Ball State has not suffered a conference loss in over one year. During that time, the Cardinals have defeated a nationally ranked Toledo Rockets team and defeated both Central Michigan and Western Michigan two times. Obviously, Ball State is a well coached team under Pete Lembo. The Cardinals also are a talented and disciplined group. They win by scoring more points than their opponents. What really makes the Cardinals a power in the MAC requires further explanation.
Ball State invariably has held an edge in either total offensive yards or passing yards in each MAC contest during the recent in-conference winning streak . The Cardinals have been successful at predicting defensive weakness and defensive tendencies of their MAC opponents and then devising game plans to exploit them.
It would be logical that a passing oriented team with Keith Wenning at the helm would consistently have a large edge in passing yardage over its vanquished MAC opponents. However, Ball State has contrarian tendencies when it comes to employing winning offensive strategies. For example, Ball State gained 233 yards rushing when it eclipsed Central Michigan in yards rushing 233 to 107 and total offensive yards with 464 to 446 en route to a victory on October 20, 2012.
Against Toledo on November 6, 2012, the Cardinals were outgained by the Rockets 526 yards to 446, but held the edge in passing yards, 280 to 215. This enabled the Cardinals to overcome three interceptions en route to a 34-27 victory. Clearly, the tactic wasn't pretty, but it was effective.
A look at Ball State's 31-24 over the Toledo Rockets on September 28, 2013 shows that the Cardinals employed a balanced offensive strategy to gain a narrow statistical edge in both rushing and passing yardage. Again, a contrarian strategy helped the Cardinals gain a narrow victory over a tough MAC foe.
What's up next for the Cardinals on Wednesday night against Northern Illinois? Chances are it will be a strategy that the Huskies' coaching staff is not anticipating.