It's not often that Week 5 features a battle between two Mid-American Conference heavyweights, but that's exactly what we're getting Saturday at 3 p.m. when the Toledo Rockets (2-2) and Ball State Cardinals (3-1) face off in Muncie, Indiana for an early fight for MAC West supremacy.
This series is one of the closest, and in recent years one of the best, in the conference with Toledo holding a 19-18-1 advantage. The Cardinals snapped the Rockets' three game winning streak in the series last season, with a thrilling 34-27 win over then No. 23 (AP, No. 25 BCS) Toledo. The game went down to the wire with BSU running back Jahwan Edwards scoring the game-winning touchdown with 1:43 left in the game. Ball State is attempting to even the series this weekend, at home, in a game that should provide plenty of fireworks.
Toledo (2-2, 1-0) is coming off of a 38-17 win over the Central Michigan Chippewas that saw star running back David Fluellen rush for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Terrance Owens, recovering from a sprained knee sustained the week before, returned to action, coming off the bench and giving his best performance of the season. Owens was 13-of-17 passes for 139 yards and really helped ignite the Rocket offense after coming onto the field in the second quarter.
BSU enters this weekend with a 3-1 (1-0) overall record after crushing the Eastern Michigan Eagles 51-20 last week. Senior quarterback, Keith Wenning completed 17-of-28 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, and running back Edwards returned from injury to rush for three touchdowns.
Neither team's defense is its strong suit, with Toledo allowing nearly 390 yards and 25 points a game, and Ball State giving up 429 yards and 24 points a game. But with both team's offenses averaging 385 and 475 yards respectively, a shortage of weapons will not be a problem.
Ball State is arguably the most complete offense in the conference, led by Wenning, who is currently second in the nation with 1,315 yards and has nine touchdown passes. Aside from Wenning, Cardinal wide receiver, Willie Snead is as dominate a wide receiver as you'll find in the MAC, if not the entire country. Edwards provides the offense with balance, and explosiveness from the backfield.
For the Rockets, Owens should be ready to start, judging by how well he played last week coming off of the bench. However, with the way Fluellen has been carrying the ball Owens and the passing game may take a backseat role to the Toledo running game. Fluellen ranks first in the MAC, and fourth in the nation, with 497 yards rushing. Then of course there are receivers Bernard Ready and Alonzo Russell that keep defenses honest.
Expect MACtion, and lots of it as both teams will have little problem putting up points. This will be a shootout, likely coming down to the last drive of the game. Kickoff is set for 3 pm on Saturday. The game can be watched on ESPN GamePlan and streamed live on ESPN3. WATCH IT!