By: Charlie Desadier
Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State Cardinals are coming off of a thrilling win last Tuesday on the road and now head to Dekalb, Illinois where they will face Northern Illinois for the Bronze Stalk Trophy.
The Cardinals enter week 11 second in the MAC West standings at 5-4 (3-2 MAC) while NIU is at the number one spot at 6-3 (4-1 MAC).
The Cardinals faced the Akron Zips last week after losing to Miami in their homecoming showcase. The Cardinals defeated the Zips on their home turf 31-25.
Ball State saw big players from Carson Steele and senior safety Bryce Cosby who currently runs the MAC with the most solo tackles for the season so far (50). Cosby led the Cardinals in tackles (11) with eight solo.
The fifth-year safety gave his praises to defensive coordinator Tyler Stockton for preparing the Cardinals defense for different situations that arose in the red zone:
“It’s a big emphasis for us, we know how important it is and they get down there, and we’re going to do everything in our power to stop them from getting in the end zone,” Cosby said. “It’s really just a mentality and attitude that you got to have about yourself. When you get in that area you don’t want to let them in and so on. whatever’s necessary to keep them out, we’re going to try to do it as a defense.”
Steele made a big impact on Tuesday’s game with career-highs in attempts (27) and rushing yards (160) while averaging 5.7 yards per attempt.
“Always as a running back, you love to break those long runs and long touchdown runs,” Steele said. “But especially when it gets cold like this, people start to stiffen up a little bit and it gets real tough. (I) just keep driving my legs, that’s one of my big things to keep trying to get as many yards as I can, keep getting first downs.”
This Cardinals offense and defense seems to be in sync coming into week eleven, to keep the momentum our boys in red and white must know their opponent:
Northern Illinois might have taken a loss against Kent State, but they posted season highs when it comes to yardage racking up 663 yards and 47 points.
Quarterback Rocky Lombard and wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph set NIU records. Lombardi with 532 passing yards throwing 33-57 with three touchdowns under his belt. So far Lombardi has completed 57.8% of passes with 1,853 yards and 12 touchdowns. Rudolph scored a 75-yard touchdown for the second week straight with 309 receiving yards.
NIU currently has five players possessing over 200 rushing yards going into week eleven
. Running back Jeyvon Ducker with 579, Harrison Waylee with 574, Clint Ratkovich 240 yards and seven touchdowns, and Antario Brown with 205 yards in the season.
The Cardinals defense must be prepared for Lombardi to rely on Rudolph who has 32 receptions in the season already and Tyrie Richie who holds 44 catches going into week eleven.
The Huskies offense is currently ranked ninth in the country in time of possession per contest (33:44)
With NIU’s offense being their strong suit, the Cardinal’s offense shouldn’t have much of a problem moving the ball and scoring.
The Huskies secondary has allowed 300 passing yards in weeks seven and eight, allowing 11 sacks and one interception so far this season. This defense has struggled with stopping opposing offenses giving up 7.04 yards per play against CMU and 9.1 in last week’s contest.
Norther Illinois has given up the third most yards (448.7) and points (33.8) per game amongst all MAC schools.
Ball State and Northern Illinois will kickoff at 7 p.m. EST this Wednesday on ESPN 2.