Kent State (2-4) at Ball State (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scheumann Stadium (22,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: KSU 1-2, BSU 3-0. Away Record: KSU 1-2, BSU 2-1. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 1-2, BSU 2-0. Series Record: Ball State leads, 19-7.
GAME NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals continue their quest towards their first Mid-American Conference Championship appearance since 2008 as they host the Kent State Golden Flashes at Scheumann Stadium.
Kent State fell to 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in the MAC standings last week as they were defeated, 38-24, by Northern Illinois in a rematch of the 2012 MAC Championship at Dix Stadium. The Golden Flashes were victimized by injuries and a very difficult non-conference slate that included road games at LSU and Penn State. Paul Haynes is in his first season as a head coach. He picked up his inaugural win from home on Sept. 28 as KSU coasted to a 32-14 win at Western Michigan.
The Cardinals won their third straight game over a member of a BCS conference and overall as they coasted to a 48-27 decision over the Cavaliers at Virginia last week. Ball State improved to 5-1 overall with the win and is tied for first place in the MAC West Division with NIU as they both are 2-0 versus league rivals thus far. Coach Pete Lembo's has remained perfect at home this season by downing Illinois State (51-28), Army (40-14) and Toledo (31-24) at Scheumann Stadium.
Haynes' offense is a work in progress with the promising and inexperienced redshirt freshman Colin Reardon starting under center. The rookie signal caller amassed 209 yards and two touchdowns versus NIU last week, but struggled with his accuracy and hit on only 16-of-35 pass attempts. Reardon has completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 1,033 yards with eight touchdowns to three interceptions so far.
KSU's offense has been drastically better over its last three games thanks to the return of its superstar Dri Archer, who missed most of the non-conference season with an ankle injury. The lighting quick Archer gave the Golden Flashes an early boost with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown last week against the Huskies. The senior also set the tone for the receiving corps against the defending champions with 80 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
Archer's presence on the field has helped liberate the team's other vital offensive weapon from constant defensive attention. Trayion Durham managed to rack up 226 yards on 40 carries over the past two games after being held under the 40-yard mark in his previous three. Archer and Durham showed how deadly of a duo they can be last season when they amassed a combined total of 3,487 rushing and receiving yards. Durham averaged only 3.1 yards per carry and 47.5 rushing yards per game before his running mate's return.
Junior wideout Chris Humphrey has been a having a stellar season with 327 yards and two touchdowns on 27 receptions. Tyshon Goode has also made 23 catches which he has turned into 231 yards.
Senior safety Luke Wollet is the most valuable player on the defensive side of the ball for the Golden Flashes. He has registered 51 total tackles and a pair interceptions. Senior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix is one of the top linemen in the MAC. He is second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (59.0), fifth in forced fumbles (10) and 14th in sacks (21.5). Kent State has dropped off defensively from a season ago due to the graduation of many of its key players. It has allowed 473.3 ypg through six outings to place 10th in the MAC in total defense.
The Golden Flashes have their hands full once again this week as Ball State comes in ranked No. 2 in the MAC in scoring (41.3 ppg) and also paces the league in passing at 337.5 ypg. Senior QB Keith Wenning completed 23-of-41 of his passes for 346 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way last week in Charlottesville. In the process, the senior QB became the school's all-time leading passer with 9,250 yards, surpassing the previous mark of 9,233 by Nate Davis.
Wenning has accounted for 1,996 yards and 11 TDs on the season and has been picked off only three times. His average of 332.7 passing yards per game is the seventh best among FBS players. His favorite target, Willie Snead, has been unstoppable with 715 yards and five touchdowns on 41 catches to put himself among the elite wideouts in the nation and atop the MAC statistically. Jordan Williams led the team in receiving with nine catches, 159 yards and a score in its win over the Cavaliers. Snead stayed busy as well with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
In addition to their great signal caller, the Cardinals also have one of the top tailbacks in the conference in Jahwan Edwards, who has powered his way to 374 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns despite only playing four games. Horactio Banks has also been a problem for the opposition with his average of 5.6 yards per carry, 363 yards and five rushing scores.
Ball State has locked things up defensively since being destroyed by Indiana's fast-paced attack. The Cardinals are allowing just 24.5 points per game to place third in the MAC and have the fifth-best total defense at 431.7 ypg. Lembo's team is also the most disciplined team in the league as it is penalized for a conference-low 30 ypg. Brian Jones is the leader of BSU's defensive group with 52 total tackles. Jones has also forced two fumbles and recovered three.
Although KSU is going to climb back towards the .500 mark as it progresses through its conference season, it is not going to stand a chance against its top-notch league rivals until Reardon settles into his role. There is going to be a lot of pressure on the Golden Flashes' offense to score points as their defense is in for another long day. KSU allowed NIU to gain 698 yards of total offense, including 454 yards on the ground. Edwards and Wenning could have a field day if Haynes' defense submits the same level of effort in Muncie.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 38, Kent State 31
10/09 10:36:50 ET