FACTS & STATS: Site: Scheumann Stadium (22,500) — Muncie, Indiana.
Television: None. Home Record: Western Michigan 1-1, Ball State 1-1. Away
Record: Western Michigan 1-2, Ball State 0-3. Neutral Record: Western Michigan
0-0, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Western Michigan 0-1, Ball State 0-1.
Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 21-19.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos suffered a heartbreaking loss last
weekend to the Toledo Rockets in conference play, and will have to hit the
road this weekend in order to bounce back as they face the Ball State
Cardinals in a Mid-American Conference battle at Scheumann Stadium on
Western Michigan has lost two games in a row, and dropped a 20-19 overtime
decision to conference rival Toledo last weekend thanks to a missed extra
point try on the game’s final play that would have knotted the score up.
Ball State was trying to put a stop to a three-game slide when the team
traveled to West Point to take on Army, but the Cardinals fell short in a
33-24 defeat. The one win for Ball State this season came against FCS opponent
Colgate in the season’s opening week.
Western Michigan holds a very slim 21-19 all-time series lead over conference
rival Ball State. The two teams have met every season since the 1994 campaign.
Ball State has won the last two matchups and five of the last seven in the
The necessity of that missed extra point and two prior missed field goals by
Andrew Haldeman was magnified, considering it cost the Broncos the game
against a hot Toledo squad this past weekend. But there was always more the
team as a whole could have done to help turn the loss into a win. Quarterback
Zach Terrell was on his game, throwing for 370 yards and a touchdown, but he
did take four sacks in the one-point loss.
Freshman running back Jarvion Franklin was productive, but not like his usual
self. Franklin gained 64 yards and scored a touchdown on 20 carries for WMU.
This season, Franklin ranks ninth in the FBS with 682 rushing yards, and tops
the country with 12 rushing scores. As a unit, Western Michigan is gaining
182.8 rushing ypg.
Darius Phillips was Terrell’s top target against Toledo. The redshirt freshman
hauled in 10 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, while Corey Davis
caught seven passes for 124 yards. The Broncos are averaging 32 ppg this
season, and 445.2 total offensive ypg, including 262.4 passing ypg. The
offense as a whole is clicking, especially after a one-win season.
There’s been a bit of a struggle on the defensive side of the ball for the
Broncos, who are allowing 29 ppg to opponents this season. In the team’s three
losses, WMU has surrendered 43, 35 and 20 points, respectively, so the number
is on a decline. But with games against some decent MAC offense on the
horizon, the Broncos will want to tighten the screws on what could be a
legitimate title-contending season.
Grant DePalma tops the team with 47 tackles so far, and has added 4.5 tackles
for loss to his resume. Defensive lineman Cleveland Smith is the leader on WMU
with 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, while Ronald Zamort and Donald
Celsicar have each recorded a pair of interceptions (the only two on the team
to have picks this year).
Zamort and Celsicar will be licking their chops to get a piece of Ball State
Ozzie Mann, who has had big shoes to fill after taking over for former
Cardinals standout Keith Wenning. Mann hasn’t been a turnover machine this
season, he’s just been relatively unproductive. He threw for 173 yards against
Army, and had only completed six touchdown throws all season to two
Standout running back Jahwan Edwards has been somewhat quiet as well. The back
has run for 532 yards and four touchdowns in five games played, but looked
like the player everyone was expecting this season when he torched the Black
Knights for 142 yards and a pair of scores. The Cardinals are averaging 165.6
rushing ypg, and Edwards has all four of the team’s ground touchdowns in 2014.
Ball State is averaging 22 ppg and only 355 offensive ypg, so the offense will
likely have to step it up against a Western Michigan team that is strong
offensively. KeVonn Mabon leads the team with two touchdown grabs, so he’ll
need to be on point going against Zamort.
Ball State doesn’t sport a bad defense by any means. The Cardinals are
averaging 24.2 ppg surrendered to opponents, and 397.2 offensive ypg allowed.
The games in which they lost haven’t been out of hand, although 67 points
given up in the team’s past two contests isn’t exactly pretty.
Linebacker Ben Ingle has a team-high 48 tackles – 11 more than Michael Ayers’
37, which is second on the team. But Ball State hasn’t put much pressure on
opposing quarterbacks, having registered only four sacks and five quarterback
hurries this season. Terrell will be nice and comfortable in the pocket if
Ball State allows him to sit there frequently and make his decisions.
Ball State hasn’t been out of any of their four losses this season, but they
haven’t been particularly good losses either (evidenced by a 27-20 home defeat
at the hands of FCS program Indiana State). Western Michigan may be young and
rough around the edges, especially on defense, but the Broncos have an amazing
core group of offensive players led by Franklin and Terrell. The more
experience they get, the faster they will develop.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 34, Ball State 27