A crossover tilt of Mid-American Conference foes dots the week 5 college football landscape in the Hoosier State. The Kent State Golden Flashes are on the road as they take on the Ball State Cardinal Saturday afternoon. Kent State came up a 38-17 loser on the road against Ole Miss in non-conference action last Saturday. Ball State dropped their third in a row as they were dumped 28-20 at home by Western Kentucky last Saturday. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 20-7, including a 27-24 road win in the last meeting, which came on October 12, 2013.
Kent State Golden Flashes Hope for Conference Victory
Kent State managed to come up with a decent showing against Ole Miss in a game that was impacted by weather but ultimately lost the game by three scores. The Golden Flashes hope facing a conference foe for the first time this season can get them back in the win column. Kent State was tied at seven at halftime but couldn’t answer Ole Miss’s touchdown to open the second half. The Golden Flashes drew no closer than four after that as the Rebels pulled away. In the game, Kent State was outgained 651-390. They allowed 26 first downs while recording 23, turned the ball over twice while forcing one takeaway and lost the time of possession battle by a 32:08 to 27:52 margin.
The Golden Flashes are mediocre offensively as they are currently 83rd in the FBS in passing offense with 212 yards per game while the team is 63rd in rushing with 181.8 yards per game. Kent State comes into this game 88th in the nation in scoring offense with 26.2 points per contest and is 110th in scoring defense by allowing 36.5 points per game. Woody Barrett has completed 85 of 148 passes for 826 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions while adding 170 yards plus three scores on the ground. Kavious Price hit his lone pass attempt for an 18-yard score while Dustin Crum is one of four for four yards. Justin Rankin (45 carries, team-high 263 yards, TD) and Jo-El Shaw (27 carries, 149 yards, three TD) are a decent 1-2 combination on the ground. Mike Carrigan has hauled in a team-leading 19 passes for 205 yards plus two scores. Antwan Dixon (14 grabs, 143 yards, TD), Isaiah McKoy (10 receptions, 125 yards, TD) and Trey Harrell (10 receptions, 80 yards) are also valuable targets in the passing game. Matthew Trickett has hit all 13 extra point attempts and four of five field goal attempts this season with a long of 34.
Ball State Cardinals Seek Home Victory
Ball State has dropped three straight as they were unable to solve Western Kentucky at home in their last outing. The Cardinals now try to get back on track by facing a team that they have had good success against in the past. Ball State led 10-7 at the half and 20-14 midway through the fourth quarter before wilting as Western Kentucky scored two touchdowns in the final 4:41. The Cardinals were outgained 444-405, allowed 29 first downs while recording 24 and saw the Hilltoppers control the clock by a 31:24 to 28:36 margin. There were no turnovers in the game: Ball State’s defense simply couldn’t come up with the stops late.
The Cardinals are 68th in the FBS in passing offense as they average 236 yards per game and 45th in rushing with 202.8 yards per contest. Ball State is 110th in scoring offense as they put up 22 points per contest and 64th in scoring defense as they allow 24 points per game. Riley Neal is 85 of 149 passing for 839 yards with four touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards plus a score. Drew Plitt is seven of 10 for 105 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Caleb Huntley is second on the Cardinals with 32 carries for 171 yards on the ground this season. Malik Dunner (17 carries, 109 yards, two TD) and James Gilbert (59 carries, team-high 302 yards, two TD) are also in the mix. Justin Hall leads the team with 21 receptions for 175 yards while Riley Miller (19 grabs, 231 yards) and Corey Lacanaria (19 catches, 216 yards, TD) also are solid targets. Morgan Hagee is 10 of 10 on extra points and six of nine on field goals with a long of 49.
- Cardinals are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games in September
- Golden Flashes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 conference games
- Golden Flashes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Kent State’s defense has been suspect so far this season, especially on the ground. If you throw out their win over Howard, where they held the Bison to 65 yards on 53 rushing attempts, the other three foes the Golden Flashes have faced combined for 129 attempts for 790 yards on the ground. Giving up better than six yards a carry and 13 rushing scores in those three games is a major red flag. Kent State has to tighten up on that side of the ball if they hope to have a chance on the road. Ball State averages more than 200 yards a game on the ground and puts up five yards per carry. Look for a heavy dose of the ground game as the Cardinals rotate their backs en route to the victory.
Prediction: Ball State Cardinals -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams have faced Power Five competition already this season. While Kent State had a narrow seven-point loss to Illinois to start the season, they were hammered 63-10 by Penn State and 38-17 by Ole Miss. Ball State has stumbled with losses to Western Kentucky and a blowout loss to Indiana. However, one shouldn’t overlook the Cardinals’ tough showing in a 24-16 road loss in South Bend to a Notre Dame team ranked in the top 10. Can the Cardinals regain their composure now that conference play is on the table?
The under is 6-0 in the Golden Flashes’ last 6 road games vs. a team with a losing home record, 6-1 in their last 7 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game and 5-2 in their last seven in September. Ball State has seen the under go 5-0 in their last five overall, 5-0 in their last five on fieldturf and 4-1 in their last five at home against teams with a losing road record. Given that Kent State’s scoring average is pumped up by the win over Howard and Ball State has been relatively tough defensively, this one should stay under the number.
Prediction: Under 64
Half-Time Side Pick
Both teams come in looking to try and put a victory on the board. There are issues for both teams. Kent State was bombed in two games already this season by Power Five programs while Ball State hasn’t found a way to get their offense firing on all cylinders. The Cardinals have talent in the run game and they have an experienced quarterback. Things just haven’t clicked yet. Facing a Kent State team that is 110th in the nation in scoring defense could help. Look for Ball State to hold the advantage at the half.
Prediction: Ball State Cardinals -4
Half-Time Total Bet
Offense has been a problem this season for both teams. Kent State is just 88th in the FBS in scoring offense while Ball State is even worse at 110th this season. While the defenses are having problems, you can’t expect things to magically improve leaps and bounds because of a mediocre defense by the opposition. The teams should move the ball with some consistency but to expect an offensive barrage may be a bit foolhardy. Look for this one to fall under the number at the half.
Prediction: Under 32.5 -110