After a disappointing loss to the University of Incarnate Word, the Texas State Bobcats (1-2) will go back on the road to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-1) this weekend.
In what will be the first contest between the two programs, both schools are coming into this full of emotion and looking to turn the tide of their program’s history, this early in the year.
For the Bobcats, Texas State’s season has been a rocky road to begin. From losing a tight game to the Baylor Bears on opening Saturday, to losing to eleven-point underdogs, UIW, this past weekend, the team is looking to bring home a much-needed win.
In the case of Eastern Michigan, they’ve played well against their two non-ranked opponents, winning by an average margin of 17 points.
The battle under center isn’t as clear as you’d think. In Texas State’s case, they’re manned by second-year starter, Brady McBride.
In the case of Eastern Michigan, they have two QB’s that have seen split volume as pass throwers. Quarterbacks Ben Bryant and Preston Hutchinson have both thrown at least 27 passes this year, with Bryant being the more efficient thrower.
Assuming that Ben Bryant will be your starter, there’s no wonder why Eastern Michigan has played so well to begin the year. Bryant is completing nearly 69% of his throws through three games, with a big-time throw percentage of 7.3% according to Pro Football Focus.
— Eastern Michigan Football (@EMUFB) September 17, 2021
In addition, he’s had an adjusted completion percentage of 75% through these three games, with an average depth of target at nearly 10 yards. In shorter terms, Bryant has been efficient while taking what the defense has given him through three games.
The QB duel favors Bryant on paper, but we’ve seen a steady improvement from the Texas State signal-caller throughout these three games. Since McBride‘s week one issues, he’s roared back with an average passing grade of 69.2 via PFF.
That is nearly a 30 point increase in terms of play since week one. He’s completing around 60% of his throws while keeping the turnover box score clean as he hasn’t thrown an interception since week one. His adjusted completion percentage has jumped significantly from 58% to around the low 70s in percent since week one. He’s also seen a jump in his passer rating by nearly 40 points since the brutal Baylor performance.
While neither team is perfect, both are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Eastern Michigan has put up 35 or more points in two of their three games this year, while Texas State has scored under thirty points in two out of their three games this year.
Eastern Michigan is also one win deeper in the win column than Texas State, as they performed admirably against inferior competition. The same cannot being said for Texas State, as they have had an issue with playing down to their competition.
The oddsmakers also take note of this, as the Eagles are 6.5 point favorites in Saturday’s early kickoff. Also, the Bobcats are looked at as +190 underdogs, this being in addition to this being the second time they’ve been an underdog by a margin higher than six points.
The underdog aspect for a Texas State doesn’t stop there, as NumberFire gives Eastern Michigan a near 90% chance of victory on Saturday afternoon.
In what many believe will be at least a one possession victory for Eastern Michigan, Texas State must rely on their running game to pull off the upset. In two out of the three games we’ve watched this year, defenses have tested the Bobcats by playing two deep shells, forcing them to run the football.
So far, while Texas State has shown the ability to run the football adequately throughout the course of a game, it’s when they begin to go down by as little as one possession where they abandon the run game solely. Texas State must stick to what they know, that’s running the football, pulling their guards and center on every rushing attack to help win the time of possession battle.
While last week the Cats had 25 players missing according to Head Coach Jake Spavital, this week they will be slightly healthier. Likely to have DeJordan Mask back in action in addition to others on that defensive side of the football, Texas State should put up a fight as the underdog. A feeling that they are used to.
Running the football and taking advantage of familiar faces back in their lineup will be key. To defeat a team like EMU that has an offense that can easily put up 35 points, they will need to limit possessions due to their ground game while using their starting caliber players to their strengths.
Likely to see another empty box, there’s no reason why this Maroon and Gold offense should carry the football for five to six yards per clip. Scheme-wise it works, it will all come down to execution.
𝗕𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗢𝗻 𝗥𝗼𝗮𝗱 🚌
— Texas State Football (@TXSTATEFOOTBALL) September 21, 2021
The kickoff on Saturday, September 25 will take place at 1 p.m. CST, live from Rynearson Stadium. The game will be available on ESPN+, with the recap of the game to follow after the final seconds tick off the clock.