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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 7 Game Preview: Ball State Cardinals at Eastern Michigan Eagles

A battle of division rivals looking to break a logjam for second place.

It seems like he has been here forever
Kenneth Bailey

With each game of the season, we have a better idea of where each team stands in relation to each other. Eastern Michigan came off a squeaker against Miami for a total record of 4-2 (1-1 MAC.) Ball State came off a pretty impressive 45-20 win over Western Michigan for a total record of 3-3 (1-1 MAC.) But as they say, every Saturday is a new game.

Ball State averages 23 points per game, while giving up 28 points per game. (That might still be a little skewed as Ball State faced Penn State in the non-conference season.) The Cardinal running game averages 104 yards on the ground while their defense gives up 181 ground yards. In the air, the Cardinals average 214 yards, while their air defense holds their opponents to 211 yards. One bright spot on the Cardinal defense is their turnover margin; they have six interceptions and they’ve only had their passes intercepted four times. Ball State has coughed up the ball three times while scooping up 2 of their own. That puts them on the plus side of takeaways.

The Ball State Cardinals are led by fifth year senior Drew Plitt. So if it seems like he has been there forever, he has. This year he is 103-of-169 attempts for an average of 193 yards per game. Carson Steele is the leading Cardinal rusher. And the leading targets for Drew Plitt are Justin Hall, Jashon Jackson and Yo’Heinz Tyler. Jaylin Thomas has 2 of their interceptions and Tavion Woodward has 5 of their sacks.

Eastern Michigan averages 29 points per game, while giving up 23 points per game. They gain an average of 125 yards per game, while giving up 191 yards per game. In the air, they get 238 yards per game, while giving up 199 yards per game. They have 13 sacks while giving up 18 sacks. Their defense has intercepted the ball three times and their offense has thrown the ball away four times. They have five fumble recoveries versus giving up three fumbles.

Thier offense is currently led by former Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant who has been pretty solid so far by going 94 for 142 for 203 yards per game. He has giving up 2 interceptions. The leading rusher is Jawon Hamilton, who averages 55 yards per game. Their leading receivers are still Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond and Zack Westmoreland. Of note on defense is Turan Rush with 3.5 sacks.

On paper, both teams appear to be fairly evenly matched. Which means that the game is going to come down to who can protect the ball better. They are both +1 in takeaways but they both have the same number of takeaways, so that might not be all that helpful. I think what might help Ball State is that Eastern Michigan has given up 18 sacks. If Ball State manages to get to Ben Bryant, it might be a long day in Ypsilanti. As for a prediction, I think it is going to be a fairly close match and I hope the Eagles come out on top.

Eastern is going to have to make their own breaks.
Kenneth Bailey