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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
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
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.

BSU-NIU By the Numbers

BSU vs. NIU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 36th (35.8) 37th (35.6)
Rushing Offense 28th (213.6) 17th (232.0)
Passing Offense 42nd (263.6) 84th (212.0)
Total Offense 33rd (477.2) 44th (444.0)
Scoring Defense 110th (37.8) 51st (22.4)
Rushing Defense 77th (168.2) 101st (199.4)
Passing Defense 118th (317.6) 20th (180.4)
Total Defense 111th (485.8) 61st (379.8)
Sacks 91st (6.0) 22nd (13.0)
Sacks Allowed 12th (3.0) 34th (6.0)
Turnover Margin 66th (+/- 0) 83rd (-2)
3rd Down Conv. % 51st (43.2%) 10th (54.1%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 118th (52.6%) 75th (40.2%)
Red Zone Conv. % 34th (88.5%) 84th (77.3%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 118th (100%) 19th (68.8%)
Punting 54th (42.05) 104th (38.63)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 51st (49.8) 32nd (41.8)

9-8 in favor of the Huskies, with one of BSU’s 8 (scoring offense) being a virtual push. The defensive categories going in NIU’s favor is not a surprise, but two things were:

  1. The margin of those defensive categories. From 20th to dead last in passing defense, 51st to 110th in scoring defense, and over 110 yards in total defense does make me a bit nervous.
  2. Our defense has yet to limit an opponent when they hit the redzone. It hasn’t all been touchdowns, though 16 of the 19 trips have been, so suffice to say creating red zone turnovers and/or forcing field goals would be super.

Ball State-CMU By the Numbers

BSU vs. CMU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 113th (15.8) 53rd (30.0)
Rushing Offense 67th (148.5) 75th (139.0)
Passing Offense 115th (110.0) 18th (289.8)
Total Offense 117th (258.5) 35th (428.8)
Scoring Defense 78th (26.5) 15th (14.3)
Rushing Defense 89th (175.75) 18th (97.0)
Passing Defense 74th (223.5) 58th (198.3)
Total Defense 91st (399.3) 24th (295.3)
Sacks 111th (3.0) 10th (12.0)
Sacks Allowed 60th (7) 88th (10)
Turnover Margin 43rd (+1) 43rd (+1)
3rd Down Conv. % 94th (33.3%) 65th (40.4%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 118th (58.0%) 88th (43.1%)
Red Zone Conv. % 81st (78.6%) 106th (70.0%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 101st (90.9%) 4th (57.1%)
Punting 43rd (42.9) 102nd (38.1)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 78th (58.8) 100th (69.0)

We have gotten away a bit from looking at the upcoming Cardinals’ opponents by their statistical prowess. Largely because it was early, they were FCS schools, and Purdue and Iowa I needed no further rationale to expect a drubbing. Perhaps we should have pushed it off another week after this one. 11-5 advantage for the Chips with 1 push. Perhaps the scariest thing to note from above is that BSU is leading in categories that ultimately cannot dictate a game. Having fewer penalties and punting well mean virtually nothing if you cannot move the ball yourself against their stringent defense or defend their potent offense. Stats of shock to me? CMU holding opponents to just over 57% in the red zone. That’s astounding. Additionally, their defensive numbers like 15th in the nation for points allowed go hand-in-hand with that sort of performance. What stats above worry you?

