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2023 MAC Football Week 10 Preview: Ball State Cardinals at Bowling Green Falcons

Bowling Green and Ball State start midweek MACtion coming off big wins last week.

Scott W. Grau/BGSU Athletics

That most wonderful time of the year has arrived: midweek #MACtion!

The Falcons host the Cardinals under the weeknight lights to start their last month of the season. BG is riding a two-game win streak, while Ball State got their first MAC win against Central Michigan.

Let’s get right into it:

Game notes

  • Time and date: Wednesday, November 1st at 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Network: ESPN2 (a valid vable subscription is required for viewing)
  • Location: Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Gambling Considerations: Bowling Green favored by -5.5, with an over/under of 39.5, per DraftKings
  • All-time series: Bowling Green leads 21-9 all-time, with Bowling Green winning 7 of the last 10 matchups.
  • Last Meeting: Bowling Green trounced Ball State 48-10 on November 24, 2015

What Happened Last Time?

The Falcons traveled to Ball State for their final tune up before the 2015 MAC Championship game. Matt Johnson threw for 236 yards, and the Falcons racked up 337 rushing yards to take down the Cardinals 48-10. BG outgained Ball State in yards 576-264. BG would go on to win the MAC Championship, while Ball State would relieve head coach Pete Lembo of coaching dutiesafter five seasons.

Bowling Green Falcons outlook

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bowling Green put together their most complete performance of the season in their win against Akron. After Akron took the lead in the first quarter 7-3, Bowling Green would score 38 unanswered to go up 41-7 before Akron got a consolation touchdown to make the final score look a little bit better.

Passing continues to take a back seat in the Falcons offense. Bazelak and Orth accumulated one passing touchdown against Akron, combining for only 83 passing yards against the Zips. We know rushing and defense has helped the Falcons this year, but the quarterbacks are still looking for their breakout game against an FBS opponent.

Speaking of rushing, Terion Stewart has been incredible.

As mentioned after the Akron game, Stewart is 330 yards away from 1,000 on the season. For all the math enthusiasts, that’s 82.5 yards per game for the rest of the regular season. He’s eclipsed 100 yards in four of his last five games. Should he achieve the mark, he would be the first 1,000 yard rusher for the Falcons since Fred Coppet in 2016. Stewart also has seven rushing touchdowns, nearly quadrupling BG’s rushing TD total from last season on his own with four games to spare. They’ve also exceeded their cumulative rushing TD total (11) from last season (8). Safe to say, running the ball has been better for the Falcons.

The Falcon defense has played very well through eight games. Bowling Green has accumulated 20 takeaways, which leads the FBS. Linebacker Joseph Sipp, Jr. still leads the Falcons in total tackles with 54. Defensive back Jalen Huskey leads the defense with four interceptions, and linebacker Cashius Howell leads with 4.5 sacks.

Bowling Green special teams has two blocked field goals (tied for eighth in FBS) and one blocked punt (tied for sixth in FBS).

Ball State Cardinals outlook

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Ball State at Western Michigan Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ball State came off a huge win against Central Michigan to keep their (admittedly slim) bowl eligibility chances alive. After Central Michigan took the lead early, the Cardinals went on a 24-14 run to take the win 24-17.

Kiael Kelly, who has started the last two contests, is likely in the driver’s seat once again this week after a 13-of-16 passing effort for 101 yards and two rushing touchdowns vs. Central Michigan. He’s accumulated 234 passing yards so far. Layne Hatcher and Kadin Semonza had previously split the most time at the quarterback position, combining for 1,045 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions.

The leading rusher for the Cardinals is Marquez Cooper. The former Kent State Golden Flash has rushed for 584 yards (tied for fifth in MAC). Kiael Kelly follows behind with 343 rushing yards, giving the Cardinals a sneaky running attack.

Ball State’s defense allows 236.9 passing yards per game (10th in MAC). In contrast, they give up 123.3 rushing yards per game (second in MAC). Linebacker Cole Pearce leads in total tackles with 57. Battery mate Sidney Houston, Jr. leads in sacks with 5.5, while DB Tyler “Red” Potts leads with two interceptions.

Those numbers will make for an interesting matchup of strength-on-strength whenever Bowling Green possesses the ball.

Game Outlook

What is one thing that each team needs to do?

Ball State needs to ride the confidence wave and win out to become bowl eligible, but they’re hitting a Bowling Green team that seems to be figuring it out at the right time. A win here would do wonders for the Cardinals.

Once again, Bowling Green needs to pass a little bit more. Ball State has the second best run defense in the MAC, and will look to hold Terion Stewart and company down. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t run the ball, because that’s what they’ve been doing best. The Quarterbacks still need a breakout performance, and they’ll hope that it’s Wednesday night.

With both teams coming off huge wins, this game is important. Ball State will put some points up, but Bowling Green will put together a good performance to get the win.

Score Prediction: Bowling Green 31 - Ball State 21