I am still reeling from last season, and I am not a fan or associate of the Ball State Cardinals football team. They were absolutely devastated by injuries last season, and that is good news for THIS season. A lot of players got experience, and a lot of the top players return. Quarterback Riley Neal is a special player, as is running back James Gilbert. The receiving group looks to be deep and the line has potential. I fully expect the offense to be impressive. As for the defense, they have one, that’s about all I can say about that.
Last season I predicted the Cardinals to be a sleeper in the west, and I really don’t feel bad about that, especially how they looked prior to the injury plague. I am not going to go that far this season, but they should certainly be improved.
I am going to go ahead and come up with a probable win total, to see if they are a bowl team.
Aug. 30th, Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
A long name for a FCS team. This particular team made the playoffs last season, so should be a solid test for coach Mike Neu to see where his team stands. I think they’ll be fine.
Ball State 41, CCSBDs 21.
Sept. 8th, @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Aside from Notre Dame being a good football team, this will be a particularly bad match-up for the Cardinals. The Irish could have a legit national title type defense, and their offense has enough ponies that it can score on the likes of Cardinals defense. Even the same state rivalry aspect is quashed, as ND gets a lot of their players from elsewhere.
ND 55, Ball State 21.
Sept. 15th @ Indiana Hoosiers
This backyard brawl could be exactly that. The Indiana offense should be good and explosive, racking up points against the Ball State defense. However, the Hoosiers lost a lot on defense, and early on could be the time to attack it. This could be one of the most exciting non-conference games in the MAC, as there will be a lot of points and any win against a Big Ten team is huge for the regional footprint. I am going to go ahead and take a shot here,
Ball State 55, Indiana 51.
Sept. 22nd, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
This could also be a great game to watch, as Western Kentucky could struggle on offense, which means they will probably still score against Ball State, just not as many as some opponents. The Hilltoppers defense strategy plays right into the what the Cardinals try to do, so I expect the Cardinals to score, though it will take them time. This one wont be a shootout, but will be close, with BSU getting the nod because of the home field advantage.
BSU 31, WKU 28.
Sept. 29th, Kent State Golden Flashes
At this point in the season, I have Ball State going 3-1, but they could easily be a good football team and sitting at 1-3. This game might not tell us much, either, as I expect the Cardinals offense to score early and often. Again, for me to believe in Kent next year, I’ll need to see it.
BSU 45, Kent 28.
Oct. 6th, Northern Illinois Huskies
We might have to wait to October to know what kind of team the Cardinals have. I expect the Cardinals to be pretty good, but this will be a tough game, both because of opponent and match-ups.
NIU 38, BSU 28.
Oct. 13th, @ Central Michigan Chippewas
The Cardinals will travel to Mount Pleasant for their first MAC road game of the season, and will be facing a Chippewas team that lost their best defensive player. This should be a competitive game, though the Cardinals offense should win the day.
BSU 48, CMU 35.
Oct. 20th, Eastern Michigan Eagles
In a match-up of strength vs. strength, this should be another close game, though maybe not very exciting. The EMU run game and defense will keep the ball out of the Cardinals offense.
EMU 28, BSU 21.
Oct. 25th, @ Ohio Bobcats
Ohio’s offense will score on Ball State. Ohio’s defense will slow down the Cardinals offense, making this a solid Bobcats win.
Ohio 31, BSU 21.
Oct. 31st, @ Toledo Rockets
The rough patch for the Cardinals will continue. The Logan Woodsideless Rockets should still be really good on offense, especially against the Cardinals. Ball State should score some, but not enough.
Toledo 48, BSU 27.
Nov. 13th, Western Michigan Broncos
This will be yet another bad match-up for the Cardinals, as Western Michigan will be good on defense and should still be able to run the football. The Cardinals might be a bit depleted by this point in the season, too.
WMU 28, BSU 21.
Nov. 20th, @ Miami RedHawks
Miami is a balanced team and being on the road will hurt the Cardinals. The weather at this point in the season tends to favor good defenses, too.
Miami 28, BSU 21.
I was too optimistic to give the Cardinals a win over the Hoosiers early in the season, but that’s what the off season is for, optimism. I might have been too optimistic giving them the win against WKU, too. Sadly, this could be a much better team than last season, but still only end up with 3 wins. Quite a few of their games should be competitive, however, and a bowl run is not out of the question.