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Zach Pekale | NCAA.com | December 23, 2019

Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh: Quick Lane Bowl prediction, time, TV channel, preview

These are the must-watch bowl games (outside of CFP) in December

Eastern Michigan (6-6) and Pittsburgh (7-5) will meet in the Quick Lane Bowl at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 26. Find a prediction, preview and more for the game below.

MORE: Complete bowl schedule, TV listings

Eastern Michigan-Pittsburgh: Quick Lane Bowl prediction, preview

Eastern Michigan's trek from Rynearson Stadium to Ford Field is less than 40 miles, but that proximity doesn't fully encompass the team's journey. On Thursday, for the first time in a program history of 128 years, the Eagles will conclude consecutive seasons with a bowl game.

EMU started 3-1, including a road win at Illinois before stumbling in MAC play. Despite a 3-5 conference record, the Eagles hit the 6-win mark needed to qualify for a postseason appearance. It's the fourth Division I bowl for the program since 1987, with Eastern Michigan holding a 1-2 mark in those games. A win would be their first beyond the regular season in 32 years.

For Pittsburgh, the Panthers' quest to repeat as ACC Coastal Division champions was denied but their season will end in a familiar fashion in a familiar place. Pitt reached a bowl game for a fourth time in five seasons under head coach Pat Narduzzi and will play a postseason game in Detroit for the second time in six years.

Like the Eagles, the Panthers also picked up a marquee win in September with a last-second touchdown to hand UCF its first regular-season loss since 2016. But a highlight win in September might be the only common thread between these two. Eastern Michigan has primarily found success behind its offense while Pittsburgh is defensively driven.

So who has the edge?

MORE: Tracking each conference through bowl season

Eastern Michigan will rely on quarterback Mike Glass III to guide the attack. The senior led the MAC with 291.2 yards per game and finished top-20 among FBS signal-callers in completion percentage. Glass played three additional games in 2019 with a staggering improvement of 13 more touchdowns and over 1800 yards up from a season ago.

The Eagles' offense has been efficient in 2019, even potent at times. However, there are some defensive concerns for a unit that conceded more than 30 points in six games. That's a facet of the game that could benefit Pittsburgh.

Unlike EMU, Pitt doesn't have gaudy scoring numbers. The Panthers have only surpassed 30 points on three occasions. What they lack in scoring is made up for defensively. Six teams failed to score more than 20 points on Narduzzi's team this year and it's not because of turnovers.

Pitt recorded eight interceptions and recovered five of the 12 fumbles it forced. Those numbers don't pop off the page. Its third-down and red zone defenses, however, are a different story. Opponents converted 31.7 percent of third downs against the Panthers. In 42 red zone trips, Pitt only conceded 19 touchdowns.

Eastern Michigan–Pittsburgh: Quick Lane Bowl time, TV channel

Eastern Michigan and Pittsburgh play at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 26, from Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. The game is on ESPN.

Eastern Michigan-Pittsburgh: Stats, how they compare

EASTERN MICHIGAN STAT/LEADER PITTSBURGH
6-6 (3-5 MAC) Record (Conference) 7-5 (4-4 ACC)
29.1 Points per game 20.1
30.3 Points allowed 21.8
402. 7 Yards per game 374.1
280.8 Passing ypg 253.4
121.9 Rushing ypg 120.7
428.2 Yards allowed per game 302. 5
225.8 Passing yards allowed 195.6
202.4 Rushing yards allowed 106.9
Mike Glass III
2,858 yards (22 TD, 10 INT)
Passing yards Kenny Pickett
2,737 yards (10 TD, 9 INT) 
Shaq Vann
667 yards (4.9 per att.), 8 TDs
Rushing yards A.J. Davis
532 yards  (4.2 per att.), 4 TDs
Arthur Jackson III 
679 yards, 6 TD
Receiving yards Taysir Mack
711 yards, 2 TD
Brody Hoying
75 tackles, 4 tfl, 4 INT, 2 FF
Defensive leader Patrick Jones II
43 tackles, 12 tfl, 8.5 sacks, 4 FF

Eastern Michigan-Pitt: Prediction

For Eastern Michigan to win its first bowl game since 1987, it'll take some resiliency. Glass will be tested against a stingy Pittsburgh defense that has proven it can bend without breaking. On the other hand, if EMU can finish drives, the pressure would then be on the Panthers' offense to keep pace.

Pittsburgh 24, Eastern Michigan 20

MORE: National Championship history

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