Eastern Michigan, Old Dominion meet in Bahamas Bowl
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) Eastern Michigan is playing in its first bowl since 1987. Old Dominion earned its first bowl bid in school history just two years after becoming postseason-eligible in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
So when it comes to motivation, expect the Eagles and Monarchs to have plenty of it when the two teams meet in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday.
''Twenty-nine years is a long time and our guys - badly - want to play well on Friday,'' Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton said. ''There is no question about it. We have had a special year and you just want to finish on a high note.''
Eastern Michigan (7-5), which plays in the Mid-American Conference, is enjoying one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. The Eagles have already guaranteed themselves a winning record for the first time since 1995 and the seven wins are the most for the program since 1989.
Creighton has guided the abrupt turnaround in his third season after a 2-10 record in 2014 and 1-11 mark last season. The Eagles' Brogan Roback has thrown for 2,394 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.
Old Dominion (9-3), which plays in Conference USA, restarted its football program in 2009 after a 69-year layoff. The Monarchs quickly because a powerhouse at the FCS level before starting the transition to the FBS in 2013.
Now they're in the Bahamas after winning eight of their last nine games and finishing with a 7-1 record in C-USA.
''It's clear that both teams want to be here,'' Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder said.
Here are a few things to watch in Friday's Bahamas Bowl:
FAMILIAR FOE: Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion have a recent shared history after playing a home-and-home series against each other in 2014 and 2015. The Monarchs won both games: 17-3 in 2014 in Norfolk and 38-34 in 2015 in Ypsilanti.
ROBACK'S RISE: Eastern Michigan's Roback became a force during the last half of the regular season, throwing for at least 300 yards in five of the final six games. The 6-foot-3, 206-pounder threw for a career-high 468 yards against Ball State Nov. 8 and completed 26 of 37 passes for 355 yards in a win over rival Central Michigan in the regular-season finale.
ACCURATE WASHINGTON: Old Dominion quarterback David Washington has thrown for 2,648 yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season. He is one of only four quarterbacks in the country to have thrown for at least 25 touchdowns and four or fewer interceptions.
WILDER LEADS: Wilder was hired to be Old Dominion's coach in 2007 and was charged with resurrecting a program that had been dormant for nearly seven decades. He had two years to prepare for playing game and the results have terrific. He has a 66-30 record over eight seasons, making the FCS playoffs in 2011 and 2012 before beginning to transition to the FBS. He's kept winning - the Monarchs are 20-16 in their first three seasons of playing an FBS schedule.
OFFENSIVE PARADISE: The Bahamas Bowl has earned a reputation as a high-scoring affair during its brief existence. The inaugural game was in 2014 when Western Kentucky beat Central Michigan 49-48. Western Michigan beat Middle Tennessee 45-31 last season.
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