Friday, October 24, 2008

Cardinal Preview: Eastern Michigan


Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan
Location: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN
Game Time: 12:00pm
Television: Available via BSU Sports All Access

This weekend's game sees the Cardinals return home to the nest to take on Eastern Michigan. A quick glance at the record, BSU at 7-0 and EMU at 2-6, says this one will be a walk. A statistical analysis shows more of the same, as BSU trumps EMU in nearly every major statistical category. The Cardinals are well-rested, coming off their first bye week of the season, and Dante Love is back on campus and was reportedly at practice on Thursday. It's also Parents Weekend in Muncie, so expect a nice sized little crowd at the Scheu.

The Basics:
Ball State University Cardinals
Location: Muncie, IN
Record: 7-0 (3-0 MAC)
Last Week: Idle

Eastern Michigan Eagles
Location: Ypsilanti, MI
Record: 2-6 (1-3 MAC)
Last Week: L Akron 42-35

Offense: For Eastern Michigan, their offense is respectable but not impressive. They currently rank 5th in the conference in total offense, averaging just a smidge over 382 yards per game. Their bread and butter has been the rush, as they average 176 per game on the ground, and have two tailbacks (Terrence Blevins and Dwayne Priest) in the top 11 in rushing yards conference-wide. The passing attack ranks 9th in the MAC, and is paced by QB Andy Schmitt who tosses for 151 per game on average. Schmitt is capable of running the ball, but is only average. And that's really all this team is... is average. Nothing exceptional, but nothing exceptionally bad. They're 9th in the conference in points scored, clocking in at just under 22 points per game.

For Ball State, it's been an offensive explosion on the season, though the slow starts in recent games have some fans concerned. BSU ranks 2nd in rushing and 3rd in passing, but leads the conference not only in total offense but also scoring. They execute well, as evidenced by the fact that they lead the MAC in fewest penalty yards. Pacing the attack is Nate Davis at QB, MiQuale Lewis at RB, and the space eaters up front on the offensive line. Ball State protects the ball, and is second in the conference with a +6 turnover margin.
Advantage: MiQuale Lewis by himself averages more yards on the ground per game than the dynamic duo of EMU tailbacks. Throw Nate Davis in the mix and it's a large margin.

Defense: What will make EMU fans happy is that they lead the conference in pass defense, at around 150 yards surrendered per game. The bad news is those stats may be a bit skew, as they have yet to play Central Michigan, Western Michigan, or obviously Ball State. This defensive unit for the Eagles has the potential to be shredded through the air. Teams just don't take advantage of it. Why? Because the Eagles are the worst team in the league at defending against the run. They give up a staggering 223 yards per game on the ground. They've given up 200+ yards to a single player in each of their last two games.

For the Cardinals, the defense took a lot of heat early on this season. When compared to such a high powered offense, it's only natural. I had serious reservations earlier this year about the ability of this defense to allow the offense to have an off game or two. Surprisingly enough, this defense is not half bad. They are 3rd in the conference in total yards allowed, and though not exceptional at any one area, they are solid across the board. They force turnovers, plug holes along the offensive line, and each game has gotten better and better. They've allowed 7 points total the last two weeks combined, and that 7 came with under a minute to go in a large win.
Advantage: MiQuale Lewis is going to go hog wild on this defense. It wouldn't shock me at all to see both Lewis and Sykes top the century mark.

Coaching: Jeff Genyk is 13-33 in 4 seasons at the helm of the failboat that is EMU football. Genyk is poised to turn the Eagles around, but "turn around" is a very relative term. He did defeat CMU and WMU last season, and his team is beginning to get talent to sign on the dotted line. But Hoke has guided the Cards to an undefeated season despite the loss of Dante Love, is being mentioned for nearly every low tier BCS vacancy, and has put together a great couple years in Muncie.

Eastern Michigan Eagles:

Swoop the Eagle. Controversy surrounded this bird, as fans of the program didn't want the change made from the Eastern Michigan Hurons. Apparently, the Indian lobby is a lot stronger than the shittily made mascot costume lobby.

Ball State Cardinals:

Charlie Cardinal. Raise your hand if you don't suck.

Overall: EMU is in the infancy stages of becoming a respectable football program again. They would do well to take a look at what Hoke did since his arrival at BSU. Is Ball State beatable? Sure. EMU proved they've got no problem beating the conference big boys last year. But the bottom line is the talent is too different, the stakes too high, and this BSU team too good to consider picking against them.

Ball State 41
Eastern Michigan 14

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