Western Michigan (3-3) at Ball State (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scheumann Stadium (22,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: WMU 3-1, BSU 2-1. Away Record: WMU 0-2, BSU 1-2. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 1-1, BSU 1-2. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 21-17.
GAME NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals try to avoid falling below the .500 mark for the first time this season as they host the Western Michigan Broncos at Scheumann Stadium for Mid-American Conference action.
The Broncos are not a house guest that will be easily tamed. WMU routed Massachusetts, 52-14, last week despite being without its star quarterback. The defensive unit had a strong showing and limited the Minutemen to only 218 yards of total offense to help the Broncos win their second game in their last three outings.
Ball State suffered its second setback in a row last week as it dropped a 35-23 decision to Northern Illinois at Scheumann Stadium. The setback sent the Cardinals to a 1-2 MAC record and a 3-3 overall mark.
Although it has been sporadic, the WMU offense has been effective overall this season, scoring 30.2 ppg on 425 ypg.
Starting quarterback Alex Carder threw for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns in the first four games, but a hand injury has kept him sidelined for the past two weeks. In his absence, Tyler Van Tubbergen is showing WMU it may have a bright future. Van Tubbergen completed 23-of-28 attempts for 283 yards and five touchdowns in last week's triumph over UMass. This came one week after he threw three interceptions against Toledo.
Jaime Wilson has been the MAC's busiest receiver with a league-high 51 catches, including four last week. He is also among the conference leaders in yards (621) and touchdowns (five). Opposite Wilson is Josh Schaffer, who has caught 23 balls for 276 yards and a score.
Dareyon Chance (88 carries, 442 yards, two TDs) has a pair of 100-yard rushing performances in the last three games. Brian Fields offers a change of pace in the backfield, picking up 218 rushing yards and score on 34 carries.
The defense (24.7 ppg) played tough against UMass, but it was coming off its worst performance of the year, as Toledo amassed 521 yards and 37 points on the previous Saturday.
Johnnie Simon, Justin Currie, and Desmond Bozeman each have 40 tackles or more. The unit can create plenty of pressure on the quarterback, with Bozeman (four sacks), Deauntay Legrier (3.5 sacks) and Paul Hazel (three sacks) all charging off the line. Lewis Toler is a playmaker in the secondary with three interceptions and a pair of pass breakups.
The Cardinal offense is powered by its smash-mouth rushing attack which averages 199.5 yards per game. Jahwan Edwards ranks sixth in the MAC with an average of 89.2 yards per game. The sophomore tailback's best performance came in Ball State's league opening game when he rushed for 200 yards and three scores on Eastern Michigan.
Horactio Banks complements Edwards very well as an alternative option out of the backfield. Banks is the 13th leading rusher in the MAC with 333 yards and three touchdowns through six games.
The Cardinals have shown the ability to run, but they are evolving into one of the most threatening passing teams in the league as well. Keith Wenning has passed for 879 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions over his last two outings. On the season, Wenning has completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,704 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Wenning has a pair of reliable targets in Willie Snead and Jamill Smith. Snead is one fire as of late, making 31 receptions for 438 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. Smith had season-highs of 14 catches and 146 yards in last week's loss to Northern Illinois.
Although BSU's offense has been thriving, its defense has been unimpressive to this point. The Cardinals are allowing 489.7 yards and 37.3 points per contest. Travis Freeman (68 tackles) and Tony Martin (51 tackles) have both stood out as key players on the defensive side of the ball for BSU.
With Wenning and company playing well, the Cardinals' defensive unit needs to step up against the Carder-less Broncos. Van Tubbergen has a chance to prove his outburst last week was not a fluke. BSU holds an edge as it will be hungry for a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 34, Western Michigan 28
10/10 10:52:27 ET