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Ball State vs. Army: By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday, the Cardinals attempt to right the 2014 season on the road in upstate New York when they take on the United States Military Academy. Ball State holds a 3-2 advantage over the Black Knights and have won three straight, but overall they are just 1-2 in historic Michie Stadium. For Army, it’s a bounceback game as well, as they have dropped three straight games, all on the road and stand at 1-3 overall. Yes, they lost Yale, but they also beat Buffalo. This season makes no sense and frankly, these two teams could have any possible outcome Saturday and it wouldn’t shock me at all.

For Ball State, this is a litmus test for the defense under coordinator Kevin Kelly. Army’s triple option attack is no secret and it’s not tricky. It’s easy to gameplan for but a real pain in the ass to execute because it requires attention to detail and precision; two things, by the way, that the Cardinals haven’t had a ton of this season.

A win and it’s a bright spot heading into conference play and a respite from the negativity that has surrounded the program in the last few games. Losses to FCS Indiana State, Toledo, and Iowa with just a lone win against FCS Colgate have left the fanbase in shambles and armchair coaching everything from offensive playcalling to starting personnel, some of which more warranted than the others. Suffice to say, it’s a massively important game to gain some momentum heading into the remainder of conference play. Let’s see what the numbers say…

BSU @ Army:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Army
Scoring Offense 105th (21.5)
77th (27.8)
Rushing Offense 68th (167.8) 9th (316.5)
Passing Offense 101st (193.5) 125th (90.8)
Total Offense 99th (361.3) 74th (407.3)
Scoring Defense 48th (22.0) 111th (36.8)
Rushing Defense 58th (141.3) 98th (196.8)
Passing Defense 69th (237.0) 111th (286.3)
Total Defense 57th (378.3) 115th (483.0)
Sacks 120th (3.0) 116h (4.0)
Sacks Allowed 34th (6.0) 21st (4.0)
Turnover Margin 53rd (+1) 53rd (+1)
3rd Down Conv. % 72nd (40.6%) 100th (35.3%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 57th (37.1%) 117th (48.9%)
Red Zone Conv. % 88th (78.6%) 119th (64.3%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 18th (68.8%) 85th (86.4%)
Punting 103rd (39.7) 73rd (41.4)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 48th (50.8) 86th (63.0)

Some things stand out to me even more so than the 10-6 edge Ball State enjoys, namely the 48th rank in penalty yards. I can’t remember a Lembo-led squad in Muncie ever being outside the top 30, and usually closer to the top 5. It speaks to the lack of precision we talked about above. I would also like to thank Army’s unused passing game for letting BSU get a stat advantage despite being ranked 101st nationally in passing offense. Given how much more important the pass is to Ball State than Army, I’d say that’s a win for the Black Knights.

Kickoff on Sunday is at noon, and you can check it out nationally on CBS Sports Network.

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