Ball State (5-3) at Western Michigan (4-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 29th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,000) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Ball State 3-1, WMU 3-0. Away Record: Ball State 1-2, WMU 1-4. Neutral Record: Ball State 1-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: Ball State 3-1, WMU 2-2. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 20-17.
GAME NOTES: Western Michigan will try to remain perfect at home when the Broncos host the Ball State Cardinals this Saturday afternoon at Waldo Stadium in Mid-American Conference action.
The Cardinals are currently tied with Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan at 3-1 in league play. Ball State has won two straight games, as the Cardinals got by Ohio (23-20) and most recently Central Michigan (31-27).
As for the Broncos, they are going in the opposite direction. Western Michigan opened league action with two wins, but since then the team has fallen in back-to-back matchups to Northern Illinois (51-22) and Eastern Michigan (14-10). All four of the team's losses have come on the road, but at home the Broncos are a flawless 3-0, with each win coming by double figures.
The Broncos won last season's meeting, 45-16, and now own a 20-17 edge over the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals have won five of the last seven showdowns and the last three meetings in Kalamazoo.
It was a slow start to the season for Keith Wenning, but it would appear that Ball State's signal caller is in a groove at the present moment.
The quarterback only has 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, but three of those touchdowns came this past weekend, as Wenning led his squad back from a large deficit.
What was surprising in the win was the ineffectiveness of Jahwan Edwards. Edwards has been the main option out of the backfield for Ball State and even though he scored in the win, he finished with only 28 yards. Despite the poor effort, Edwards is still leading the team with 571 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
If Wenning can continue down the right path then the Cardinals could have a potentially dangerous and balanced attack.
They will certainly need it with the way the defense has played on the season. Ball State has struggled, surrendering over 30.0 ppg.
Teams have gashed this unit for 206.2 rushing yards per contest and have scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. The pass defense has been a problem as well, yielding close to 270 yards per game, along with 16 touchdowns.
Even though Ball State was victorious this past weekend the secondary continued to have problems, as Central Michigan finished with 436 yards and three scores through the air.
There were a couple of noteworthy performances, as Aaron Morris racked up 14 tackles and forced a fumble, while Travis Freeman added 12 stops and two sacks. Freeman is now leading the team with 77 tackles and has three sacks on the year.
In Western Michigan's four victories the team has scored 35 or more points, but in the team's losses the offense has run cold, posting less than 25 points in each setback.
The last time WMU was on the field the team finished with just 10 points in a loss to Eastern Michigan. Alex Carder completed 24-of-34 passes, but finished with just 181 yards and no touchdowns.
The ground game was solid, racking up 131 yards on 4.4 yards per tote. Tevin Drake led the way with only 48 yards and scored the team's lone touchdown. Drake has been the best back for WMU, but he has just 387 yards and two scores on the year.
For this unit to be truly successful Carder will have to find more consistency. Sure, the signal caller does have over 2,000 passing yards and 16 touchdowns against only six picks, but too many times this year the quarterback has put forth some lackluster performances.
Expect Carder to come out firing this weekend and his main target will be Jordan White, who is leading the team with 86 receptions, 992 yards and seven touchdowns.
Just like the offense, the defense has been inconsistent at times throughout the season and because of that opponents are averaging 24.4 ppg against this unit.
The biggest issues has come against the run, as teams are clobbering Western Michigan for 215.8 yards per game and have scored 14 rushing touchdowns. Western Michigan's inability to stop the run continued in the team's recent loss to Eastern Michigan, as the Eagles churned out 205 yards and one touchdown on 50 carries.
Western Michigan did force a turnover and recorded two sacks in the matchup, but these have also been areas of concern for the coaching staff, as the Broncos come into this game with only 12 takeaways and 13 sacks.
There were some bright spots in the loss though, as Johnnie Simon and Mitch Zajac continued their battle for the team lead in tackles. Simon finished with 11, while Zajac tallied 10, and after those efforts Zajac comes into this weekend with 66, one more than Simon.
The Cardinals have come from behind to win their last two games, but that is not a true recipe for success. The Broncos should be able to defend their home field, en route to a close decision over Ball State here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 34, Ball State 24
10/26 10:43:42 ET