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Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan: Quick Lane Bowl preview and picks against the spread

Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Eastern Michigan (6-6)

Location: Detroit | When: Dec. 26 (8 p.m.) | TV: ESPN | Line: Pitt -10.5

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Pittsburgh: Pitt shook off a 1-2 start by winning six of its next seven games, putting itself in position to potentially win the ACC Coastal at 7-3 and 4-2 in conference play. But the Panthers lost their final two games, falling 28-0 in a road game at Virginia Tech before losing the season finale to Boston College 26-19. Those losses dropped Pitt to 7-5 and to one of the lower available bowl games. 

Eastern Michigan: Eastern Michigan started the year 3-1, including a road upset over Illinois, before struggling to open conference play. The Eagles were 1-4 in the MAC before winning two of three down the stretch to clinch bowl eligibility. This game is just the fourth bowl game in Eastern Michigan history, three of which have come under Chris Creighton. 

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

There are a few interesting variables within this game. First of all, when you have a team from a Group of Five conference like the MAC playing a team from the ACC or another power conference, it presents much more motivation on the side of the G5 team — Eastern Michigan, in this case. From a matchup perspective, Eastern Michigan has the top passing offense in the MAC while Pitt ranks second in the ACC and No. 20 overall in the country. 

Pitt cornerback Dane Jackson has emerged as an NFL prospect as a senior. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Pittsburgh DL Jaylen Twyman: After working in a reserve role, Jaylen Twyman emerged as a force at defensive tackle for the Panthers in 2019. Over the course of the season, Twyman compiled 38 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Twyman is second in the ACC in sacks and earned first-team All-ACC honors for his efforts. 

Eastern Michigan QB Mike Glass III: Glass has been one of the best quarterbacks in the MAC as a senior. The second-team all-conference selection enters the Quick Lane Bowl with 2,844 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 67.7 percent of his passes. Glass also has rushed for 345 yards and seven scores for the Eagles. 

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT

Pittsburgh CB Dane Jackson: There are some athletic concerns about Jackson, who has been beaten deep steadily throughout the redshirt senior’s career. But the 6-foot, 190-pound cover man is an excellent tackler, consistently gets his hands on passes and does a good job rerouting receivers. Jackson will have an excellent chance to show his chops in this game against the Eagles’ nice quartet of receivers (Arthur Jackson, Dylan Drummond, Quian Williams and Line Latu), any of whom can be the go-to target in a given game. Jackson, who will play in the Senior Bowl, would fit in with an NFL team that runs a lot of zone, such as the Colts, Chargers or Steelers.

- Eric Edholm

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Pittsburgh: Pitt is in its fifth season under Pat Narduzzi, but is 0-3 in bowl games during his tenure. The Panthers lost the Military Bowl to Navy in 2015, the Pinstripe Bowl to Northwestern in 2016 and the Sun Bowl to Stanford in 2018. Pitt’s last bowl win game in 2013. A win in the Quick Lane Bowl would also get Pitt to 8-5, tying the best record Pitt has had under Narduzzi (also in 2015 and 2016).

Eastern Michigan: When Eastern Michigan made it to the Bahamas Bowl in 2016, it was the program’s second-ever bowl appearance with the only other coming back in 1987 (a win over San Jose State in the California Bowl). Now the Eagles have reached a bowl game in three of the last four seasons and, with a win, can clinch back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1988 and 1989.

With a win, Eastern Michigan can clinch back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1988-89. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PICKS

Nick Bromberg: Eastern Michigan +10.5

Sam Cooper: Pitt -10.5

Picks from the Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Pat Forde: Pitt -10.5

Pete Thamel: Pitt -10.5

Dan Wetzel: Pitt -10.5

Sean Sullivan: Eastern Michigan +10.5

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