Western Michigan vs. Ball State prediction and game preview. The Broncos try to remain undefeated when they visit the Cardinals in a MAC battle.
Western Michigan vs. Ball State Game Preview
When: Tuesday, Nov. 1 – 8 p.m. ET
Where: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, Mich.
TV Broadcast: ESPN2
Boise State’s loss to Wyoming on Saturday gave Western Michigan the inside track to earn the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game. Now it’s up to P.J. Fleck’s team to hold up its end of the bargain. This is the first of back-to-back Tuesday games for No. 16 Western Michigan, which moved to 8-0 with a 45-31 win over Eastern Michigan on Oct. 22.
Ball State, which also plays the next two Tuesdays, will try to ruin the Broncos’ perfect season. The Cardinals are just 1-3 in MAC play, but James Gilbert is the conference’s leading rusher and has put together four consecutive 100-yard performances. He’ll get a tough test against the MAC’s second-best rush defense in this one.
What To Know About Western Michigan
Jarvion Franklin is second behind Gilbert in the conference in rushing yards per game and finished with 114 in the win over Eastern Michigan. Like Gilbert, he also has four consecutive 100-yard games and has provided a spark for a Broncos offense that is averaging 6.75 yards per play, second in the MAC behind Toledo.
Zach Terrell was the star against the Eagles, though, completing 29 of 35 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also a major reason why Western Michigan now is the Group of Five’s highest-ranked team and is in line for a major bowl bid. Keep it that way could depend on if it can slow Gilbert. The Broncos are allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game in the MAC, but they allowed three touchdowns on the ground against EMU.
What To Know About Ball State
Gilbert’s 11 rushing touchdowns lead the conference and are tied for tenth in the nation, and he’s also carrying it more than anyone in the MAC with nearly 23 attempts per game. His efforts haven’t been enough most weeks, though. The Cardinals blew a 10-point halftime lead and fell 35-25 to Akron last Saturday despite Gilberts’ 133 yards.
Quarterback Riley Neal also played well, but it’s been the defense that has hurt Ball State. It allowed 529 yards against the Zips and ranks ninth in the conference allowing 440.3 per game. Most of those come through the air, as the Cardinals rank 11th in the 12-team MAC in passing yards allowed per contest.
Offense: Western Michigan – Terrell and Corey Davis should hook up plenty against this Cardinals pass D.
Defense: Western Michigan – Keion Adams is one of the most underrated defensive players in the nation.
Special Teams: Western Michigan – Darius Phillips is one of the more dangerous returners in the conference.
Coaching: Western Michigan – Fleck’s turnaround in Kalamazoo will have bigger programs knocking on his door soon.
Intangibles: Western Michigan – Terrell threw three touchdown passes to Davis in last year’s 54-7 win over Ball State.
Matchup To Watch
Terrell vs. Ball State’s pass defense
Gilbert against Western Michigan’s run defense also will be one to watch, but if Terrell is able to get into a groove early, this one could get out of hand. Davis gets most of the attention among Broncos receivers, but Carrington Thompson has been a threat as well.
Spread: Western Michigan -18.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Western Michigan vs. Ball State Prediction
Terrell throws four touchdown passes and Western Michigan holds Gilbert to 70 yards rushing in the Broncos’ easy victory in primetime.
Western Michigan vs. Ball State final score prediction: Western Michigan 48, Ball State 20