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#MACtion here as the Akron Zips travel to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Both teams enter this match a little underrated, and both have some serious offensive firepower. Eastern Michigan caught some unlucky breaks to start the year, but has gotten back on track with wins in three out of their past four. Akron has shown signs of life recently as well, but is dealing with a key injury…
Kato Nelson Injured…
The biggest thing to monitor in this game is the status of Akron quarterback Kato Nelson. Nelson was hurt during the team’s loss to Northern Illinois when he injured his ankle. Akron’s coach has labeled Nelson day-to-day, and at this point it seems like he’s on the right side of questionable for this matchup. Colleges are very tight-lipped about injuries, so we won’t know for sure until close to kickoff.
— Ken Mather (@KenMather_MAC) November 5, 2018
Akron had won two games in a row and was in good shape to knock off Northern Illinois when Nelson went down. Nelson is more than capable of pushing the ball down the field, and if he’s out or limited here it will be a massive downgrade for the Zips’ offense. Nelson is also the team’s second-leading rusher with over 300 yards on the ground, so even if he plays he probably won’t have the same rushing ability with the ankle injury.
Freshman Alex Ramart entered the game in relief of Nelson last week and was an absolute disaster. He completed just three of 12 passes and threw two interceptions. In short, the game was just about over the second Nelson left the game. If Nelson is unable to play, Eastern Michigan could run away with this game…
EMU Rounding Into Form
I was very high on this Eastern Michigan team coming into the year, but they got off to a very slow start. They were actually playing well, and just got pretty unlucky. They lost an incredible series of close games, and have only lost by more than seven points once. They’ve lost by three points three times, and have fallen in overtime twice. They impressively beat Purdue in Week 2, and have overall looked like a very solid team.
After a few early close losses, they’ve now rebounded to win three of four. Senior quarterback Tyler Wiegers has been playing pretty well recently and the defense has been great, limiting Central Michigan to just seven points in their most recent game.
The Eagles do have a bit of a leaky run defense that gives up 4.71 yards per rush attempt, so expect to see the Zips run the ball early and often, especially with Nelson potentially hobbled. That being said, the run defense has gotten a lot better recently outside of a bad performance against option powerhouse Army. Overall, the arrow seems to be pointing way up for the Eagles.
- 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS loss
- 23-10 ATS in their last 33 games overall
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 conference games
- 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like the Eagles a lot here, and if Nelson doesn’t play, this will turn into one of my strongest plays of the year. The EMU defense has blossomed into one of the best in the MAC, and even when Nelson is healthy he hasn’t been that great, completing less than 53% of his passes. The Akron defense is a sieve and EMU should have no problem putting up points here.
Prediction: EMU -13
Full-Game Total Pick
This total is simply too low for these teams, and I like the over a lot. Akron likes to chuck the ball down the field when they pass, which leads to a lot of clock stoppages. I expect Eastern Michigan to get up big early on against this week Zips defense, so Akron will be forced to abandon the run and play catchup.
Prediction: Over 43.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
Eastern Michigan has been coming on strong recently, and should start off hot here. Akron had a pretty disappointing loss to NIU last week, and could come out with a bit of a hangover. If you like EMU full game, definitely consider putting something on the first half line.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan
Half-Time Side Pick
Assuming Nelson plays, which it looks like he will, I like the first half over here. He’ll take some shots down the field, as will Wiegers, which should result in some early scores. I think both gameplans will be to move faster than oddsmakers are expected, and that should show itself right away.