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BSU & Arkansas State by the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Sunday, January 5th, the Cardinals will pack up the greatest show on field turf and mosey on down to Mobile where they will play in their 7th bowl in program history and 2nd consecutive bowl in the Lembo era at Ball State. The GoDaddy.com bowl features Arkansas State from the Sun Belt as Ball State’s first potential bowl victim, and the Red Wolves will be minus one head coach when the game kicks off.

It was reported today by USAToday that ASU head coach Bryan Harsin was hired to fill the void left by Chris Peterson leaving Boise State for Washington. For Arkansas State, their next coach will be their 5th coach in as many years and that’s pretty much the definition of tumult. Of course, the flip side of that coin is the normal program-shaking situation of a head coach leaving before a season is complete is old hat for these Red Wolves. As a BSU loyalist, I will choose instead to assume that those on the staff that’s left are having a hard time even finding things in the office like whistles or three button short shorts. Coaches still wear those, right?

For the Cards, this bowl game is tremendously important as it could be the first bowl victory in the history of the program, and I would argue, perhaps the most winnable of the last few in the modern era. At 7-5 overall and 5-2 in the Sunbelt for ASU, compared to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the MAC for BSU, the records would indicate that BSU should have a slight advantage. Let’s see what the numbers say…

BSU vs. Arkansas State:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU ASU
Scoring Offense 13th (40.1)
62nd (29.7)
Rushing Offense 79th (153.1) 29th (207.0)
Passing Offense 9th (333.3) 87th (207.2)
Total Offense 19th (486.3) 65th (414.2)
Scoring Defense 48th (24.8) 65th (26.7)
Rushing Defense 94th (194.8) 83rd (182.8)
Passing Defense 58th (226.0) 74th (234.4)
Total Defense 87th (420.8) 79th (417.3)
Sacks 59th (25.0) 60th (24.0)
Sacks Allowed 16th (14.0) 80th (27.0)
Turnover Margin 10th (+12) 29th (+6)
3rd Down Conv. % 41st (44.1%) 29th (45.6%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 67th (39.9%) 47th (37.0%)
Red Zone Conv. % 11th (90.3%) 31st (87.5%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 25th (77.1%) 23rd (76.9%)
Punting 68th (40.7) 73rd (40.4)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 6th (31.6) 100th (58.1)

Of the 17 stats measured for our By the Numbers pieces, the Cardinals hold an 11-6 advantage, which is considerably closer than I expected. Don’t be fooled, Cards fans. This one will be far from easy. Each day leading up to this particular contest we have something exciting planned, so be sure to check back for your BSU GoDaddy Bowl ridiculousness.

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BSU & Miami By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Friday while masses of people slam themselves into each other at retail establishments to try and get a television that’s 5 percent lower on sale than usual, the Cardinals will be tucked safely in bed getting ready for their 1pm showdown against the 0-11 Miami Redhawks. It’s the definition of a trap game, as the Cards are attempting to position themselves for the best possible bowl and the Redhawks are simply trying to avoid the goose egg in the win column. They’ve already fired their coach, their last home game drew under 9,000 fans, and their starting quarterback suffered a knee injury on October 31 ending his season. Suffice to say, times in Oxford aren’t so fun right now.

The Cards come in at 9-2, looking to get to double digits and solidify their rightful place as the second best team in the MAC. That will matter come bowl season and invite time, especially if NIU crashes the BCS again. But bowls and placement within them are not the concern right now. Right now, the thrashing of the hot garbage pile from Oxford is the top priority. Let’s see what the numbers say…

 

BSU vs. Miami:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Miami
Scoring Offense 17th (38.7)
125th (9.4)
Rushing Offense 81st (154.3) 116th (98.3)
Passing Offense 13th (323.1) 120th (122.5)
Total Offense 21st (477.4) 125th (220.8)
Scoring Defense 58th (25.8) 102nd (33.9)
Rushing Defense 99th (199.1) 113th (230.9)
Passing Defense 76th (233.5) 96th (244.2)
Total Defense 97th (433.5) 111th (475.1)
Sacks 73rd (20.0) 112th (13.0)
Sacks Allowed 26th (14.0) 124th (45.0)
Turnover Margin 11th (+10) 63rd (+/- 0)
3rd Down Conv. % 40th (44.4%) 125th (23.0%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 73rd (40.2%) 120th (48.7%)
Red Zone Conv. % 18th (89.1%) 125th (61.1%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 27th (76.5%) 29th (77.1%)
Punting 63rd (41.0) 7th (45.5)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 7th (32.6) 15th (36.4)

So, that’s a beat down. Dead last (125th) in several categories, and only trumping the Cardinals in average yards per punt. And Lord knows Miami has had enough practice with their anemic offense this season. Games aren’t played on paper, but this is the most lopsided statistical advantage BSU has enjoyed all season long. It’s the season finale, Senior Day, and a blackout for the fans who show up. On paper, this shouldn’t be close and let’s all hope that transitions to on the field.

