Saturday marks a significant turn of events in Ball State football and a watershed moment in 2014. It’s not only Homecoming, where the crowd at tailgating will almost certainly dwarf the fans in the stands. It’s not only game one of the Milas era, where presumably the turf in front of receivers’ feet will breathe a welcome sigh of relief. Besides those two things, it’s the beginning of the real MAC season, where believe it or not, Ball State can still play havoc with the conference race.
Talk about a potential storybook ending! Jack Milas comes in after a rocky first five games and leads the Cardinals to a Homecoming victory that springboards the Cardinals on to win out, claim the MAC West once Toledo loses a second conference game, and play for a MAC title in Detroit. I can see it now.
But first on that agenda is a Homecoming win over the 2-3 Western Michigan Broncos, losers of two straight games to Toledo and Virginia Tech. Let’s see what the numbers say…
|Scoring Offense||105th (22.0)
|Rushing Offense||71st (165.7)||49th (187.4)|
|Passing Offense||99th (189.4)||51st (257.8)|
|Total Offense||102nd (355.0)||47th (445.2)|
|Scoring Defense||60th (24.2)||87th (29.0)|
|Rushing Defense||99th (198.0)||88th (180.8)|
|Passing Defense||27th (199.2)||60th (229.0)|
|Total Defense||71st (397.2)||78th (409.8)|
|Sacks||121st (4.0)||113th (6.0)|
|Sacks Allowed||30th (7.0)||70th (11.0)|
|Turnover Margin||67th (+/- 0)||42nd (+2)|
|3rd Down Conv. %||93rd (37.7%)||67th (42.0%)|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv. %||83rd (41.6%)||69th (40.0%)|
|Red Zone Conv. %||69th (82.4%)||50th (85.7%)|
|Opp. Red Zone Conv. %||15th (69.6%)||79th (84.2%)|
|Punting||84th (40.7)||33rd (43.4)|
|Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game||38th (47.8)||78th (58.6)|
I can’t remember the last time a MAC team not named “Northern Illinois” held such a slanted statistical advantage. It’s 11-6 bad guys, and even if you knock out the stats like rushing defense and passing defense because of the oddities that are created by playing Army. Even with that qualifier, it’s not great news when you look at the chart above. Something else for you to consider is the teams those statistics were accumulated against. For Ball State, their opponents were two FCS schools (Colgate and Indiana State), a B1G opponent playing a C+ game at best (Iowa), a service academy on a three-game losing streak (Army), and a multiple weather stoppage conference opponent (Toledo). For the Broncos, that advantage was gained by playing a common opponent in Toledo, ans also Purdue, Idaho, Murray State (FCS), and Virginia Tech. So make of that what you will. The Vegas line on the game is Ball State -1 and I am absolutely shocked that is the case.