Two one-win teams each look for their first conference victory of the season when Miami University football takes on Eastern Michigan University this weekend.
EMU (1-8, 0-5 Mid-American Conference) last won Sept. 2 in a 48-29 blowout against University of Wyoming. Miami’s only win is a 26-7 victory against Presbyterian College in Week 1.
“Their record doesn’t show what kind of a team they are,” freshman quarterback Billy Bahl said. “They’ve played some pretty good teams, I mean, they played LSU, most of the MAC teams and the same teams we’ve played.”
The Eagles gave up 24 points on turnovers in last week’s 58-28 loss to Western Michigan University. They were guilty of two interceptions and a pair of lost fumbles.
Senior linebacker Kent Kern said Miami’s defense needs to focus more on turnovers. In MU’s 29-25 loss to State University of New York Buffalo last week, senior safety Brison Burris had a pick-6. Miami could have notched a couple more interceptions, but the potential picks slipped through secondary members’ hands.
“We have to continue to play fast and hard and focus for an entire game,” Kern said. “Getting a lot of those turnovers is just about finishing plays. Instead of just making the tackle, tackle and strip and try to get a fumble.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Brogan Roback leads an Eagles’ offense that averages 27.4 points and 414.8 yards per game. He’s completed 166 of 263 attempts for 1808 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Five of his targets have at least 20 catches.
Senior running back Darius Jackson is one of the best backs in the MAC, ranking first in the conference in rushing yards (894) and second in rushing touchdowns (12). He averages 99.3 yards per game, which is 21st in the country.
“They’re actually a pretty good football team if you watch them on film,” Kern said. “They have a really potent offense and they go fast. They struggle a little on defense, I know, but they’ve had a lot of close games where the scores don’t really show how close they are. So they’re a lot better than their record shows.”
Eastern Michigan has the worst defense against the run in the country, allowing opponents 333.6 rushing yards per game and 36 total rushing touchdowns. Miami’s run game is fairly inconsistent, as the RedHawks have rushed for less than 100 yards in three of their last six games.
“It’s not just on the running backs, it’s the whole offense,” Bahl said. “Week by week, we just gotta keep getting better and putting our offense and running backs in situations where we can succeed in the run plays. Once we get the running game going, it opens a lot of things for the pass game.”
Bahl is 65-for-158 for 924 yards, four touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. Sophomore Sam Martin leads wide receivers with 508 yards on 26 catches.
“Defense is doing a lot this week to stop [EMU] and give us good chances,” Bahl said. “As long as we keep moving and protect the ball and put points on the board, I think we have a good chance to win this game.”
Miami is 17-4 all-time versus Eastern Michigan and has won the last seven meetings. EMU’s last win in the series was a 15-7 victory in 1993.
Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Yager Stadium.