By: Dane Massey
Ball State Sports Link
Following a huge road win in Akron, Ball State is up for a big task this week as they look to battle for the Bronze Stalk Trophy, as well as look to grab hold of the MAC West against the current frontrunner, Northern Illinois. Ball State is currently one game back of the MAC West behind the Huskies, and a win for the Cardinals would put them back on top of the West division.
The Huskies have been a solid overall team this season as they currently sit at an overall record of 6-3 and 4-1 in conference play. With a win over a power five conference team in Georgia Tech to start the year, Northern Illinois went on a five-game winning streak starting in late September with a hot 4-0 start in conference play.
Despite this, seven of the nine games the Huskies played were decided by seven points or less, with all five of its conference games being decided by that deficit as well. The Bronze Stalk Trophy Rivalry has been around since the 1940s, however the series has not gone in Ball States favor with the Huskies leading the all-time series 24-22, with having a 16-5 record over Ball State since 2000. On the bright side however, Ball State has won the last two meetings between them and look to continue their journey to Detroit.
As Ball State looks forward to another battle against a division rival at Northern Illinois, here are a few players to keep an eye on for the matchup:
Following an incredible three-touchdown game against Akron, Drew Plitt will look to lead the offense to a win over a competitive defense. Plitt will try and keep up with Northern Illinois junior quarterback Rocky Lombardi who is powering the passing game for the Huskies. Plitt had a highlight reel night against Akron throwing for 185 yards and three scores but is now focused on the task at hand in coming up big in this rivalry game.
“You got to go into each week like it’s the championship,” Plitt said. “We’ve always talked about championship mentality and for us its championship game number five, and that’s how we take each week. Each game is a championship game, and you can’t lose. It’s win or go home.”
Plitt has got plenty of weapons to spread the ball around to, from the likes of Justin Hall, Jayson Jackson, and Yo’Heinz Tyler, expect Plitt to be read to go against a very solid Northern Illinois defense who has allowed over 300 yards passing the last two games.
JUSTIN RAMSEY AND BRYCE COSBY:
Coming off a huge day against Akron, the defensive side of the ball truly has a tough test in front of them. Led by Rocky Lombardi, the Huskies’ offense is a serious threat and has shown to put points on the board when it matters. However, Ball State will look to shut down the Huskies as Bryce Cosby will look to have another great day as he did against Akron. Leading the stats on the defense, Cosby racked up 11 total tackles along with one tackle for a loss in which was crucial.
Meanwhile junior defensive lineman Justin Ramsey also had a field day, getting 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss making the Akron offensive line adjust to Ramsey causing problems for them. A breakout year for the junior out of Merrillville, Indiana who has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with on that defensive line, racking up 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks on the year.
Expect nothing less for these two as the Ball State defense gets set to take on arguably their toughest test in conference play this season.