Central Michigan earned its sixth win of the season two weeks ago to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2017. According to Yahoo Sports, the Chippewas are projected to play Western Kentucky in the Bahamas Bowl, but they could improve upon their standing before the end of the season with back-to-back wins to close out the schedule. Meanwhile, Ball State still has a chance to earn bowl eligibility by winning two of their final three regular-season games. After this week, the Cardinals will travel to Kent State before ending the season with a home game against Miami (Ohio). Can the Cardinals get back on the winning track at home versus Central Michigan on Saturday?
Chippewas earn sixth win to become bowl eligibleCentral Michigan will be fresh off a bye after becoming bowl eligible with a 48-10 victory over Northern Illinois in their last game. Quinten Dormady completed 18-of-24 for 288 yards and three touchdowns while Kobe Lewis took his 17 carries for 143 yards and a score in a resounding win for the Chippewas. Central Michigan forced four turnovers and outgained Northern Illinois 615 to 251 in terms of total yardage in an all-around dominant performance.
Dormady has now thrown for 1,310 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only four interceptions so far this season. A rare, double graduate transfer, Dormady leads an offense that comes in scoring 30.0 points and averaging 439.1 yards of total offense per game. The 6-foot-5 senior lost the starting job after getting hurt in the team’s 62-0 loss to Wisconsin and was relegated to a backup role upon his return to health. However, he got another opportunity after junior David Moore was struck with a ban for violating the NCAA’s substance abuse policy. Since then, it has been smooth sailing for Domady, who has thrown for eight touchdowns and only three interceptions over the last four games while leading the team to three wins during that span. His top target is Khalil Pimpleton, who has caught 62 balls for 653 yards and six scores already this year.
As good as the quarterback play has been for the Chippewas this season, Central Michigan’s offense revolves around a steady dose of the run game. The combination of senior Jonathan Ward and sophomore Kobe Lewis has been tough to stop, helping Central Michigan average a healthy 190.0 yards per game on the ground this year. Ward has eclipsed 2,000 career yards and has a team-high 863 yards and 10 touchdowns while Lewis has compiled 788 yards and nine touchdowns through 10 games. Both backs went over 100 yards with a touchdown last week.
On defense, the Chippewas have surrendered 27.1 points and 354.2 yards of total offense per game. Stopping the run will be a major point of emphasis for Central Michigan this week. They come in allowing only 110.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks 19th in the country.
Ball State can't hold on vs. Western MichiganBall State lost control of the MAC West division race after squandering a late lead against Western Michigan last Tuesday. Caleb Huntley ran for 120 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Drew Pitt completed 14-of-22 for 148 yards in the 35-31 loss. Kick returner Malik Dunner turned the tide of the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score to open the second half and Ball State took a pair of fourth-quarter leads on long touchdown drives, but they were unable from keeping the Broncos from responding. The defense surrendered a whopping 506 total yards, including 382 yards on the ground, as Ball State lost its second straight game.
Pitt leads an offense that comes in averaging 32.8 points and 437.9 yards of total offense per game. The junior signal-caller has thrown for 2,125 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions so far this season.
It has been nearly a month since Ball State earned its fourth win of the season. Two victories still separate the Cardinals from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura believes that they have a good chance of making that happen, projecting Ball State to play in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force on Jan. 4. The Cardinals have an 0-7 record in bowl games in school history.
Ball State’s defense enters the week allowing 29.3 points and 410.1 yards of total offense per game, including 182.6 yards per game on the ground. They will have to find a way to do a better job of stopping the run after being gashed for 698 rushing yards over the past two weeks.
- Chippewas are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
- Chippewas are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
- Chippewas are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Cardinals are 11-24 ATS in their last 35 home games.
- Cardinals are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games following an ATS win.
- Cardinals are 3-13 ATS in their last 16 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.