Bahamas Bowl Preview
Eastern Michigan Eagles vs Old Dominion Monarchs
The two previous matchups in the Bahamas Bowl produced plenty of points and entertaining games (Enter Contest). In 2014, WKU held off Central Michigan in a 49-48 shootout, while Western Michigan won 45-31 over MTSU last year.
This season’s matchup features an Old Dominion team making its first bowl trip in program history, and an Eastern Michigan program earning its first bowl appearance since 1987. The Monarchs have a dynamic offense, averaging 36 points a game behind quarterback David Washington and running back Ray Lawry. Coach Chris Creighton has brought marked improvement to Eastern Michigan in just three years. He took the Eagles from 1-11 last season to 7-5 in 2016. Quarterback Brogan Roback leads an EMU attack that ranks second in the MAC in passing offense.
ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5, 4-4 MAC)
Chris Creighton directed the turnaround for Eastern Michigan, which won a combined three games in his first two years with the program. Creighton took over for coach Ron English, who was fired after addressing his team with what the school’s administration deemed as “wholly inappropriate language” in 2013. Quarterback Brogan Roback fuels the offense, throwing for 2,394 yards with 16 touchdowns and he passed for 468 yards and three scores in the Eagles’ bowl-clinching win over Ball State earlier in the season.
The Eagles may not have leading running back Ian Eriksen (741 yards rushing, nine touchdowns). He missed the team’s regular season finale with an undisclosed injury and remains listed as questionable. Pat O’Connor paced the Eastern Michigan defense, which allowed 30.3 points per game, with eight sacks to set the school’s career mark with 19.5. The Eagles finished fourth in the MAC’s West Division. Unfortunately for them, they were outscored by 27 points in conference play but cemented their bowl bid with a late come-from-behind victory over Central Michigan and won seven games for the first time since 1989.
ABOUT OLD DOMINION (9-3, 7-1 Conference USA)
Old Dominion’s only loss in Conference USA play came to Western Kentucky. It proved to spell the end of its title hopes as both teams finished 7-1 in conference play. The Monarchs averaged 36 points per game (27th in the FBS). They are led by David Washington, who is one of four FBS quarterbacks to have thrown for 25 touchdown passes with four or fewer interceptions. Washington threw for 2,648 yards overall while completing 59.7 percent of his passes for the Monarchs. The team rides a five-game winning streak all of which came by double figures.
Coach Bobby Wilder guided the Monarchs since 2007. He’s rumored to be on the Temple short list after Matt Rhule took the Baylor job. Ray Lawry powered the Old Dominion running game amassing 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns. He capped his junior campaign with a career-high 194 yards and three scores in a 42-28 victory over Florida International. Wideouts Zach Pascal and Jonathan Duhart both caught eight touchdown passes. Linebacker TJ Ricks became the first defensive player in school history to earn first-team All-Conference USA honors. Ricks led the team with 93 tackles.