FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt Perry Stadium (24,000) — Bowling Green, Ohio.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Ball State 3-3, Bowling Green 4-1. Away
Record: Ball State 1-4, Bowling Green 3-3. Neutral Record: Ball State 0-0,
Bowling Green 0-0. Conference Record: Ball State 3-4, Bowling Green 5-2.
Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 20-8-1.
GAME NOTES: As the regular season comes to a close, the Bowling Green Falcons
look to wrap up a successful season in the Mid-American Conference against the
Ball State Cardinals at Doyt Perry Stadium.
Ball State ended a two-game losing skid with a 45-30 victory over Eastern
Michigan last Saturday. With a 4-7 record overall, the Cardinals don’t have
the resume to play in a bowl game this season.
Bowling Green, on the other hand, has its bowl eligibility locked up, as well
as a spot in the MAC title game representing the East Division. The Falcons
dropped a 27-20 contest against Toledo last week, but that won’t stop them
from reaching the championship match.
Bowling Green has dominated the all-time series between these two conference
rivals, leading the series by a 20-8-1 advantage. The last time these programs
met on the field was in 2009, when Bowling Green won, 31-17. Ball State hasn’t
won over the Falcons since 1996.
One season after a very successful campaign that was dominated by a solid
offense, the Cardinals have struggled at times to find any offensive rhythm.
The team is averaging 26.5 ppg largely behind the efforts of running back
Jahwan Edwards, who has rushed for 1,087 yards and 10 touchdowns on 234
Keith Wenning’s departure to the NFL left Ball State struggling to find a
replacement. They went with Ozzie Mann at first, then transitioned into Jack
Milas, who has thrown for 1,302 yards and nine touchdowns in six starts. The
young signal caller has thrown just five interceptions, and is averaging 217.0
Two receivers have stood out the most for Ball State this season in KeVonn
Mabon and Jordan Williams. Williams leads the team with five touchdown
catches, while Mabon is atop the receptions list with 53 passes caught so far.
He adds 598 yards and four touchdowns to his resume.
At times, the Cardinals have struggled to pull anything together defensively
this season. The team is surrendering 27.5 ppg through 11 contests, and is
allowing opponents to gain 426.5 offensive ypg in the same frame. Ball State
has had a tough time slowing the run game, allowing 179.9 rushing ypg and 22
touchdowns to opposition this season.
Zack Ryan has taken over as the Cardinals’ leading tackler with 81 stops,
while linebacker Ben Ingle (78 tackles) has played in just nine games. Ryan
chips in 5.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, while Darnell Smith
leads Ball State with four sacks on the season. The Cardinals will have to
slow a vicious Bowling Green run game this weekend.
The Falcons are averaging 168.5 rushing ypg this season, having already scored
25 times via the ground attack. Travis Greene is the team’s leading rusher
this season with 644 yards and eight touchdowns, but he’s missed the past few
games due to injury.That’s where Andre Givens has come into play. The tailback
has rushed for 470 yards and eight scores, and has taken over in Greene’s
absence as the lead back.
That’s been the case for quarterback James Knapke, too. Knapke entered as the
Bowling Green starting quarterback after an opening-week injury to Matt
Johnson. And Knapke has been solid, throwing for 2,514 yards and 12 touchdowns
against 10 interceptions. He helps the team to average 31.5 ppg and 438.2
The Falcons haven’t been as good on the defensive side as they would like to
be. The team enters this matchup with the Cardinals allowing opponents to
score an average of 31.7 ppg and gain 469.2 offensive ypg. It’s been several
weeks since the team held an opponent to under 20 points.
Linebacker Gabe Martin sits atop the Bowling Green stat sheet with a team-best
91 tackles, adding in 12 tackles for loss (also a team high) with two
interceptions, three pass breakups and a blocked kick. Brian Sutton isn’t too
far off the tackle pace with 84 stops so far and six tackles for loss. Lineman
Bryan Thomas leads the Falcons with six sacks, adding in 11.5 tackles for
Ball State doesn’t have much to play for here other than pride, while Bowling
Green can still decide its bowl game fate with another win. The team will be
playing in the MAC championship bout, but a win going into the contest would
be a cherry on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 28, Ball State 20