FACTS & STATS: Site: Scheumann Stadium (22,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Miami-Ohio 0-6, Ball State 5-0. Away Record: Miami-Ohio 0-5, Ball State 4-2. Neutral Record: Miami-Ohio 0-0, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Miami-Ohio 0-7, Ball State 6-1. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 16-11-1.
GAME NOTES: One of the worst teams in the Mid-American Conference faces one of the league's best when the Miami-Ohio RedHawks close out the regular season at Schemann Stadium against the Ball State Cardinals.
It has been a long and miserable year for the Miami-Ohio RedHawks. Entering play on Saturday they were one of four teams, along with Georgia State, Hawaii and Southern Miss, that has failed to secure a victory. The RedHawks are 0-11 overall and obviously have not been able to top a team in league play. The losing streak for the RedHawks goes beyond this year though as they have dropped 15 straight games dating back to last season.
The outlook for Ball State is much less bleak. The Cardinals did fall, 48-27, on the road against No. 18 Northern Illinois last weekend but they are still boasting a 9-2 overall record and a 6-1 mark in league action. The Cardinals, who had won seven straight games before the loss to the Huskies, are second in the MAC's West Division. A win on Friday would give the Cardinals 10 wins for the first time since 2008 and just the third time in program history.
These teams also met in the regular-season finale a year ago when Ball State pulled out a 31-24 victory on the road to finish the year at 9-3. Despite the win, the RedHawks still own the all-time series lead at 16-11-1.
With three straight games of seven points or less and five total this season it is clear that the RedHawks have had very little luck on the offensive side of the ball. That is an understatement, considering they are last in the nation in total yards (220.8 ypg) and scoring (9.4 ppg). In fact, the RedHawks are the only team in the country averaging fewer than 10 points per game.
Austin Gearing has taken over under center after starter Austin Boucher was lost for the season to a knee injury. Even though Boucher was not an effective quarterback, Gearing has been even worse, totaling only 138 yards on 17-of-40 completions while having a pair of interceptions and zero touchdown passes. Against Buffalo Gearing was sacked seven times and had only 65 yards on 5- of-19 passing. If there is one area Gearing has been better than Boucher it is on the ground, as he has rushed for a team-high 421 yards on 118 carries.
The list of skill position players for the RedHawks is a rather limited one. Spencer Treadwell and Dawn Scott are all-purpose running backs that have each provided more than 100 yards rushing, while Scott has 22 receptions for 301 yards and a touchdown as well. David Frazier (25 receptions, 278 yards, two TDs) leads the team in receptions and is one of only four players with more than 100 yards through the air this season.
It is a small consolation, but Miami-Ohio is not the worst defensive team in the MAC, but they are the second worst. The RedHawks are allowing 475.1 yards per game to rank second in the league behind Eastern Michigan, which is one of two teams the RedHawks lead in scoring defense (33.9 ppg). Kent Kern leads the team in tackles with 92, while Bryson Albright (11.5 TFL) and Chris Wade (9.0 TFL) have shown some ability in creating negative plays.
The Miami-Ohio defense will have its hands full yet again on Friday as it tries to deal with one of the better offensive teams in the conference in Ball State. The Cardinals are scoring 38.7 points per game and rank second in the league behind only Northern Illinois in total offense (477.4 ypg).
The Cardinals rely on a pass-heavy approach led by Keith Wenning. The Ball State signal caller has thrown for 3,488 yards and 28 touchdowns to only six interceptions on 63.9 percent passing. Wenning had 324 yards through the air against Northern Illinois for his ninth 300-yard outing of the year. Wenning had a streak of eight straight 300-yard efforts to start the season.
A trio of receivers make the plays on the edge for Wenning, led by Willie Snead. Snead leads the MAC in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,296) and receiving touchdowns (13) this year and is one of only two players in the league averaging more than 100 yards through the air each week. Snead had 12 receptions for 121 yards and a score against Northern Illinois for his third straight 100-yard game and eighth of the year. Jordan Williams (63 receptions, 855 yards, eight TDs) and Jamill Smith (56 receptions, 728 yards, five TDs) are also valuable targets.
Even though they rely more heavily on throwing the ball, the Cardinals certainly can run the ball when need be. Jahwan Edwards (905 yards, 13 TDs) is one of the more dynamic rushers in the conference. Edwards had 156 yards and a touchdown against NIU bot his third 100-yard showing of the year. Horactio Banks (595 yards, seven TDs) was a valuable piece for the attack as well but missed his second game in the last three weeks against the Huskies and is out for the year with a knee injury.
The pace they play on offense has led the Cardinals down the wrong path defensively as they are among the bottom half of teams in the MAC in total defense (433.5 ypg). However, the Cardinals are fourth in the league in scoring defense (25.8 ppg) due to a MAC-leading 27 forced turnovers this year. Ben Ingle has racked up a team-leading 91 tackles this season, while Jeffery Garrett (45 tackles, five INTs) has made the most plays on the ball with the second most interceptions in the conference.
Although Miami-Ohio will have the added motivation of its final chance to win a game this year, it won't matter. Ball State's aerial assault will overwhelm the RedHawks and allow the Cardinals to enter the postseason with a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 47, Miami-Ohio 7
11/27 11:19:11 ET
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