BSU & NIU By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Wednesday, the Cards travel to Dekalb for what amounts to a one-game playoff for the MAC West. A victory means the Cards are heading to Detroit for the MAC Championship and a loss means the Cards will need help from Toledo the following week to even make it to a tiebreak situation. Suffice to say, it’s big. Most fans of both programs had this game circled since the summer when the schedules were released as their ” Must Win” of the 2013 season. Now, it’s here.

Each team has had remarkable success this season, with NIU being undefeated at 9-0 and ranked 15th in the latest BCS standings. The Huskies are realistic BCS busters (as they were last season) but of course that all goes away with a loss on Wednesday. The similarities between the programs are numerous, but let’s see how the teams stack up on paper in this 2013 edition of the Battle for the Bronze Stalk!

BSU vs. NIU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU NIU
Scoring Offense 14th (39.9)
7th (44.2)
Rushing Offense 81st (152.7) 4th (312.7)
Passing Offense 16th (323.0) 66th (232.8)
Total Offense 24th (475.7) 5th (545.4)
Scoring Defense 48th (23.6) 53rd (25.0)
Rushing Defense 98th (197.5) 42nd (147.1)
Passing Defense 46th (222.4) 109th (271.6)
Total Defense 85th (419.9) 84th (418.7)
Sacks 54th (19.0) 16th (26.0)
Sacks Allowed 33rd (13.0) 2nd (5.0)
Turnover Margin 8th (+10) 10th (+9)
3rd Down Conv. % 44th (43.8%) 54th (41.8%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 65th (39.5%) 32nd (35.3%)
Red Zone Conv. % 27th (88.2%) 38th (86.8%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 17th (72.4%) 115th (91.7%)
Punting 62nd (41.3) 69th (41.0)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 6th (31.4) 99th (61.0)

I thought for sure BSU would trail this week’s by the numbers, but they in fact do not, with a 9-8 lead in the stat categories above. That’s as close as you can get though. The big things to note is this week is a battle of strength versus weakness in that NIU’s fantastic rushing offense is going against a not so great rush defense for the Cardinals. Same could be said for BSU’s passing attack versus NIU’s passing defense. NIU does have a marked advantage in sacks, so the offensive line for BSU and protecting Keith Wenning will be the difference maker. Both teams generate a tremendous amount of turnovers, and the game could very well hinge on one of those. The two most interesting stats for me are BSU advantages in the areas of opponent red zone scoring percentages and penalties. It is intangibles like those that make the difference for two evenly matched teams. If NIU is held to field goals rather than touchdowns in the red zone and who commits their usual 60 yards of penalties, it becomes much more likely for a BSU upset. Vegas sees NIU as a 6 point favorite, with a 69 point over/under, and it’s hard for me to take issue with either of those numbers.

Ball State & CMU By the Numbers

By the Numbers200There’s just something about a midweek game that let’s you know it’s getting down to serious business time in the MAC. There are three (count ‘em: THREE!) games left for this 2013 regular season and that fact alone is literally mind-boggling. I’m not sure where the time has gone, but it’s nut cuttin’ time in the MAC. All eyes will be on Dekalb next week as the undefeated media darling and OUR MOST HATED RIVAL NIU hosts the Fighting Football Cardinals,  but the most important game is always the most current one. And that’s the CMU Chippewas.

