BY NICK LAWLER| Ball State Sports Link
After last week’s thrilling come-from-behind win against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, the Cardinals will look to continue that momentum into Wednesday’s matchup with Northern Illinois.
The bad news? The Cardinal offense took a while to get heated up in last week’s contest, as early turnovers and costly penalties made it difficult to move the ball consistently.
The good news? Northern Illinois has four true freshmen starting on defense. While certainly not short on talent, the youth factor is something the Cardinals will look to exploit. If the Ball State offense can get clicking on all cylinders early — watch out.
When Ball State was down late in the third quarter last week, the offense emerged and outscored the Eagles 25-7 over the last 20 minutes of the game. This is a very potent BSU offensive squad, and they have the athletes to compete with any team.
While running back Caleb Huntley will certainly do Caleb Huntley things, watch for the passing game to thrive against Northern Illinois and its freshman duo of defensive ends and safeties.
If the line can hold up against the very young Husky pass rush spearheaded by Pierce Oppong and Raishein Thomas, Plitt will be able to pick apart an equally inexperienced defensive backfield with Justin Hall and company.
Make no mistake, Northern Illinois will surely draw up some creative ways to shake up the offense. In fact, among MAC teams, Northern Illinois has been stout against the pass, allowing just over 185 passing yards per game, good for third best in the conference.
Part of that is due to these freshmen, particularly safety Jordan Hansen, who is third on the team in tackles and has an interception to his name as well.
However, with the experience and athleticism that Ball State brings to the table on offense, they could double that number on Wednesday.