For the first half of the ball game, the Cardinals dominated the Mean Green, holding a 11-point halftime lead. However, their lead would not last, as the Cardinals were outscored 18-0 in the second half en route to a 34-27 loss. The Cardinals will need a short memory and must cast aside any negative thoughts as their MAC season opens up this weekend on the road against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
Eastern Michigan is sitting at 1-2 and is coming off a 28-10 defeat to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Eagles have struggled offensively, averaging 17 points per game and are 112th in the nation in rushing offense at 89.7 rushing yards per game.
In back to back losses to Penn State and Rutgers, the Eagles have been able to play well in the first half of both games. The Eagles trailed Penn State by 10 points at the first half (17-7) and trailed the Scarlet Knights by four points (14-10). It has been in the second half where head coach Ron English must find the answers for his team. The Eagles were outscored by a combined 42-0 in the second half in both of those loses.
The Eagles are ranked 94th in the nation in points surrendered on defense, yielding 32.3 points per game.
Ball State will look to start fast behind senior quarterback Keith Wenning. Wenning leads an air attack that is averaging 332.7 passing yards per game and has two big-play wide receivers in Willie Snead and Jamill Smith. Wenning has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 998 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Snead leads the team in receptions with 19 receptions and Smith has 13 on the season. The Cardinals might look to break offensive tendencies this weekend and take the ground against the Eagles’ defense. The Eagles are giving 212.6 rushing yards per game, and running back Horactio Banks will be counted on to balance out the Cardinals’ offense.
On defense, the Cardinals will look to force Eastern Michigan quarterback Tyler Benz into mistakes. Benz has struggled behind an offensive line that has not been able to open up running lanes for running back Bronson Hill. That has forced the Eagles into being one-dimensional and has made Benz make some poor decisions in the passing game.
Benz has been sacked 11 times on the season and has thrown for three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cardinals defense has struggled against the run this season, allowing 222.6 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals have not been opportunistic on defense in turnovers. They are even in turnover margin in three games and have only registered four sacks on the season.
Expect both teams to be up for this ball game as conference play starts and both teams look for a fresh start after last weekend’s dismal performances. In order to get the victory on Saturday, the Cardinals must be aggressive and use run blitzes in order to stuff the running lanes. If the Eagles can run the football and keep Wenning and company of the field, it can be a long afternoon.