The Chips will come into Muncie tonight for a nationally televised ESPN2 spectacle that will hopefully have a huge student turnout in an effort to help Dance Marathon. So I figure the students will show up in mass effect, but much like the Kent State game and operation 20k, the onus for “good attendance” sort of falls on the season ticket holders, general admission folks, alums, and Delaware County-ites. I’ve railed against the attendance problem for years now, and frankly, I’m running out of breath to do it. This is a football team that’s 8-1, in the hunt for a MAC West championship, and is getting votes in both Top 25 polls. I know it’s Tuesday. I know you probably have work tomorrow. I’m sure there’s a million reasons why you can’t. Kids, commitments, blah blah blah. How about you bring your kids to the game? That seems like a winning idea for sure. Get them hooked on the Cards, have them fall in love with football, and they can grow up and become a superstar. Unless they’re a girl. But you can always let her look at the Code Red Dancers. Lord knows that’s all Jason does.

The Chips come to Muncie at 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the MAC with their wins coming against Ohio, Miami (Ohio), and FCS New Hampshire. Their three wins were at a combined margin of 18 points, so I’m not quite worried about CMU blowing the lights off the scoreboard this evening. They’re also coming off a significant layoff. Where as BSU last took the field 10 days ago, it’s been 17 for the Chips with a bye week before the move to midweek action. Whether that means rust or rest we’ll find out tonight on ESPN2. To the numbers…

BSU vs. CMU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU CMU
Scoring Offense 17th (39.4) 113th (18.6)
Rushing Offense 93rd (141.9) 103rd (125.0)
Passing Offense 16th (325.7) 80th (215.8)
Total Offense 29th (467.6) 108th (340.8)
Scoring Defense 42nd (23.6) 102nd (33.4)
Rushing Defense 104th (206.9) 107th (210.0)
Passing Defense 34th (215.6) 52nd (225.6)
Total Defense 85th (422.4) 93rd (435.6)
Sacks 60th (16.0) 70th (15.0)
Sacks Allowed 27th (11.0) 108th (24.0)
Turnover Margin 16th (+7) 89th (-3)
3rd Down Conv. % 27th (46.6%) 76th (38.3%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 67th (39.7%) 121st (50.0%)
Red Zone Conv. % 38th (86.7%) 89th (78.6%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 19th (73.1%) 87th (85.7%)
Punting 64th (41.3) 37th (42.5)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 5th (31.0) 13th (36.6)

Here’s the thing about statistics: In theory, you could craft evidence in any way to support whatever argument you want to make. There’s an exception to that theory, though, and it’s outlined above. We’ve been doing By the Numbers for several years now and I cannot remember a clean sweep statistically for the Cardinals. Truthfully, a 16-1 margin doesn’t ring a bell either, but I could just be getting old and forgetful. What that means is that on paper, the Cardinals are significantly better and better performing than their counterparts on the field tonight. Unless Dan LeFevour sneaks into a CMU jersey, the Cardinals may very well cover the anticipated spread which Vegas opened at 17.5, and has since been bet up to 21 at most books. To have that much of an increase on a midweek MAC game means a lot of money is coming in on the Cards. Whether that’s Vegas sharps’ money or degenerate scumbags who just have to bet on something I guess we shall see this evening. 8pm. ESPN2. Get your thrashin’ boots ready.

Ball State & Akron By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday, Ball State attempts to go 8-1 on the 2013 season and 5-0 in the MAC as they travel to perhaps one of the best facilities in the MidAmerican Conference in Akron and Infocision Stadium. But sort of like the empty ghost towns in China just waiting for the housing boom to spread to them, don’t be fooled by the fancy stadium or meeting facilities. All that glitters isn’t gold in Akron, as the Zips and Terry Bowden have limped along to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the MAC. In the Zips’ favor is only a 4-point loss at Michigan and a touchdown defeat at Northern Illinois. Both teams ranked, both on the road, both should have been epic blowouts. Then there’s the 40-point loss to Ohio. At home.

Akron is one of those teams that is certainly capable of getting blown out at home but they are also capable of beating damn near anyone. Unfortunately for BSU, Akron is the classic MAC team, who will spring a surprise on someone this season. Let’s hope it isn’t Saturday. The numbers…

BSU vs. Akron:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Akron
Scoring Offense 23rd (39.1) 108th(19.6)
Rushing Offense 93rd (140.0) 113th (106.8)
Passing Offense 13th (331.8 68th (228.0)
Total Offense 29th (471.8) 109th (334.8)
Scoring Defense 47th (23.5) 97th (31.5)
Rushing Defense 105th (204.5) 61st (156.0)
Passing Defense 43rd (216.1) 100th (258.9)
Total Defense 84th (420.6) 79th (414.9)
Sacks 65th (13.0) 8th (22.0)
Sacks Allowed 28th (9.0) 95th (17.0)
Turnover Margin 21st (+5) 92nd (-3)
3rd Down Conv. % 29th (48.1%) 50th (43.3%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 70th (40.0%) 100th (44.1%)
Red Zone Conv. % 56th (84.6%) 104th (73.7%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 24th (73.9%) 52nd (80.6%)
Punting 56th (41.6) 23rd (43.7)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 11th (33.8) 88th (57.0)

