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Posted on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

Eastern Michigan football run over in 71-3 season-ending loss to Northern Illinois

By Bison Collins Messink


Northern Illinois tailback Chad Spann breaks through the Eastern Michigan defense to score one of his two touchdowns during a 71-3 win at Rynearson Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Angela J. Cesere |

In a game so one-sided, played in temperatures so cold, the Eastern Michigan football team was more focused on getting off the field than it was on any type of comeback.

“When the score got out of hand, we wanted the clock running and we wanted to get out of there,” said Eagles coach Ron English. “We legitimately couldn’t stop them, so we wanted to run that clock.”

Northern Illinois' 71-3 win at Rynearson Stadium on Friday afternoon was Eastern's most lopsided defeat since 1905.

The 71 points allowed were second most in school history, eclipsed only by the 73 the Eagles allowed to Ohio State earlier this season.

But unlike the Ohio State loss, when English was upset at Buckeye coach Jim Tressel for passing the football and running a trick play late in the game, Northern Illinois passed just once in the second half.

Eastern Michigan simply couldn’t tackle the Huskies.

In the second half, Northern Illinois had four touchdown runs of more than 60 yards, even though the Huskies were playing their second and third string.

After falling behind quickly 20-0 and trailing 37-3 by halftime, Eastern (2-10, 2-6 Mid-American Conference) never attempted to throw the ball downfield as a way to play catchup. Quarterback Alex Gillett was 4-of-9 passing for just 11 yards. The Eagles ran the ball 55 times for 149 yards.

Northern Illinois (10-2, 8-0) gained 646 yards, 544 of them on the ground.

After the loss, English was matter-of-fact in assessing his team’s performance.

“Let’s talk about reality,” English said. “(Northern Illinois) is going to hit you in the mouth. That is a legitimate football team, and it is 20 degrees out there.

“It did not look like we wanted to play today. After we got hit in the mouth a couple times, we didn’t want to play. And that falls on the head coach.”

English, however, remained upbeat about the progress of the program this season, and its potential for further progress.

“I feel good about the season, but today is a sour pill to swallow,” English said.

The Eagles have had problems defensively this season, particularly giving up long scoring plays off of rushes and short pass completions.

That was never more apparent than Friday, when Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch scored on runs of 81 and 61 yards and three other Huskies scored two touchdowns each, including runs of 74, 71, 61, 30 and 22 yards.

“On defense you gotta do it with players. And when we can’t tackle a guy one-on-one, I don’t know how much coaching that is. We had a free guy to the ball, schematically, on all those plays.”

English’s top priority for the offseason will be recruiting better players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

“You can’t play defense without good defensive players. And we don’t have even close to enough good defensive players in this program,” English said.

Ultimately, the 2010 season was an improvement over 2009, when the Eagles were 0-12. Both wins -- over Ball State and Buffalo -- came on the road against MAC opponents.

With a somewhat lighter non-conference schedule next year, and more winnable home conference games, there is reason to believe Eastern Michigan could show further progress in the win column.

But losses like the one on Friday show how far away those wins are.

“We’re putting a program in place,” English said. “It doesn’t always show, but we’ve made huge strides in terms of putting our program together.”



Mon, Nov 29, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

Although I agree that the football team is absolutely horrible, I don't think that dropping out of FBS is the solution. If we don't play there, we won't be in the MAC and therefore all the teams that are actually pretty good (ie track, swimming, cross country, baseball, softball, etc.) will suffer. EMU needs to think strategically, find out what the problem is and fix it and not make the 350+ other non-football student athletes pay for the mistakes the football program makes. It's a shame that a crappy football team overshadows all the great things the other sports do here at EMU.

Buster W.

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 12:55 p.m.

@Likearock...we're not even asking for the program to be "built up" --- they've gone from seasons preceding English and now he's gone 2-22 in two years. The two wins were against Buffalo and Ball State (not very good teams). I think everyone is just looking for some level of progress...not seeing it. Also, it appears he's lost the fight in his team.


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Interesting that people think an EMU program that has struggled to be mediocre of the past 20 years can be built up in 2 short years by Ron English. While we're very disappointed in the performance against NIU you've got to remember that NIU is the top team in the MAC and should be ranked in the top 25. In the mid-90's NIU was terrible. They hired Joe Novak as head coach in 1996 and he proceeded to go 3-30 in his first 3 years before finally making a mark in the win column. It takes years to build a winner and the road is not easy. Not sure how people can say EMU is not committed to FB. Take a look at all of the investment EMU has made in to the program in the past 2 years. And in regard to dropping to FCS - I completely disagree. You don't make progress by going backwards. Also, dropping to FCS also means leaving tha MAC for all sports. In regard to attendance there is only one solution - win! It's a fact that if EMU builds a consistent winner then there would be 15-20K butts in those seats every Saturday.

Buster W.

