Ypsilanti – Eastern Michigan and Lousiana-Lafayette are similar in several key ways. Both are coming off of 4-and-7 seasons in mid-major conferences. Both feature running quarterbacks and versatile offensive formations. And both lost their season opener last week, though EMU's 28-26 loss at Cincinnati was a far cry from the Cajuns' 60-3 pasting at Texas.
With Jerry Babb at the helm, UL's offense has several different weapons, but they rarely blow teams away. The Cajuns averaged 22 points per game in 2004, and did not move the ball more than 40 yards on any drive against Texas.
EMU's offense should be more balanced this week, as tailback Anthony Sherrell returns and the offensive line improves. Last week, quarterback Matt Bohnet accounted for 232 of the Eagles' 316 yards.
The challenge for the EMU defense will be to play an entire game at the same level as they finished against Cincinnati. Eastern allowed just 14 points in the final three quarters, and forced a fumble and a fourth-down stop on UC's last two possessions.
Intangibles will play a huge role in Saturday's game. Normally an aggressive, even chippy team, UL is still recovering from the shock of nearby Hurricane Katrina (Lafayette is more than 100 miles from New Orleans, but more than 40,000 evacuees fled to the city). Will they take out their pent-up emotion on the Eagles? Or can EMU subdue the Ragin Cajuns with precision? Look for UL to start quickly against the young EMU defense. But the Eagles will race past a tired Cajun team in the second half.
EMU 31, Lousiana-Lafayette 24
Click on the audio icon above to hear Brian's audio preview. And tune in to 89.1, WEMU for all the action Saturday evening at 5:45.