13-4 in statistics isn’t the biggest advantage BSU has enjoyed this season, but it is a sizable one. Most concerning is the high sack total combined with a stout (relatively speaking) rush defense. BSU is versatile to employ either the rush or the pass to get the W, but one of them has to work. If both struggle, it’s a long day at the office. Akron is slanted heavily towards the pass as opposed to the rush, and it has been the case in recent memory that passing teams sometimes enjoy a bit of success against the Cards. All in all, nothing supremely alarming, but a few areas of concern. The Vegas line opened at 11.5 and has been bet down to 10. That’s a bit surprising, as normally the line movement favors BSU and not the other way. The over/under has been bet down to 56.5 from an opening 58.5, so the sharps think it will be approximately 33-23 Cards. Your thoughts?

Ball State & WMU By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday, the Cards travel to Kalamazoo where they will take on Western Michigan for the opportunity to go to 7-1 while handing WMU their 8th loss of the season. Western is trying to win their first game of the 2013 campaign, and it’s safe to say that the boat PJ Fleck has been rowing this season had drastically different results pictured in his head. For BSU, there was an apparent big win hangover against Kent State stemming from their victory at Virginia, so this week the Cards have had to endure grumbles, commentary, and a fanbase that is lusting for blood in the form of a MAC blowout. I’m no scientist, but it seems to me like a tasty little morsel of winless failure known as Western Michigan seems like just the ticket. The numbers suggest the same…

 

BSU vs. Western Michigan:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU WMU
Scoring Offense 21st (39.3) 121st (12.9)
Rushing Offense 95th (137.3) 112th (105.0)
Passing Offense 12th (332.9) 98th (199.3)
Total Offense 32nd (470.1) 118th (304.3)
Scoring Defense 49th (24.4) 112th (37.4)
Rushing Defense 108th (210.3) 124th (274.1)
Passing Defense 48th (217.9) 6th (163.4)
Total Defense 90th (428.1) 97th (437.6)
Sacks 64th (11.0) 120th (5.0)
Sacks Allowed 31st (8.0) 82nd (13.0)
Turnover Margin 21st (+5) 121st (-11)
3rd Down Conv. % 32nd (47.2%) 122nd (25.2%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 89th (42.3%) 81st (41.2%)
Red Zone Conv. % 46th (86.1%) 97th (76.5%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 36th (76.2%) 92nd (87.1%)
Punting 61st (41.4) 98th (39.9)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 10th (32.9) 78th (54.7)

Vegas had BSU as a 21-point favorite at the open and most lines have stayed right there or moved it down only a point or two. A three touchdown spread in the MAC makes me a little nervous, but much like last week, this opponent just isn’t very good. The stat above that gave me pause was their top 10 pass defense, but then I saw their total defense in the high 90’s and rushing defense in the bottom 10 of the entire FBS and it dawned on me their numbers are low against the pass because teams haven’t had to pass on them to be successful. That’s a good thing for Quake Edwards and I hope Rich Skrosky gives him the ball more than the 11 carries Edwards saw last weekend. It would seem to me that a heavy does of Quake early and often is just what the doctor ordered. Row that boat indeed.

Ball State & Kent State By the Numbers

By the Numbers200In case you haven’t heard, Saturday is Homecoming at the Scheu and BSU will attempt to win their third MAC game of 2013. This is the first of three games the Cards will play before they do battle with OUR MOST HATED RIVAL Northern Illinois in what many expect to be the zOMG GAME OF THE CENTURY!!!111 in Dekalb. But of course, for that to truly be the game of the century, or even the year, both teams have to take care of business with the also-ran bottom feeders that are on the schedule between now and then.

For the Cards, that means Ws over the likes of Kent State, @Western Michigan, @Akron, and at home against CMU. Combined record of those four opponents: 5-19. This is not a murderer’s row of opponents, but it is the classic trap game, over and over again. Need I remind you that it is the MAC? Where the level of surprise for some of the outcomes is actually more than if a dog walked into my apartment on its hind-legs, opened a beer, and sat down and discussed our national monetary policy.

