Mikey Haney
Eastern Michigan DL Mikey Haney is one of the top defensive threats in the MAC this year (PHOTO CREDIT: EMU Athletics)

Eastern Michigan Football Preview: East Michigan Domination?

With the new Mid-American Conference football season coming soon, the Eastern Michigan Eagles are looking to become the MAC champions. The conference's West Division is getting stronger, and the Eagles hope to keep pace with defending champion Toledo in 2023. The Eagles have a strong team and could indeed win the conference championship. 

Eastern Michigan 2023 Preview

The conference: Mid-American Conference (West Division)

2022 record: 9-4

Conference finish: 5-3

Head coach: Chris Creighton (46-61 in 10 seasons at school)

Five all-star candidates: Samson Evans, running back (1,166 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns); Austin Smith, quarterback (774 passing yards, 6 touchdowns); Kempton Shine, defensive back (1 forced fumble, 1 interception); Mikey Haney, defensive end (87 career tackles, 3 sacks)

The newcomer: Hamze El-Zayat, wide receiver (transfer from Fordham) (400 receiving yards, one touchdown last year) 

Samson Evans

Eastern Michigan's Samson Evans is one of the top running backs in the G5 ranks. (Photo credit: EMU Athletics)

The Breakdown

After a great 2022 season, ending with an Idaho Potato Bowl victory, Eastern Michigan expectations are high this season. To help fulfill these expectations will be new transfers who will improve the offense. The defense will also improve this year via the transfer portal. This season also has the potential for a berth in the conference title game if everything goes right for the Eagles. 

This roster has made improvements because of transfers, including receivers Javon Swinton (Indiana) and Hamze El-Zayat (Fordham), along with defensive linebackers Chase Kline (Michigan State) and Joseph Sparacio (Boston College). While the addition of these receivers will boost the offense, these new and potentially great linebackers will also strengthen the defensive secondary. All told, these transfers could help the Eagles win a conference title for 2023.

The Key Game and Why

A key game for Eastern Michigan will be against Toledo on Nov. 8. With this crucial divisional game late in the season, it could either go well for East Michigan or end in disaster. Facing a hated rival can help determine a season's success.  

The Toughest Game and Why

This season, Eastern Michigan will face one of the Big Ten teams, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers will be a difficult opponent for the Eagles because of their strong defense this season. If the offense can get through the Gophers' stout defense, the Eagles could win this one. 

The Chances of Reaching MAC Conference Title Game

To be in this year's conference title game, Eastern Michigan must beat Toledo with a soft schedule on paper. The Eagles could win the whole thing with the offense they have and their defense improving along the way. 

The Prediction

With decent luck and if the defense can hang with Toledo — the Eastern Michigan Eagles will win the MAC. The first two weeks will be challenging, with a Big Ten team in Week 2. The ceiling for the Eagles will be an 11-3 record, with a conference record of 6-2. Overall, the Eagles have a great chance to win the MAC title this year.