By The Numbers:
This is a huge game for both teams and will most likely determine who wins the MAC West. In fact, the Ball State Cardinals (9-1, 6-0 MAC) will clinch the MAC West for the first time since 2008 with a win over the Huskies. The Cardinals only loss this season came at the hands of North Texas, way back on September 14. The Mean Green, down 27-9 late in the third, scored the last 25 points of the game to win 34-27. Since then, all Ball State has done is won eight strait, scoring an average of 31 points per game, and torn apart the MAC. Quarterback Keith Wenning, leads the attack for Ball State, averaging 323 passing yards per contest - good enough for 16th best in the FBS. Three recievers have over 500 yards for the Cardinals, with Willie Snead leading the way. Along with their potent passing game, the Cardinals add two backs that each average over 5 yards per carry; Jahwan Edwards and Horatio Banks. Each also have 600 yards and have combined for 19 scores. The Cardinals are ranked 15th in the NCAA in scoring as they put up 40 points per game on opposing defenses. Speaking of defense, Ball State's defensive unit also ranks fifth in the NCAA with 26 forced turnovers.
The #15 Northern Illinois Huskies enter the game a perfect 9-0 (5-0 MAC), and have won 24 straight home games and 22 consecutive conference games - both the longest streaks in the FBS. As good as both offense are, they are both very different. Unlike the passing attack of Ball State, the Huskies come at you with the fourth best rushing attack in the country, gaining over 312 yards per game on the ground. But if you focus only on their ground game, Heisman hopeful quarterback Jordan Lynch will beat you with his arm as well. Power back Cameron Stingily has added nearly 800 rushing yards as well. At wideout, Tommylee Lewis and Da'Ron Brown have combined for over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Huskies who average 44.2 points per game - 8th in the FBS. The Huskie defense is just below Ball State with 21 forced turnovers and also add 3 sacks per game.
Four Names to Know:
This game is all about offense! For Ball State: Keith Wenning and Willie Snead. That's all you need to know, and it's all you'll hear about when the Cardinals have the ball.
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning is completing 62.9% of his passing attempts, has an incredible QB rating of 155.6, and has a ridiculous TD to INT ratio. So far this season he has thrown 27 touchdowns to just 5 picks. He has also gained a career high 3164 yards...so far. The porous NIU secondary will need to have a great game if they want to slow down BSU. Wenning will move the ball, probably at will, against the Huskies.
Receiver Willie Snead has been the go to guy for the Cardinals - snagging 31.6% of Wenning's passes (74 of the 234 completions). In addition, he has 12 receiving TDs and 1175 yards. Snead averages 15.9 yards per catch, with a long of 55-yards (against Toledo). The scary thing...he is only a junior! This season the most catches he's had in a game has been 10...don't be surprised to see that eclipsed this week.
The Huskies counter with Jordan Lynch. The MAC's only Heisman hopeful last year (when he finished 7th in the voting) and this year. Lynch is a do-it-all quarterback, who runs like a linebacker. Stats wise, he is very comparable to Wenning. Lynch has 1871 passing yards, a ranking of 144.9 and has thrown 19 TDs to just 5 picks. He has also added 1150 rushing yards and 12 more score on the ground. Wenning's total yards/TDs: 3200/31. Lynch's total yards/TDs: 3021/31.
There is one player on the Huskies that could make a huge defensive impact. Safety Jimmie Ward is 7th in the country with five interceptions so far this year. He leads NIU with 59 tackles, has added a sack, four pass break-ups, and even has a defensive touchdown. If the Huskies are to slow down Wenning's passing attack - Ward is the man to do it.
How to Watch:
TV: ESPN2 or ESPN3 (online), 8 P.M. ET (7 Central)
Can't Watch? Listen Live:
Ball State fans: 91.3 WCRD (Muncie, IN)
NIU fans: The Score 670 AM (Chicgao) or 98.9 FM (DeKalb)