It’s Homecoming this weekend so hopefully the good juju of thousands of alums can ward off the evil trap game spirits. Let’s see what the numbers say…

BSU vs. Kent State:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Kent State
Scoring Offense 21st (41.3) 110th (18.0)
Rushing Offense 86th (140.5) 87th (140.3)
Passing Offense 12th (337.5) 107th (183.8)
Total Offense 29th (478.0) 111th (324.2)
Scoring Defense 51st (24.5) 86th (30.3)
Rushing Defense 106th (208.2) 117th (241.8)
Passing Defense 62nd (223.5) 64th (231.5)
Total Defense 89th (431.7) 113th (473.3)
Sacks 56th (10.0) 73rd (9.0)
Sacks Allowed 42nd (8.0) 42nd (8.0)
Turnover Margin 11th (+6) 79th (-1)
3rd Down Conv. % 41st (46.1%) 63rd (41.3%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 93rd (43.3%) 99th (44%)
Red Zone Conv. % 17th (93.6%) 96th (76.9%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 38th (76.5%) 99th (89.7%)
Punting 76th (40.6) 22nd (44.5)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 7th (30.0) 72nd (51.8)

I’ve been doing By the Numbers for several years now, and I can’t remember a statistical advantage this sizable for the Cards. 1 push, and 1 statistical disadvantage is an epic thrashing on paper and may be why the sharps in Vegas continue to push this line up. In MAC games, it’s rare to have significant movement early because there are so many things unknown and the amount of money coming in usually doesn’t warrant a line change for a day or so, so those who wager enough to move a line do so on games with more attention where the line is fit to move anyway with or without them. BSU opened as an 11-point favorite and it has ballooned up to 15 yesterday and now sits at 14 as of this writing. Numbers? BSU advantage. Vegas money? BSU advantage. Consider me sold.

Ball State & Toledo by the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday the Fighting Football Cardinals return back to the friendly confines of the Scheu where they will take on the Toledo Rockets in a 3pm ESPN3.com-televised broadcast. The Rockets currently sit at 2-2 and 1-0 in the MAC with wins over Central Michigan (on the road no less!) and FCS Eastern Washington and losses on the road to open the season against Florida and Missouri, neither of whom have looked all that impressive overall, but both of whom are SEC teams.

For all intents and purposes, this is the first of a sort of “elimination game” for the MAC West. BSU fans circled two dates as Must Wins if the Cards wanted to be playing for the MAC Championship in Detroit, and this (along with NIU) was one of those two. A loss doesn’t necessarily kill your title hopes, but it certainly puts them in life support and leaves your destiny in someone else’s hands. That’s not a good place to be. What do the numbers tell us?

BSU vs. Toledo:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Toledo
Scoring Offense 19th (42.3) 84th (25.0)
Rushing Offense 87th (119.33) 59th (188.0)
Passing Offense 12th (336.0) 93rd (197.0)
Total Offense 39th (474.8) 79th (385.0)
Scoring Defense 59th (24.0) 63rd (25.0)
Rushing Defense 105th (218.0) 67th (160.25)
Passing Defense 55th (211.0) 64th (226.3)
Total Defense 91st (429.0) 67th (386.5)
Sacks 51st (7.0) 12th (11.0)
Sacks Allowed 44th (5.0) 2nd (2.0)
Turnover Margin 21st (+3) 21st (+3)
3rd Down Conv. % 16th (52.8%) 86th (36.5%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 88th (43.1%) 92nd (43.8%)
Red Zone Conv. % 29th (90.5%) 43rd (86.7%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 35th (72.7%) 41st (75.0%)
Punting 76th (40.6) 91st (39.8)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 31st (38.8) 69th (51.3)

Last week the Cardinals saw an opponent that had a statistical advantage in seven categories and they saw them on the road. They also blew them out by 31. This week’s opponent has a five stat advantage and one draw, and we get them at the Scheu. 40 point blow out? 50? Not so fast, my friend.

The one thing I’m concerned about is the Toledo rushing attack. It does numerous things, most notably put their strength against our weakest category. But a nice byproduct for the Rockets is it grinds the game out and keeps BSU’s high powered offense off the field. That’s bad.

