered points.
The last time EMU hosted a MAC team that surrendered a ton of turnovers in a loss the week before, EMU ended up losing to that team. NIU threw four interceptions against Toledo the week before the team came to Rynearson Stadium for a huge win.
EMU’s roster is banged up, it’s had efficiency problems on both sides of the ball, and Chris Creighton has already admitted twice that he’s been out-coached on his own home turf this season. Still, EMU’s in a position where if it wins its next handful of games, then this team will get to shift its conversation and talk about its best season ever, and it happened in a turnaround fashion that nobody ever expected to see.