Ball State-Ohio… By the Numbers

BSU vs. Ohio:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Ohio
Scoring Offense 102nd (21.0) 77th (25.0)
Rushing Offense 45th (164.25) 98th (115.50)
Passing Offense 109th (153.1) 79th (199.8)
Total Offense 101st (317.4) 104th (315.3)
Scoring Defense 96th (30.0) 42nd (21.0)
Rushing Defense 82nd (157.75) 73rd (148.0)
Passing Defense 82nd (232.8) 37th (195.4)
Total Defense 87th (390.5) 49th (343.4)
Sacks 101st (9.00) 80th (12.00)
Sacks Allowed 111th (23) 57th (14)
Turnover Margin 118th (-12) 5th (+10)
3rd Down Conv. % 89th (34.78%) 98th (33.62%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 67th (38.39%) 29th (34.15%)
Red Zone Conv. % 64th (81.82%) 112th (68.0%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 58th (81.48%) 62nd (82.76%)
Punting 80th (39.33) 110th (36.75)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 14th (43.9) 73rd (58.6)

10-7 advantage this week for Ohio, and some troubling things come to light. Most categories are a virtual push, with the exception of Ohio’s sacks allowed and their exceptional turnover margin. Ball State has struggled at times to get pressure on the opposing QB, and with an Ohio squad that prides itself on keeping their QB’s jersey clean, that’s a significant area for BSU to focus on. The turnover margin is ridiculous, as that’s over +1 per game for the Bobcats, and most Cardinals fans will tell you that BSU will need close to perfection with no gifts to spring the upset over Ohio.

Ball State-EMU… By the Numbers

BSU vs. Eastern Michigan:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
Scoring Offense 106th (19.9) 119th (13.5)
Rushing Offense 92nd (121.57) 87th (125.33)
Passing Offense 100th (174.9) 113th (144.8)
Total Offense 109th (296.4) 118th (270.2)
Scoring Defense 101st (30.4) 107th (34.5)
Rushing Defense 84th (158.43) 118th (243.67)
Passing Defense 101st (253.7) 6th (145.0)
Total Defense 102nd (412.1) 90th (388.7)
Sacks 95th (8.00) 104th (7.00)
Sacks Allowed 112th (21) 68th (13)
Turnover Margin 114th (-9) 75th (-2)
3rd Down Conv. % 93rd (34.95%) 63rd (39.13%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 74th (39.18%) 99th (44.29%)
Red Zone Conv. % 49th (85%) 117th (62.5%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 41st (77.27%) 82nd (85.19%)
Punting 80th (39.42) 41st (41.85)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 20th (44.4) 66th (57.3)

10-7 advantage for BSU. The only stats of noticeable difference that concern me are the sacks allowed and turnover margin, as both those things can sort of bite you in the ass while trying to win a game. The greatest discrepancy comes courtesy of the passing defense numbers, but EMU’s stellar numbers has less to do with their actual quality passing defense and more to do with their abysmal run defense. Teams don’t need to throw the ball to beat EMU, as they defend on average 18.5 attempts per game. That’s the lowest attempts per game in the entire country.

Ball State-BG… By the Numbers

BSU vs. Bowling Green:
National Stat Ranking & Statistic
Scoring Offense 103rd (20.3) 80th (24.7)
Rushing Offense 105th (96.33) 120th (65.67)
Passing Offense 89th (182.2) 4th (335.3)
Total Offense 116th (278.5) 43rd (401)
Scoring Defense 97th (30.3) 102nd (31.0)
Rushing Defense 96th (171.67) 107th (192.17)
Passing Defense 81st (233.3) 38th (190.2)
Total Defense 101st (405.0) 80th (382.3)
Sacks 101st (6.00) 92nd (7.00)
Sacks Allowed 116th (20) 110th (18)
Turnover Margin 109th (-8) 61st (+/- 0)
3rd Down Conv. % 82nd (36.78%) 47th (41.51%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 75th (40%) 20th (31.17%)
Red Zone Conv. % 59th (83.33%) 104th (73.33%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 47th (78.95%) 26th (73.68%)
Punting 63rd (40.39) 91st (38.70)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 21st (42.8) 71st (59.2)

Final tally? 11-6, Bowling Green. Most of the advantages for either team is fairly negligible with one sizable exception… passing offense. a 150 yard defense, and 85 spots is pretty much the definition of sizable. Here’s hoping after Saturday’s contest, those low BSU numbers skyrocket and BG’s high numbers plummet back to Earth.