Bahamas Bowl Pick
In its short history, the Bahamas Bowl has provided fans with two things: great weather and lots of points. When Old Dominion and Eastern Michigan meet in this year’s version, all signs point to a similar result. The Monarchs were early -4 point favorites.
There are some interesting things about this matchup, first is that Old Dominion has never played in a bowl Game, while Eastern Michigan was last in the postseason 28 years ago. Then there’s also last year’s meeting that finished 38-34 and it seems like the spread was taken directly from that result, despite plenty of new faces.
Eastern Michigan finished 4-4 in MAC play, but there are still some good things to take away from the Schedule. Home losses to Miami (OH) and Northern Illinois weren’t good, but the Eagles won at Ohio (East division winner), against Wyoming in non-Conference play, and came from behind to top Central Michigan in the finale. It hasn’t been pretty, but they’ve at least competed, which is something this team hasn’t been able to say for a while.
As for Old Dominion, they finished with just one C-USA loss and that came at Western Kentucky, the Conference winner. The Monarchs closed the season with five-straight wins and while none of those were all that special, they scored a ton of points and beat a respectable Southern Miss squad.
In like opponents, EMU won at Charlotte 37-19 early in the season, while ODU also won at Charlotte 52-17 in October. The main reason ODU is favored in this Game is because its offense is slightly better. It was evident in the Charlotte Game and it’s evident in the six more points scored per Game on the season.
As usual, the Monarchs are led by a great passing attack with David Washington having an underrated season with 28 TDs and only Four picks. But the main difference with this year’s team is that they can actually run the ball. Ray LAwry is at 6.3 yards per carry with 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season and should get a healthy dose in this Game after seeing at least 24 carries in three of the last Four Games. Jeremy Cox, more effective earlier in the year, leads the team with 13 touchdowns.
Eastern is mediocre against the run in terms of yards allowed, but one of the worst (113th in country) against the pass. If they can stop the run, it’s expected Washington will eat them up through the air.
ODU has a slightly better defense and that’s what’s expected to give Eastern some troubles. The Eagles aren’t as electric on the offensive end, and while they’ve had big Games such as 48 points at Ball State, they haven’t topped 26 points in three of their last Four Games. against ODU, that could be a problem.
Brogan Roback has been better in his second season at quarterback after not even being the starter early in the year. Roback has 16 TDs and 6 INTs with 7.34 yards per attempt. Those aren’t great numbers, but better than what he did a year ago. It’ll be important for the Eagles to get some kind of ground Game going to keep ODU’s offense off the field. But the question is if top running back Ian Eriksen will play, as he didn’t make the regular season finale. In his last two Games, Eriksen carried the ball 55 times for 280 yards and Four touchdowns to go with 119 yards receiving. If Eriksen can’t go, Blake Banham will step in and while Banham was good against Central Michigan, he still isn’t the regular starter.
For how up-and-down Eastern Michigan has been this season, it’ll have to be one of its more complete Games of the year to win this one. That’s not impossible, but it’s a hard thing to bet on.
The Eagles are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 Games overall and 6-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Monarchs are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five Games overall, but 2-8 ATS in their last 10 non-Conference Games.
Our Pick – Eastern Michigan +4