GAME NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals look for their fifth win in a row as they host the Ohio University Bobcats for Mid-American Conference action at Scheumann Stadium.
Ohio's dream season which featured a 7-0 start and an appearance in the top 25 seems like a distant memory after it lost for the second time in three games last Wednesday. In front of their own Peden Stadium crowd, the Bobcats were held to a season-low of 244 yards of total offense by Bowling Green in their 26-14 loss to the Falcons. Due to the recent slump, Ohio trails Kent State by two games in the East Division standings with just two left to play.
Ball State has been one of the toughest teams in the MAC this season. The Cardinals extended their winning streak to four games last Tuesday by upsetting Toledo, 34-27, on the road to kick the Rockets out of the top 25. Their only two losses in league action this season came courtesy of Kent State and Northern Illinois, who are both undefeated in MAC games entering this week. Coach Pete Lembo's squad defeated a pair of programs from BCS Conferences (South Florida, Indiana) on the way to becoming bowl eligible for the second straight year.
Although they are coming off a terrible performance, the Bobcats still have one of the top offenses in the MAC, ranking fourth in rushing (208.6 ypg) and fourth overall (440.4 ypg).
Junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton has been sensational under center for Ohio since being named the starter. Tettleton became the school's all-time leading passer last week against Bowling Green. He has passed for 2,045 yards and 16 TDs with just two interceptions in nine games this season. He has completed 61.5 percent of his attempts (171-of-278) and produced four rushing touchdowns as well.
Tettleton keeps the opposition guessing consistently by spreading the ball around. Ten different Bobcats have at least 100 receiving yards with Donte Foster pacing the group with 518 yards and seven TDs on 42 receptions.
The Bobcats have relied heavily on Beau Blankenship to move the chains this season. The junior tailback is third in the MAC in rushing with 1,194 yards on 243 carries. Blankenship has been slowing down as the season wears on. After rushing for 100 yards or more in his first five games, Blankenship has surpassed the century mark in just one of five games since.
Ryan Boykin has become a viable second option recently. The junior tailback has carried the ball 10 or more times in four consecutive games. His best performance came on Nov. 1 when he amassed 128 yards and a score on 18 touches on the Eagles.
The Bobcats appear to have regained their defensive tenacity. Despite the loss, Ohio held Bowling Green to 288 yards of total offense last week. It was just the second time this season an opponent has failed to reach the 300-yard mark against the Bobcats.
Junior linebacker Keith Moore has been the heart and soul of the defense and has recorded a team-best 80 total tackles, which is 33 more than anyone else on the roster. Neal Huynh is an aggressive lineman and has compiled eight tackles for loss. Jelani Woseley has made seven tackles for loss as well and two of the team's nine interceptions.
Ball State's success this season is largely due to its dynamic offense which is second in the MAC with 470.5 yards per game. The only team to hold the Cardinals under 400 total yards of offense this season was Clemson.
BSU has an elite weapon out of the backfield in tailback Jahwan Edwards, who ranks sixth in the MAC with an average of 105.4 yards per game. Edwards became a campus hero when he scored a 15-yard go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter to help BSU down Toledo last week. He finished with 105 yards on 16 attempts for his fourth straight game with 100 yards or more. The sophomore tailback has accumulated 1,054 yards and 10 TDs on 183 carries this season.
Ball State also has an able passing attack with Keith Wenning under center. The junior quarterback went 29-of-42 for 280 yards with three touchdowns and the same number of interceptions in last week's triumph over Toledo. On the season, Wenning has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,705 yards with 20 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Wenning will become the program's all-time leader in completions with his next one.
Wenning has a pair of reliable targets in Willie Snead and Jamill Smith. Snead is tied for 10th in the FBS and first in the MAC with 7.3 receptions per game. He has league best totals of 73 receptions and 946 yards. Smith has made 64 catches for 670 yards and six scores.
Ball State's defensive unit is not on par with its offense. Last week, the Cardinals gave up 526 total yards to Toledo. The Rockets gained 330 yards on the ground just a week after Army rushed for 350 yards on BSU. The Cardinals' defense clearly has plenty of work to do as it is ranked 108th out of 120 FBS teams with an allowed average of 471.3 ypg.
Travis Freeman (107 tackles) and Tony Martin (63 tackles) are both key players on the defensive side of the ball. Freeman is tied for eighth in the FBS and is tied for second in the MAC in tackles. Jonathan Newsome leads the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Although Ohio is in a bit of a slump, it is still a dangerous opponent with Tettleton and Blankenship starring on the offensive side of the ball. The Bobcats are very good against opposing rushing attacks, while BSU mimics a revolving door on tackles. The Cardinals will need a huge performance out of Wenning to keep their winning streak alive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 31, Ball State 28
11/14 10:37:50 ET
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