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Just How Good is Ball State This Season?

logo200When you are talking about Mid-American Conference teams, usually everyone has a loss fairly early on. The conference has a hard time competing with power conference schools, and most of the early season schedules are littered with them. Ball State is the exception, opting to go with a fairly easy opening schedule, and having just Virginia later in the year as their lone BCS opponent. The question is, can Ball State take advantage of this schedule and make a run at Northern Illinois for the MAC West title?

Just two games in, Ball State has made relatively quick work of powerful teams such as Illinois State and Army. Alright, so there is not a lot someone can gather from that type of schedule, but at least they didn’t drop a game to a FCS opponent like a few MAC schools already have. North Texas in Week 3 is another winnable game, and then they get a road game in front of hundreds of fans at Eastern Michigan before entering a somewhat tough part of their schedule.

Toledo, Virginia and Kent State to start off the month of October might not be murderer’s row, but this is where the team is most likely to pick up a loss before the Northern Illinois matchup on November 13. If they can avoid losing any games before that matchup, it could be the MAC’s version of “The Game Of The Century.” Both probably could find themselves in the Top 25, and who knows, they could be poised for another BCS buster.

The Cardinals lucked out when it comes to the MAC East opponents, as they do not have to play Bowling Green or Ohio in the regular season. They might still face one of these two teams in Detroit to end the season, but for now, they are safe. Kent State is the only dangerous crossover game currently on their schedule, but they just got beat down by Bowling Green by 19.

So how can Ball State actually take advantage of a down MAC in 2013? It all starts with staying relatively healthy. In Week 2, they had to do without Jahwan Edwards, but he is expected to be back at full strength later in the season. He wasn’t needed against Army, who looked downright terrible in their 40-14 loss in Muncie. There have been some who would like to see Army and Navy get in the MAC to help the football side of things, but with the way the two service academies are going, they would probably do more harm than good.

Keith Wenning has been impressive at quarterback so far, passing for 665 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games of the season has endeared him to fans and fantasy football players alike. He is a classic drop back quarterback who will not do much on the ground, as he leaves that work mostly to the trio of Horacito Banks, Teddy Williamson and Edwards.

Defensively, the team looked better in Week 2, but there is still some room for improvement. You are not going to lose a lot of games when you put up 91 total points in two games, but giving up 28 to Illinois State in Week 1 was not acceptable. Fans can’t take a lot from the Army statistics either, because since their passing game is pretty non-existent at all times, Ball State did not exactly shut them down. There are some decent quarterbacks left on the schedule, including Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, so the secondary does need to continually work on things if Ball State wants to put together a special season.

The schedule should allow for Ball State to have a pretty solid season overall. Other than the Northern Illinois on the road, they have a shot to win every other game on their schedule. Virginia can be knocked off, but chances are even if the Cardinals do beat them, they will lose at least one other game in the regular season. Still, a 10-2 season and a bid to one of the top MAC bowl games would be a successful season for Pete Lembo in his third year at the helm. Many people were unsure about how this team would look entering the season, but right now they are primed to take advantage of a struggling MAC. Other than Northern Illinois, they might just be the most dangerous team to go up against this season.

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