BY JARIN MATHENY | Ball State Sports Link
Need To Know:
- Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET in Oxford, Ohio (Yager Stadium)
- Clear skies, temperature near 50º with winds out of the south at 5-10 mph.
- Sports Link GameDay LIVE at 6 p.m.
- TV: CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m.
- Radio stream: mixlr.com/bsusportslink (Nathan Ganger and Donnie Harmon).
- #DOB – Detroit or Bust | @bsusportslink on Twitter
341 days. All the struggles. All the craziness. Now, it’s time to focus — gameday is here.
“Win the wait” has been the mantra for this Ball State football team during the course of the most unstable year in our nation’s recent history.
Finally, the wait is over as the Cardinals walk into Yager Stadium in Oxford tonight with a chance to take down the reigning Mid-American Conference Champions.
“Losing is always going to either bring you closer together or pull you apart,” now-senior receiver Justin Hall said. “We definitely went through our ups and downs, but I feel like the guys that are still here and have really grinded it out, we have a chip on our shoulder. We have something to prove this season, and however many games they give us, we’re just going to take advantage of it.”
Experience is certainly the key when it comes to Ball State on the offensive end, coming in following a first place 34.8 points per game.
The combo of Drew Plitt and Caleb Huntley in the backfield mixed with the seniors Anthony Todd, Kaleb Slaven, and Curtis Blackwell upfront should keep the running game strong as Kevin Lynch moves to offensive coordinator.
“We’re excited to be back out on the field,” Plitt said. “I think everybody is kind of chomping at the bit to get out and play a game.”
Ball State rushed for more than 200 yards in seven of its eight conference matchups in 2019.
After snapping a three-game losing skid to Miami last year with 261 rushing yards, look for Huntley and this offensive line to make a mark early and often in this game.
On the defensive side, outside of the big names we’ve seen for the past three seasons, the Cardinals have added depth with transfers.
Former Sacred Heart Pioneer Chris Agyemang bolsters the defensive line, and Anthony Ekpe will help relieve Christian Albright and Jordan Williams at linebacker.
With an already talented secondary loaded with returners, if the front seven can eliminate the Redhawks run game, the Cardinals offense could lead them to back-to-back Redbird Rivalry wins.
Miami leads the all-time series history with Ball State 19-13-1. The Redhawks own an 11-6-1 record at home against the Cardinals, but the teams have split the last 10 meetings.
The Key For Miami?
Ride with your defensive talent.
Miami’s defense was something else last year, especially in the pass game. If you take out the game against No. 3 Ohio State, the Redhawks only allowed 24.4 points per game. Even with the Buckeyes on the 2019 resumé for Miami, its pass defense ranked 40th in the country and No. 1 in the MAC.
The Key For Ball State?
Finsh the game.
Ball State went 5-7 last season, but the Cardinals could have easily been 8-4 had it been able to hang on to late leads. Ball State lost three games last season in conference play by a combined eight points.
With the wealth of talent and returners this team has, they should be able to pull through in these moments in 2020.
Full coverage of Ball State Football from Ball State Sports Link will be available with Sports Link Gameday, streaming live at 6 p.m. You can also listen to the game on SL Digital Radio at mixlr.com/bsusportslink.