Friday November 25, will see the Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-4), return to Ypsilanti to take on their cross state rival, the Central Michigan Chippewas (4-7) in a battle for the Michigan MAC Trophy. The Eagles are riding the high of a strong win last week in which they defeated Kent State 31-24. On the other hand, the Chippewas have to bounce back after a devastating snow bowl loss to rival Western Michigan. Although Eastern has has a spectacular year under head coach Chris Creighton, they enter the game as underdogs at home. On the other hand, Central Michigan has shown flashes of positive direction all season, but failed to capitalize on wins. Despite what many think, the betting line favors the Chippewas by 2 points! A shocking, but fair evaluation as Central has had a firm grasp on the rivalry for years.
Michigan MAC Trophy on the Line:
Many college football teams battle for a trophy in rivalry matchups. Eastern and Central are no different. Every year, they battle for the Michigan MAC Trophy and, of course, bragging rights. The twist here is that unlike most famous rivalries, this is between three schools. Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan all compete for the trophy each year, with the best head-to-head record determining the winner. The Michigan MAC Trophy is one of the only rivalry awards like this, sharing that format with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, the Florida Cup, and Beehive Boot respectively.
In the past, Eastern has gone on runs with the trophy, but holds the least wins amongst the three schools. On the other hand, Central-who currently holds the trophy-is competing with Western for all time trophy wins. A win on Friday would tie them for the lead. Both teams would clinch the Michigan MAC Trophy with a win in this game. With a lot on the line in this matchup, the two rivals are sure to have a heated competition.
Eagles Soaring Towards a Win:
Eastern has been one of the best teams in the MAC all season long. They’ve had a complete turnaround under head coach Chris Creighton, in which they have secured appearances in five bowl games in the last six seasons. Eastern’s bowl securing win over Akron also made EMU eligible for four straight bowl games, a program record. A win over Central on Friday would give the team an eight win season for the first time since 1987 and give the shared title of the MAC West championship.
Led by a dominating offense, the Eagles looked to be the clear favorite. Putting up 20+ points in 11 of their last 12 games showed why Eastern was a force to be reckoned with. For Eastern to win, they will rely on their amazing third down offense to keep them on the field, punishing defenses with a strong run game and long drives. Samson Evans, Eastern’s star senior running back, has been a huge reason for that offensive power. Rushing for 949-yards so far this season, he has torn up MAC defenses all season long. With Central’s weak rushing defense, powering up the middle with Evans is an easy way to find the endzone.
Central Michigan Surging, Despite a Tough Season:
A complete inverse from the Eagles, Central Michigan has had a rocky season in 2022. Sitting in the middle of the MAC West, behind each of their in-state rivals, is not where they expected to be this season. For Central, a win here would at least restore some faith in the leadership and retain the Michigan MAC Trophy for the Chippewas.
Favored on the road, the Chippewas have proven to be a tough team to play. Each contest is up for grabs and normally comes down to the final possession. In fact, the Chippewas have played in four one-possession games this season. That ranks 12th in college football. Ahead of them though, with seven one-possession games, are the Eastern Michigan Eagles meaning this is bound to be a shootout.
The real concern for Central is their quarterback situation. Starter Daniel Richardson has been fantastic, passing for almost 2,000-yards and 15 touchdowns, but his job has slowly been taken away from him with amazing rushing performances from young QB Bert Emanuel. With the QB controversy on the forefront of talks for the Chippewas, their has created some miscommunications between offensive players. Emanuel started against Western last week, but failed to capture the win. If the Chips want a chance against the Eagles, Richardson and his experience will be their best bet.