Eastern Michigan (2-8) at Ball State (3-7) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Scheumann Stadium (22,500) — Muncie, Indiana.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 2-2, Ball State 2-3. Away
Record: Eastern Michigan 0-6, Ball State 1-4. Neutral Record: Eastern Michigan
0-0, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern Michigan 1-5, Ball State 2-4.
Series Record: Ball State leads, 32-21-2.

GAME NOTES: As both teams attempt to put a stop to losing streaks, the Eastern
Michigan Eagles and Ball State Cardinals will clash in a Mid-American
Conference battle at Scheumann Stadium on Saturday.

Eastern Michigan has dropped four consecutive games – all in conference play –
and now sits at 1-5 in the MAC. The Eagles were demolished by Western Michigan
over the weekend, 51-7.

Ball State has lost two in a row since going on a short two-game win streak,
and was dropped by conference foe Massachusetts last weekend, 24-10, on the
road after failing to get any offense going.

These two MAC rivals have a long-standing history, with Ball State owning the
all-time series over Eastern Michigan, 32-21-2. The Eagles have lost three in
a row to the Cardinals, and eight of their last nine altogether.

It became clear very fast that Eastern Michigan could not match up with its
intrastate rival last Saturday, as the Eagles fell behind on the very first
kickoff. EMU trailed Western Michigan 48-0 at the half, and managed just a
third-quarter touchdown in the defeat. Quarterback Reginald Bell is still
learning on the job, but is the most explosive player the Eagles have in both
the passing game and run game. Bell has passed for 769 yards and four
touchdowns in six games played after taking over for Rob Bolden under center.

Rushing the ball, Bell has gained 468 yards and has scored a team high-tying
four times with his legs. He’s proven to be the most dynamic player in the run
game, using his feet way more effectively than his arm. Bronson Hill has
rushed for 288 yards, and caught a 76-yard scoring pass from Bell against WMU.
Ryan Brumfield also has four rushing touchdowns this season.

The Eagles have racked up a pretty miserable 13.6 ppg average this season, and
has managed just 129.3 passing ypg with eight passing scores all season long.
Tight end Tyreese Russell has been the only reliable target for Bell, hauling
in 29 passes for 393 yards and two scores. He’s the only receiving threat to
have played in all 10 games this season.

It’s one thing that the offense hasn’t been able to hold its own weight
through 10 games (scoring no more than 17 points in four consecutive games),
but the defense hasn’t done the team any favors either. In back-to-back games,
EMU has surrendered 38 and 51 points, respectively, to CMU and WMU. The
defense is allowing 39.4 ppg to opponents, a 48.5 percent third-down
conversion rate and has only recorded 12 takeaways in 10 games.

Linebacker Great Ibe (109 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss) has been one of the
lone bright spots on a very porous defense. Lineman Pat O’Connor is the other,
having registered 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 10 games played.
Both players will need to be able handle a strong Ball State rushing attack
led by Jahwan Edwards.

Edwards was ineffective for the Cardinals against Massachusetts the last time
out, rushing 16 times for 36 yards as the offense scored just 10 points. This
season though, Edwards has been a consistent producers for Ball State, racking
up 956 yards with nine touchdowns on 215 carries. He’s a huge part of an
offense that averages 24.6 ppg one season after starting quarterback Keith
Wenning turned pro.

It’s always difficult replacing one of the best quarterbacks in program
history, which Wenning certainly was. The Cardinals went with Ozzie Mann early
in the season, but made the switch to Jack Milas five games ago, and he’s been
relatively consistent since. Milas has thrown for 1,133 yards and seven
touchdowns against five interceptions, averaging 226.6 passing ypg. With a
tailback as talented as Edwards, Milas is needed as more of a game manager,
which he has done well, save for two consecutive losses.

KeVonn Mabon and Jordan Williams are the top two receiving threats for Milas
this season. Mabon leads the team with 598 receiving yards and four
touchdowns, and Williams has a team-high five receiving scores. Williams was
the one to haul in Ball State’s lone touchdown in the loss at UMass.

With a sturdier defense, Ball State may actually have a winning record this
season. The Cardinals lost three games earlier in the season by a single
score, and dropped another pair by roughly 10 points. Four times this season
the Cardinals have allowed an opponent to score more than 30 points, which is
the reason for the 27.2 ppg for opponents when they play Ball State. What’s
more, the Cardinals are allowing challengers to gain 418.9 ypg in 10 contests
this season.

The Cardinals are pretty adept at forcing turnovers, however. The team has
gained 10 interceptions this season, and has recorded 11 fumble recoveries.
Eric Patterson leads the team with three interceptions, while Michael Ayers
and Sean Wiggins each have two fumble recoveries. Linebacker Ben Ingle tops
the squad with 71 tackles on the season, while Darnell Smith has added 5.5
tackles for loss and four sacks. Forcing turnovers is a great way to easily
down Eastern Michigan.

The Eagles haven’t won a game on the road this season, and while Ball State
isn’t the dominant team it was last year, the Cardinals still have a tough
offense to contain. Eastern Michigan’s defense will likely find it hard to
limit Edwards, who should bounce back from a sub-par week.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 34, Eastern Michigan 21