Ball State (8-3) at Miami-Ohio (4-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yager Stadium (24,286) -- Oxford, Ohio. Television: MAC Digital Network. Home Record: BSU 4-1, Miami 3-1. Away Record: BSU 4-2, Miami 1-6. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, Miami 0-0. Conference Record: BSU 5-2, Miami 3-4. Series Record: Miami leads, 16-10-1.
GAME NOTES: Zac Dysert will try to make his final collegiate game memorable as his Miami-Ohio RedHawks host the red hot Ball State Cardinals for a Mid- American Conference regular-season finale at Yager Stadium.
Ball State has been one of the toughest teams in the MAC this season. The Cardinals extended their winning streak to five games last Wednesday by upsetting Ohio University, 52-27, in their home finale in Muncie. Their only two losses in league action this season came courtesy of Kent State and Northern Illinois, the two teams headed to Detroit for the MAC Championship on Nov. 30. 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.
After the RedHawks' surprise 23-20 victory over the then ranked and undefeated Ohio Bobcats on Oct. 27, it appeared as if they were going to make a run towards the bowl season. Miami instead lost its next three games to Buffalo (27-24), Kent State (48-32), and Central Michigan (30-16) to drop to 4-7 overall and erase any hopes of a postseason berth. Coach Don Treadwell's team can still improve upon 2011's 4-8 finish with a win versus BSU on senior day.
The Cardinals will try to gain ground in their all-time series with Miami in this one, as they come in trailing 16-10-1 in games versus the RedHawks.
Ball State's success this season is largely due to its dynamic offense which is second in the MAC with 481.2 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 fifth in the MAC with an average of 111.2 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 two weeks ago. In the team's most recent win over Ohio, he finished with 169 yards on 17 attempts for his fifth straight game with 100 yards or more. The sophomore tailback has accumulated 1,223 yards and 11 TDs on 200 carries this season.
Ball State had an able passing attack with Keith Wenning under center. Unfortunately, the junior quarterback will miss Friday's contest due to an ankle injury. Fifth-year senior Kelly Page filled in for Wenning after he was sidelined last week to produce three total touchdowns in his final home game. He will get the starting nod this week.
Page will utilize a pair of reliable targets in Willie Snead and Jamill Smith. Snead is ranked 16th in the FBS and second in the MAC with 6.9 receptions per game. He has team best totals of 76 receptions and 1,000 yards. Smith has made 69 catches for 706 yards and six scores. Last week, Zane Fakes had a big time performance with seven receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns
Ball State's defensive unit is not quite on par with its offense, but it has held four of its last five opponents to less than 30 points. Last week, the Cardinals gave up 482 total yards to Ohio. Over its past three games, the defensive unit has surrendered 883 rushing yards.
Travis Freeman (117 tackles) and Tony Martin (78 tackles) are both key players on the defensive side of the ball. Freeman is 12th on the FBS leaderboard and is second in the MAC in tackles. Jonathan Newsome leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Despite playing for the program that once housed Pittsburgh Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger, Miami's Zac Dysert managed to surpass the Super Bowl winner to become to school's all-time leading passer. Dysert is at the center of the potent Redhawks' passing attack which ranked second in the MAC and 21st in the FBS with 306 ypg.
The senior has delivered some inspiring performances this season, the most notable of which was his 500-yard passing and 100-yard rushing game versus Akron. Coming into the final game of his career, Dysert has amassed totals of 11,795 yards, 71 TDs, and 51 INTs.
Nick Harwell was one of the elite wideouts in the MAC last season with 1,425 yards, 97 receptions, and nine TDs. Harwell got off to a slow start in 2012, but he has been unstoppable as of late. The junior wideout has tallied over 100 receiving yards in four of his last five games. Last week at CMU, Harwell set a pair of season-highs with 11 receptions for 225 yards. The strong showing extended his streak of games with double-digit reception totals to three.
Dawan Scott has been one of the better receivers in the MAC this season as well. He was Miami's leader in yards until Harwell's recent outburst, but the BSU secondary will not be able to sleep on his big play ability. Scott has 731 yards and six scores on just 48 receptions.
While the RedHawks are fortunate to have dependable pass-catchers, the running game has been less stellar with Jamire Westbrook (339 yards) leading the way and the coach's son, Spencer Treadwell (215 yards) is right behind him on the depth chart in the least productive rushing offense in the MAC.
Miami's defense has slightly improved in recent weeks. The defense allowed over 500 yards of total offense four times this season, but it held Buffalo and CMU under 400 in two of its past three outings.
Chris Wade is the team's anchor and the MAC's third leading tackler with 114 stops on the season. Brison Burris paced the unit last week with 14 tackles.
Although Ball State is riding a tremendous wave of momentum and Edwards will most likely be able to bully his way to another 100-yard performance, the RedHawks are going to be a problem for the Wenning-less Cardinals. Miami's failure to make it to a bowl game transforms this regular-season finale into Dysert's swan song. It is hard to picture the quarterback going down without a spirited fight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Ohio 38, Ball State 35
11/21 10:50:17 ET