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Ball State Cardinals vs. Western Michigan Broncos: Five Things Learned

The Broncos lit up the scoreboard against Ball State, but what does that mean?

Western Michigan v Ball State Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Western Michigan Broncos just blew out the Ball State Cardinals for the third year in a row. This year was a 55-3 home win for the Broncos. Everything seemed to fall directly in their lap all game long, including the fumble on the opening kickoff. However, a lot more than luck went into this game.

Jon Wassink is hitting his stride.

Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink had all day to throw in the pocket. Not only did the Cardinals fail to sack him, there was never any pressure or hurried throws.

Wassink showed that he can deliver precision throws downfield as well as the short passes we have already seen. Sure, some of the passes were off-target. It happens. But any time you can put up 245 yards and three touchdowns, something is going right at quarterback.

Even better, Wassink has found a favorite receiver in Keishawn Watson, who caught five passes for two touchdowns and 93 yards. Having such a potent quarterback opens up the play-calling options for Tim Lester.

The recent surge in passing yards means that the MAC cannot solely focus on Western Michigan’s running backs. That makes the Broncos very lethal.

Injuries doomed Ball State before the game even began.

Riley Neal and his Cardinals looked good. Unfortunately, Riley Neal and four other members of the offense sat out due to injuries.

Receivers Jordan Hague and Corey Lacanaria sat out along with running back James Gilbert and lineman Vinnie Palazeti. Missing almost half of your offense proved to be fatal for the Cardinals, who averaged only 3.2 yards per play.

Back-up quarterback Jack Milas struggled to get much passing going missing two receivers. On his own, Milas is quite good, but that did not show against the Broncos. For the Cardinals to succeed this season, they need to heal quickly and improve their back-ups.

Road wins are awful hard to come by at Waldo Stadium.

One does not simply walk out of Kalamazoo with a road win.

In fact, the last teams to beat the Broncos at home were the 2015 MAC East Champion Bowling Green Falcons and then-#5 Michigan State Spartans. That same Michigan State team played in the College Football Playoff that year. Since 2015 began, Western Michigan has defended their home turf with a record of 13-2.

When you factor in the increased attendance creating even more crowd noise, Waldo Stadium is a very intimidating place to play. With three more upcoming home games, Western Michigan will be looking to keep their nine-game home win streak alive.

Mike Neu’s Cardinals have a long road ahead of them.

Entering the MAC portion of their schedule with a huge loss is never something the Cardinals planned on. Neither was losing a good portion of their offense.

With a relentless series of MAC games coming up as well, Mike Neu has a massive task ahead of him to get Ball State back on track. First, he has to train his back-ups to be ready to go when it is their time to shine. He has to let his starters rest whenever possible to avoid further injury. Hopefully, their currently injured players are able to make a speedy recovery and return to the field as well.

Coming up this week against the Akron Zips, Neu has to put this loss in the back of his mind. This is a new week. I am certain that Ball State can move on just fine past this disappointing road loss and improve their season. For now, the Cardinals have to play week-by-week. Each opponent is beatable, and each opponent could dominate them.

Western Michigan is officially the team to beat in the MAC West again.

Nobody in the MAC West has a conference win except the Broncos.

That means, once again, the Broncos are in the sole lead of the division and control their destiny in the MAC. The Toledo Rockets and Northern Illinois Huskies are each a game behind after taking their bye weeks early. Each are also perennial competition in the MAC West race.

For now, the Broncos are taking their 11-game MAC win streak into MAC East territory for the next two weeks against the Buffalo Bulls and Akron Zips.