The MAC will showcase a marquee matchup on Wednesday night between two of the league’s most explosive offenses in the Ball State Cardinals (9-1) and Northern Illinois Huskies (9-0). This game has huge implications within the conference and can springboard the winner into the top spot within the West division.
The Cardinals will look to challenge the Huskies’ secondary with the No. 16 ranked passing offense in the nation. The Cardinals are averaging 323 passing yards per game and have one the best signal callers in the conference in quarterback Keith Wenning. On the year, Wenning has completed 62.9 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. The senior is cool under pressure and makes very good decisions in the pocket. Wenning’s two favorite targets are wide receivers Willie Snead and Jordan Williams. Both players have combined for 131 receptions for 1,975 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ball State is balanced on offense and is averaging 153 rushing yards per game.
Northern Illinois is giving up 25 points per game in scoring defense and is allowing 271.6 passing yards per game. The Huskies are solid against the run and have allowed 147.1 rushing yards per game. Northern Illinois has been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year and have 26 sacks through nine games.
Northern Illinois will look to exploit holes in the Cardinals’ defense by pounding the football at the middle of their defensive front. The Huskies have the nation’s fourth best rushing offense in the country averaging 312.7 yards per game. Led by quarterback Jordan Lynch, the Huskies have been able to wear down opposing defenses all season long. Lynch has thrown for 19 touchdowns and leads the team in rushing with 1,150 yards (6.6 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns).
The Cardinals are yielding 23.6 points per game and are mediocre at shutting down the run this season. On the year, the Cardinals are giving up 197.5 rushing yards per game and are allowing 222.4 passing yards per game.
Ball State has been very opportunistic in creating turnovers this year and has a +10 in turnover margin. Northern Illinois is very good at creating turnovers, as well, and has a +9 in turnover margin on the season.
Prediction: Ball State has the best quarterback in the conference in Wenning and look for the Cardinals wide receivers to stretch the field against a suspect Huskies’ secondary. The Cardinals will strike first and hold on for the road upset.
Ball State 45, Northern Illinois 40.