Battle In Happy Valley: Keys and Trends

By Nick Lawler 

Ball State Sports Link

When Ball State clinched its season opener against Western Illinois, it marked their 12th-straight win to start the season. Additionally, the Cardinals are riding an eight-game winning streak, the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS. 

While coming off of a disappointing 4-5 season, the Nittany Lions look brand new. Starting their season off with an upset victory over 12th-ranked Wisconsin, Penn State looks primed to compete in the Big 10 once again. 

Penn State wants to run the football, and Ball State should let them. Against the Badgers, Noah Cain and company were only able to rack up 50 yards on their 18 carries. 

The Cardinals showed they can be aggressive against the run last season, and they are looking to keep that trend going. If Ball State can force Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford to rely on his arm, they could force some turnovers on Saturday. 

On offense, the Cardinals will be tested against the dominant Penn State defense. Against the Badgers, Penn State forced two interceptions and allowed only three yards per rush. 

Meanwhile, Drew Plitt and company had an efficient day in their opener. If Justin Hall can continue to dominate down the field, Plitt should keep feeding him the deep balls. 

However, Saturday will be a good game to get creative with the rest of the receiving core. With the addition of transfer Jayshon Jackson, Ball State has one of their deepest units ever.  

Against a top-tier team like Penn State, it would be a great time to get everyone involved for some big plays. 

Speaking of Hall, a 182-yard performance against the Nittany Lions would make him the leading receiver in Ball State history.  

Not to mention, a career day like that could aid in the biggest upset in Cardinals’ history.  

Ball State has one of the most veteran offenses in the country this year. By utilizing this experience, the Cardinals are surely capable of pulling this one off. 

Author: Nick Lawler