By: Charlie Desadier
Ball State Sports Link
It’s the most wonderful time of the year– Homecoming! The Cardinals will host Miami University (OH) this Saturday in the highly-anticipated Red Bird Rivalry game.
The Cardinals enter week eight on a three-game winning streak after handing out wins to Army, Western Michigan, and Eastern Michigan in week seven.
The last time these two teams met was in game one last year where the RedHawks beat the Cardinals by a touchdown, 38-31, giving Ball State its only loss for the season. Ball State is hopeful to bring the Red Bird Trophy back to Muncie while also taking another step towards a conference championship.
This year will be Ball State’s 95th Homecoming. Not only are spirits high among Cardinals fans, but Mike Neu and his team are optimistic about Saturday’s game and ready for the challenge:
“Obviously, this is a big week,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said. “We’re excited to be coming back home and playing against Miami. This is a rivalry game, so there’s a lot at stake, including it being Homecoming. Coming back home after two really exciting wins on the road in MAC play, the guys are fired up.”
This Cardinals team is under some pressure considering that the RedHawks have won four of the last Red Bird Rivalry games. The last time BSU faced off against Miami for Homecoming dates back to 2003 where the Redhawks defeated the Cardinals 49-3.
It seems as though Ball State has found its footing once again after a rough 1-3 start to the season advancing to .500, it’s no doubt that the Cardinals are more than ready and prepared to stand up to the challenge to keep the Red Bird Rivalry at the Sheu.
In order to do that the Cardinals must know their opponent…
Ball State and Miami are set to square off for the 45th time in series history tomorrow. With QB1, Brett Gabbert dealing with an injury, A.J Mayer will be filling his shoes for Saturday afternoon’s game.
Mayer has been efficient in passing serving up three touchdowns against Akron last week with 229 yards in the 34-21 win. The sophomore has proven that he has what it takes to step in and get the job done filling in for Gabbert in the season opener against the Cardinals last year after an ugly targeting call took the QB1 out of the game.
Mayer also gave Ball State three touchdowns in the home-opener last year leading to the 38-31 win.
Jack Sorenson has lived up to Receiving expectations going on a streak of 100-yard performances this season. Sorenson is the sixth leading receiver in the history of this program.
Along with Sorenson, Penn State transfer, Mac Hippenhammer currently has 24 catches and 440 yards in his second season with Miami.
The Cardinals defense can expect to see Miami’s offense utilizing Hippenhammer and Sorenson as their two primary weapons, but it will be smart for them to be aware of Miami’s use of their tight ends.
Tight ends Jack Coldiron stands fourth on the roster in receiving yards (160) while TE Andrew Homer has had three touchdowns just this month alone.
Miami is currently tied second in the MAC averaging 2.7 sacks per matchup.
With a defensive line consisting of Lonnie Phelps, Kameron Butler, and Ben Kimpler the trio has combined for 11.5 sacks this season. Phelps and Butler have been a dangerous duo combining for 14.5 tackles for loss.
The last time these two teams met Miami left the Sheu with six sacks against Ball State.
We can expect the RedHawks to rely heavily on their front seven with the goal in mind to apply pressure and create the same storybook ending from 2020’s matchup.
Miami’s defense has struggled a bit this season when it comes to forcing turnovers only have collected five so far in the last seven games.