13 Teams/13 Days Countdown: Eastern Michigan Eagles

Updated 8/19/2013

Conference: Mid-American Conference, West Division
Location: Ypsilanti, Mich.
Nickname: Eagles
Returning starters: 12 (7 offense, 5 defense)
2012 record: 2-10 (1-7 MAC)

Aug. 31 -- Howard, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sept. 7 -- at Penn State, Noon (BTN)
Sept. 14 -- at Rutgers, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sept. 21 -- Ball State, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5 -- at Buffalo, Noon (ESPN Regional) 
Oct. 12 -- at Army, Noon (CBS Sports Network)
Oct. 19 -- Ohio, 1 p.m.
Oct. 26 -- at Northern Illinois, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 -- at Toledo, 7 p.m. 
Nov. 9 -- Western Michigan, 1 p.m.
Nov. 23 -- Bowling Green, 1 p.m. 
Nov. 29 -- at Central Michigan, TBD (ESPNU/ESPN3) 
SOCIAL MEDIA (Accounts to FOLLOW on Twitter if you are an Eastern Michigan Fan)
University Accounts: @EMUAthletics; @EMUFB; @Ron_English; @LykeEMUAD; @AKuffnerEMU; @EMU_Swoop
Media Coverage/Beat Writer: @EMUEaglesNest
Fan Accounts: @EMU_EagleNation
SEASON BREAKDOWN & PREDICTION (courtesy of USA Today's Paul Myerberg)
In a nutshell: The quest for six wins will hit another hiccup in 2013, as EMU must navigate a shift in offensive philosophy, a reworked offensive line and a downtrodden defense while facing as tough a schedule you'll find in MAC play. The Eagles know that Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball State are part of the deal as members of the West Division; getting Ohio and Bowling Green from the East seems cruel, and doubly so for a program just desperate for any signals of clear progress.
Speaking of progress, much of EMU's season hinges on Parrish's new offense and a defense that suffered a steep slide in every statistical category a year ago. There are pieces to like on offense, such as Benz's projected improvement under center and Hill's dual-threat ability in the backfield, but EMU could be hamstrung from the start should the front not jell before October. I simply can't see much reason for optimism on defense. Yes, there's some experience up front and in the secondary, but does EMU have the tools to be successful against the MAC's elite offenses?
Let's put it this way: it would be a surprise if EMU won six games. Five wins would be a pleasant surprise; four would be nice; three would be expected; two wouldn't raise an eyebrow. To beat many teams on this schedule, EMU would need to play a perfect game. Is that possible?
READ MORE of USA Today's Preview (courtesy of Paul Myerberg) by CLICKING HERE