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

I'm so tired of hearing about coaches and players talking about the weather conditions their team had to play in...BOTH teams play in the same conditions! English, a defensive guy, gives up 71 points in the last game (home) of his second season. He must go! It's been rumored that 1/3 of his team will transfer after this season, too...the lack of intensity is very telling. EMU just needs to give up on football.... '92 EMU grad


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 1:30 a.m.

Win, EMU can't drop to D2. They can drop to the FCS, which is NOT D2, D2 is schools like GVSU, Wayne St, Ferris St. EMU is a quality athletic program with the exception of football. Under NCAA rules a school must be D1 in all sports if football or basketball are in D1. You may not have a core sport (FB and BB) be D1 and other's in D2. D1 football is split into FCS (IAA) and FBS (IA). They current are in the FBS and should go to the FCS. That is still all within D1, not D2 though.


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

EMU needs to do what the NCAA very well could do in the next couple years. They need to drop to the FCS level where they might be able to compete. The NCAA has been very nice with EMU and a couple other programs recently regarding the minimum attendance requirement. IIRC teams need to average 15000 per season to maintain FBS status. This season EMU averaged 15885 per game. Last season it was 5016 per game. In 2008 it was 18951. 2007 saw and average of 6810. If you include the EMU "home game" at Ford Field in 2007 it averages 7448. Over the last 4 seasons EMU has averaged only 11665 fans per game. That is way less than the NCAA minimum required 15000 per game. While EMU does meet the legal requirement the school may need to take a serious look to see if the direction of the program is the direction the school really wants. Under the NCAA's rules, a school must average 15000 once every 2 years. EMU averaged 15000 or more in both 2008 and 2010 so they do mee the requirement. The sad thing is EMU is using their football program for nothing more than a money grab to fund other programs. EMU's schedule the last 4 years includes money grabbing games at Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Virginia in 2010. Northwestern, Michigan, Arkansas in 2009 In both 2010 and 2009 they hosted Army, which allowed them to meet the NCAA minimum home game requirement. In 2008 they played at MSU, Army and Maryland (played Indiana St at home) In 2007 they played at Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Michigan, and played Northwestern at Ford Field. The simple fact is EMU has absolutely no committment to being a successful DIA football team. If this is the direction the program is going to take they would be better suited to drop out of the MAC and FBS and go to the FCS. At this point they can still schedule FBS teams without having to meet the requirement of attendance. It will also save the school money from a standpoint of scholarships since the limit is 65 rather than 85. Under the FCS rules they must schedule 50% of their 11 games (11 is the FCS limit not 12) against DI opponents. EMU could also schedule some in-state DII schools who might actually bring more fans to the games than what EMU currently draws. GVSU, a DII power from west Michigan has averaged 11058 for 6 home games this season and averaged: 10844 (2009), 12902 (2008) and 10983 (2007). GVSU has actually outdrawn EMU for regular season home games 2 times in 4 seasons and has aveaged only 218 less fans per game over the last 4 regular seasons. (GVSU attendance drops for NCAA Playoff games) EMU needs to drop down to the FCS level so they can continue the money grab while maybe actually saving some money and playing some teams they can be competitive with at the FCS level with a possible DII team coming in once in awhile as well.


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Many UM fans say they would like to see English back as the Wolverines DC. After today's performance, would he really be an upgrade?


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

Initially I felt bad for English. Now I just feel bad for the AD. He has to seriously consider dropping this entire coaching staff and dropping to D2. EMU has been a very bad football program for decades. Yo read what I just read makes me sick. For English to admit his team quit and didn't want to play. It was cold? FIRED! see you later!


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:07 p.m.

Maybe it's time for EMU to throw in the towel and withdraw from football competition. The resources could be re-deployed to better uses. EMU has stunk up the bottom floor of the MAC for decades. I don't know what it is but no matter who they recruit or who the coach is they just plain are snake-bit cursed losers. End it, eh?


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

"It did not look like we wanted to play today. After we got hit in the mouth a couple times, we didnt want to play. And that falls on the head coach. How can a team not be ready to play on Senior Day - last home game of season? How can a team play pretty good on the road all season and not show up for home games? The team quit on the coach in the second quarter and that should concern everyone... in his two-year tenure, this was by far the worst loss for Coach English! Instead of having some momentum going for next season we are once again forced to ask the question - is English a head coach??????? So far, the answer is no!


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

Ron English must be replaced.

gene tracy

Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 8:45 p.m.

EMU has not had a winning season since 1995. The program is a complete and total joke and embarrassment. Beaten by 68 points at home? On Senior day? Give me a break. If there was ever a case for abolishing the program, it was today's game. The student body, alumni, and community of Ypsilanti have never supprted teh progtram. Why continue the charade? By the way, I am an alumni, class of '77.


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

If that is the way you feel coach then quit,resign or whatever!


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

Tackle? On 5 of those plays the runner wasn't even touched! The score shouldn't have even been that close! And if YOUR players don't want to play get them off the field and put in people that do. I don't care how one sided you play to win or you don't play at all! Nothing but a PPA if you ask me! A Marine Vietnam vet.