Central Michigan vs. Ball State prediction and game preview. Projecting who will win the MAC battle between the Chippewas and Cardinals.
Central Michigan vs. Ball State Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Mich.
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
Central Michigan’s 3-0 start came with one of this season’s most thrilling and controversial endings of the season, when it’s shouldn’t-have-been-allowed Hail Mary gave it a victory at Oklahoma State. But since beating UNLV on Sept. 17, the Chippewas have lost to previously winless Virginia by 14 before getting crushed by Western Michigan, 49-10, last week.
Ball State knows all about losing to winless teams after falling to Northern Illinois, 31-24, last week. The Cardinals allowed their most points of the season while flopping in their first MAC game and are a heavy underdog as they look to avoid dropping to 0-2 in conference play.
What to Know About Central Michigan
The Chippewas averaged 39.5 points through their first four games, but the MAC-best Western Michigan defense forced them to turn the ball over twice and held them to 277 total yards. That’s a far cry from the 476 they averaged previously. Cooper Rush was sacked eight times, and CMU will have to protect better against a Ball State team that ranks second in the MAC with 18.
It hasn’t been much better defensively late as the Chippewas, who have allowed 993 yards during their back-to-back losses with opponents averaging 6.0 yards per rush.
What to Know About Ball State
Central Michigan’s offense is going to be facing as tough of a test this week. Ball State gave up 653 yards to Northern Illinois last week, including 355 on the ground. The most shocking aspect of the latter number is that the Cardinals held their first four opponents to an average of 97 yards rushing with Eastern Kentucky finishing with just three.
Protection for Riley Neal needs to be better after NIU sacked him five times, matching the total through four games. One of the lone bright spots last week was James Gilbert, who rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns. His 22 carries were his most since the season opener, and there’s a good chance he’ll be utilized more with Central’s run defense struggling.
Offense: Central Michigan – Rush should bounce back this week.
Defense: Central Michigan – Both teams have struggled on this side of the ball lately, but Central has faced better competition.
Special Teams: Ball State – Chippewas kicker Brian Eavey has missed four of his six field-goal attempts.
Coaching: Central Michigan – John Bonamego, a former CMU wide receiver, has returned after a long NFL career as an assistant and has the Chippewas playing well.
Intangibles: Central Michigan – Rush’s 316 yards and two touchdowns helped CMU beat Ball State, 23-21, last season, snapping a five-game losing streak in the series.
Matchup To Watch
Offensive lines vs. Defensive lines
Both teams had trouble keeping their quarterbacks off the ground last week, hindering offensive production. This game could be decided by which team keeps its signal-caller’s uniform cleanest.
Spread: Central Michigan -12.5
Central Michigan vs. Ball State Prediction
Rush has a solid game against Ball State for a second straight season, Central shuts down the Cardinals’ offense and rounds into form defensively as the Chippewas move to 4-2.
Central Michigan vs. Ball State final score prediction: Central Michigan 31, Ball State 14