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Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan: By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday, the Cardinals will play their final home game in the 2014 campaign, and though most are ready to close the book on this football season, there is still significant things for which to play, most notably, a win for the seniors. Though an EMU blasting (and ultimately even an upset of BG next week) won’t completely eradicate the negativity of the first part of this season, it will do wonders to help bolster the argument that this season’s results are an aberration and not the expected norm without NFL talent on the roster.

The rationale for this season’s results are easy to pinpoint. Lost coordinators, lost personnel, a healthy dose of unhealthy injuries, and a steeper than expected learning curve for Coaches Lynch and Kelly have put the Cards at 3-7 and scrambling after a road loss to UMass that ended the Cards’ chances at .500 and a longshot bowl berth.

This Saturday’s contest, slated for a 2pm kickoff at Scheumann Stadium is your final chance to see Jahwan Edwards and a whole host of other seniors suit up for the Cardinals for the final time at home. Vegas puts the Cardinals at 17-point favorites, but the numbers we’re concerned about is the statistics. EMU and BSU by the numbers…

Eastern Michigan @ BSU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 94th (24.6)
127th (13.6)
Rushing Offense 93rd (141.9) 87th (146.4)
Passing Offense 86th (208.7) 126th(129.3)
Total Offense 108th (350.6) 126th (275.7)
Scoring Defense 68th (27.2) 121st (39.4)
Rushing Defense 93rd (188.5) 117th (229.2)
Passing Defense 72nd (230.4) 111th (274.0)
Total Defense 82nd (418.9) 122nd (503.2)
Sacks 116th (12.0) 120th (10.0)
Sacks Allowed 19th (12.0) 111th (30.0)
Turnover Margin 26th (+6) 123rd (-13)
3rd Down Conv. % 96th (36.3%) 111th (34.0%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 93rd (42.1%) 121st (48.5%)
Red Zone Conv. % 39th (86.5%) 128th (50.0%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 12th (71.7%) 17th (73.1%)
Punting 57th (41.6) 55th (41.7)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 22nd (41.0) 69th (54.0)

I’ve been doing this a long time, and frankly, I can’t remember a more statistically overmatched team than EMU. The numbers above have little to do with BSU and everything to do with EMU. They’re bad. Real bad. Anything less than a Cardinal dominating win and I’m going to be a bit disappointed. It’s time to blow the stench of this season’s frustrations and missed opportunities out the door. 2pm. Scheumann Stadium. See you there.


Ball State vs Akron: By the Numbers

By the Numbers200I remember when Ball State was caught smack in the middle of a 20+ game losing streak. I said to my current girlfriend at the time that if the Cardinals could ever find the victory train, the mental breakthrough may rattle off a couple of wins. If memory serves me correctly, once the streak was ended that’s exactly what happened. After a win last Saturday on the road against CMU, and now returning home to face Akron, the same could very well be argued for with little rebuttal from opposing views.

Akron has been in some respects surprising in that they were quite awful for a significant period of time, winning just six games total for the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons. Last year saw Terry Bowden improve the Zips to 5-7, and some were even pointing to Akron as the darkhorse contrarian pick for the MAC East if you didn’t want to pick BG.

The Zips come in to Saturday with a 4-3 record with their biggest win on the road against 4-3 Pitt. Their three other wins were against FCS Howard, Eastern Michigan, and Miami, all at home. Their losses are Penn State and Ohio on the road and Marshall at home. So in all reality, they have no shameful losses and the majority of folks are picking Akron to win this weekend. Vegas opened the line with the Zips as a 1-point favorite, but that has since shifted to two. Let’s see what the other numbers say…

Akron @ BSU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Akron
Scoring Offense 91st (25.7)
105th (23.1)
Rushing Offense 81st (151.7) 107th (125.0)
Passing Offense 89th (210.1) 38th(266.0)
Total Offense 106th (361.9) 85th (391.0)
Scoring Defense 75th (27.4) 12th (18.1)
Rushing Defense 103rd (197.0) 33rd (131.4)
Passing Defense 51st (218.7) 59th (226.1)
Total Defense 76th (415.7) 44th (357.6)
Sacks 122nd (5.0) 16th (21.0)
Sacks Allowed 28th (10.0) 73rd (15.0)
Turnover Margin 16th (+6) 16th (+6)
3rd Down Conv. % 75th (39.6%) 112th (33.0%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 92nd (42.4%) 32nd (34.0%)
Red Zone Conv. % 60th (84.6%) 126th (64.3%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 12th (71.0%) 9th (70.0%)
Punting 47th (42.2) 17th (44.5)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 28th (45.6) 121st (81.9)

So Ball State has a 7-9 disadvantage with one draw in the above statistics but given that Akron’s record is 4-3 with a 2-1 MAC mark, I would have expected the difference to be considerably more lopsided. The biggest concern is Akron’s great at passing the ball for chunks of yardage, but once they get in the red zone they struggle to put points on the board. That’s a critical point of emphasis for the defense. They also are stout defensively, more so against the rush than the pass, so it may be a Milas kind of afternoon for the Cards. Kickoff at the Scheu on Saturday is 2pm and we’ll see you there.

Ball State vs Central Michigan: By the Numbers

By the Numbers200As we indicated earlier this week, Saturday’s contest on the road against Central Michigan is big for so many reasons, not the least of which is breaking the losing streak the Cardinals are mired in, which currently sits at five games. It’s also imperative to win this weekend to have any hope of landing in the neighborhood of .500, and even that will require an upset or two along the way. Suffice to say, this weekend’s contest is big.

It’s game number two in the Jack Milas era, and after last week’s performance, big things are expected from the redshirt freshman. That’s especially true given Jordan Williams’ return to form against Western Michigan in the Cards’ last outing. The loss last weekend on Homecoming? Disappointing. The news circling the drain this week around the Cards? Not so great. But nothing cures those sorts of ills like a win. Let’s see what the numbers say…

Central Michigan vs BSU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 94th (24.7)
101st (23.0)
Rushing Offense 69th (162.2) 84th (150.9)
Passing Offense 88th (212.2) 87th (214.1)
Total Offense 96th (374.3) 104th (365.0)
Scoring Defense 76th (27.2) 55th (23.7)
Rushing Defense 100th (199.7) 60th (151.1)
Passing Defense 43rd (214.3) 30th (204.0)
Total Defense 78th (414.0) 38th (355.1)
Sacks 122nd (4.0) 107th (8.0)
Sacks Allowed 28th (8.0) 100th (16.0)
Turnover Margin 44th (+2) 64th (+/-0)
3rd Down Conv. % 71st (40.6%) 53rd (42.7%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 86th (42.1%) 75th (40.2%)
Red Zone Conv. % 77th (81.8%) 54th (84.6%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 23rd (73.1%) 68th (89.3%)
Punting 45th (42.7) 107th (39.1)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 47th (49.0) 16th (39.7)

Out of 17 statistical categories, CMU leads in 10, which I honestly thought would be higher. To me, the above stats highlight some critical elements. CMU’s defense is stronger against the pass than the run, so it may be a FEASTMODE kind of day for Quake. The biggest issues come on the Cardinal defensive side of the ball. CMU has allowed an abnormally high amount of sacks this year, and getting to the quarterback is something that BSU has struggled to achieve. Those sacks could create a favorable down and distance and force CMU punts, which they have also struggled with this year. With teams fairly evenly matched, this could be a game that comes down to little things like field position, turnovers, and penalties.

Ball State vs. Western Michigan: By the Numbers

SBy the Numbers200aturday 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…

Western Michigan @ BSU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 105th (22.0)
59th (32.0)
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.

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.

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
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.

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
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
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?