Five total games on the schedule tonight. We've highlighted what stands out about three of the matchups.
Eastern Michigan at Ohio (6 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Simply put, this game is a mismatch for head coach Ron English and the Eagles. Eastern Michigan enters the game at 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the MAC, while Ohio stands at 7-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Bobcats suffered their first loss of the season last week against Miami (Ohio), 23-20.
In the Eagles' win, quarterback Tyler Benz threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns. The Bobcats gave up 311 passing yards in last week's loss, so Eastern Michigan's best chance at pulling the upset seems to be through the air. Another place the Eagles can victimize Ohio is in the red zone. Frank Solich's bunch places 113th nationally in red zone defense, allowing opposing offenses to score 22 times in 24 trips. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan has produced points in 14 times in 16 trips, including 10 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech at Miami (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Miami enters tonight in first place of the ACC Coastal Division despite carrying an overall three-game losing streak. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has lost four of its past six games. Needless to say, both teams are desperate for a W.
Miami has struggled mightily on defense, ranking 11th or lower in the ACC in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. For Frank Beamer's team there has been a large defensive dichotomy between wins in losses. In the Hokies' four wins they have held opponents to 11 points per game, but in their four losses that number jumps to 37 points per game.
The Hokies are Thursday night veterans as tonight will be their 25th appearance on ESPN's Thursday Night Football. They have won 19 of their previous 24 appearances. Tonight is their first of two straight Thursday night games; Florida State heads to Blacksburg next week. Virginia Tech is also 25-2 in November as a member of the ACC.
Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
For what it's worth, this game was unanimously named the best matchup of the night among the FootballScoop staff. Both groups carry 3-1 Sun Belt records; WKU is 6-2 overall and MTSU is 5-3.
In Western Kentucky's lone Sun Belt loss, a 43-42 overtime setback to ULM, the Hilltoppers still managed to win the box score. Willie Taggart's team outgained the Warhawks by 64 yards, converted 11-of-17 third downs while holding ULM to 5-of-14, achieved seven more first downs, split the turnover battle and held nearly a 20-minute edge in time of possession.
Rick Stockstill's team has posted 40 points per game in its five wins, but less than 14 points per game in its three defeats. That's potentially a telling statistic as Middle Tennessee braces to face the Sun Belt's best defense. WKU leads the conference in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. The Hilltoppers have also posted more sacks and tackles for loss than anyone in the Sun Belt.