In games this close it often comes down to the intangibles like turnovers or crowd support. We can’t control the former, but can encourage the latter. Game kicks at 3:00pm on Saturday, and if you’re anywhere near Muncie, here’s your chance to support the Cards on their way to greatness.

Ball State & EMU by the Numbers

BSU vs. EMU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU EMU
Scoring Offense 33rd (39.3) 110th (17.0)
Rushing Offense 98th (119.33) 113th (89.67)
Passing Offense 14th (332.7) 72nd (222.3)
Total Offense 49th (452.0) 112th (312.0)
Scoring Defense 67th (25.3) 94th (32.3)
Rushing Defense 107th (222.67) 105th (212.67)
Passing Defense 53rd (210.7) 42nd (198.0)
Total Defense 91st (433.3) 78th (410.7)
Sacks 74th (4.0) 5th (10.0)
Sacks Allowed 23rd (3.0) 120th (11.0)
Turnover Margin 65th (+/- 0) 36th (+2)
3rd Down Conv. % 14th (56.1%) 97th (32.6%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 95th (44.2%) 13th (27.3%)
Red Zone Conv. % 1st (100%) 80th (80%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 37th (75%) 93rd (100%)
Punting 59th (42.0) 110th (37.9)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 31st (37.3) 19th (33.0)

I’m not sure why I expected this stat comparison to be considerably more eye-opening than it was, but EMU isn’t a team to sneeze at. BSU comes into Saturday’s contest at 2-1, EMU at 1-2, but their losses were to FBS automatic qualifiers Penn State and Rutgers, both on the road. The fact that EMU has such a distinct defensive advantage by the numbers after playing those two schools is a little bit troubling, and the offensive advantage statistically enjoyed by BSU is mitigated a bit.

There are some things to take heed in, though, namely the sacks allowed by EMU and the fact that teams find the red zone every time they are there. The most troubling is that EMU gets to the QB fairly frequently themselves, which means a solid protection plan for Wenning (as has been the case all of his career) is even more important than usual. BSU has also done well on 3rd down conversions this season, EMU done well in stopping them, so something has to give in this game.

We’re three games in and Illinois State/North Texas/Army don’t necessarily equal Howard/Rutgers/Penn State, so take the above with a grain of salt. Having qualified it though, BSU does have a significant advantage statistically over the Eagles come Saturday.

Ball State & Miami by the Numbers

BSU vs. NIU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Miami
Scoring Offense 31st (35.4) 95th (23.3)
Rushing Offense 22nd (213.2) 120th (85.1)
Passing Offense  40th (268) 21st (306) 
Total Offense 18th (481.2) 78th (391.1)
Scoring Defense  94th (32.2) 107th (35.3)
Rushing Defense  112th (215.2) 123rd (242.5)
Passing Defense  92nd (257.2) 90th (253.6)
Total Defense  111th (472.4) 114th (477.2)
Sacks 84th (18) 109th (13)
Sacks Allowed 10th (8)  113th (35)
Turnover Margin  76th (-3) 86th (-4)
3rd Down Conv. %  21st (47.5%) 73rd (39.1%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 80th (42.0%)  109th (46.6%)
Red Zone Conv. %  37th (85%) 105th (73.8%
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 75th (83.3%)  41st (79.3%)
Punting  71st (40.5) 67th (40.9)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 44th (47.3) 20th (38.7) 

You would think with a 12-5 advantage in the statistics above, there would be little if any reason for concern. However, two of those stats are directly related. Miami’s 300+ yards per game passing seem tailor made for the 257.2 that the BSU defense gives up per game. On the flip side of the coin, Miami’s passing defense is better by just a smidge and the BSU offense isn’t all that far behind. In other words, bet the over as this isn’t going to be a three yards and a cloud of dust field goal contest. It has the makings of MACtion at its finest. Alabama-LSU this is not.

If the BSU defense can do a serviceable job holding Miami to red zone field goals rather than touchdowns then this one shouldn’t be close. The categories that Miami leads in above are negligible save for that opponent red zone number, and the BSU advantages are significant. This strikes me as one of those games where what will keep Ball State from winning is Ball State. Even with Keith Wenning, Jamill Smith, and Jordan Hansel out on the offensive side of the ball, this seems like the perfect time to uncork a big rushing day from the BSU backfield. I’m sure Miami notices this too, though, and there’s the rub.

On paper, even at less than full strength, BSU has a clear cut advantage, but I would reckon this one will be a bit closer than folks think.

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