Ball State has a chance to extend its two-game winning streak when it travels to Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals dropped three straight contests in September, but they have responded with wins over Army and Western Michigan. Eastern Michigan is coming off a 13-12 win over Miami (Ohio), improving to 4-2 on the season.
Cardinals coming off blowout winBall State opened the season with a 31-21 win over Western Illinois before hitting the skids. The Cardinals would lose their next three games, falling to Penn State, Wyoming and Toledo. They failed to score 14 points in any of those losses. It has been a nice response from the team since then, starting with an impressive win against Army two weeks ago. The Cardinals were able to hold one of the top rushing attacks in the country to just 16 points and their offense did enough to grab the win. They build on that momentum last week, picking up a 45-20 win at Western Michigan to improve to 1-1 in conference play.
"Their story is very similar to the school I came from."@JordanWard75 knows what it's like to get #OutTheMud. He did it at VMI and he's doing it again in Muncie.#WeFly l #ChirpChirp pic.twitter.com/zt9vpUwuJP— Ball State Football (@BallStateFB) October 13, 2021
Offense has been tough to come by for Ball State this year, though. It ranks No. 118 in the FBS, averaging just 319.2 yards per game. Senior quarterback Drew Plitt has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. His top target has been wide receiver Justin Hall, who has caught 34 passes for 416 yards and three scores. Jayshon Jackson has added 25 receptions for 302 yards. Running back Carson Steele paces the rushing attack with 55 carries for 241 yards and four touchdowns. They are facing an Eastern Michigan defense that is No. 73, allowing 390.0 yards per game.
Eagles looking to extend home winning streakBoth of Eastern Michigan’s losses have come on the road this season, where they fell to No. 18 Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The Eagles will be happy to be hosting Ball State on Saturday, as they are 3-0 in their three home games. They opened the season with a win over St. Francis and then added a win against Texas State to close September. Their other home victory came last week, notching a 13-12 win in an ugly game against Miami (Ohio). There were six combined field goals in the low-scoring affair, but Eastern Michigan’s lone touchdown was enough to grab a win.
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The Eagles rank No. 98 offensively, averaging 356.8 yards per game. They are led by quarterback Ben Bryant, who has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards and seven touchdowns. The offensive line has had issues in protection, allowing 18 sacks. Wide receiver Hassan Beydoun has caught 35 passes for 412 yards to lead the team. Running backs Juwan Hamilton and Darius Boone Jr. have been a nice tandem in the backfield, with each player going over 275 yards on the season. Hamilton is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, while Boone Jr. is recording 3.9 yards per attempt. They are going up against a Ball State defense that is No. 84, allowing 401.8 yards per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Ball State had an incredible season in 2020-21, elevating itself to the top of the MAC. It has not had quite as hot of a start this year, struggling to get the offense going in most of its games. I still believe the Cardinals have way more talent than Eastern Michigan, though. Plitt is a veteran quarterback who I trust to turn things around during conference play. I am not worried about this being a road game, as he has played in plenty of those during his career. These teams are evenly matched on paper, but Ball State has a little more firepower offensively—that is going to be the difference.
Full-Game Total Pick
This is not the kind of game where I want to be backing the over with a total of 55, as both offenses are in the lower third of the FBS. Each team has been stronger defensively than offensively, so I do not understand this number. Ball State is capable of putting up points, but its defense is strong enough to hold Eastern Michigan under 20 points. This might not end up like the Eagles’ 13-12 game last week, but it certainly should stay under this total. The Cardinals have gone under in seven of their last nine games, while Eastern Michigan has gone under in four of its last five games as an underdog.