The time is finally here to see how ready Ball State is after losing many key players. They are looking to start off the season with a W against Colgate, an FCS team. The Raiders are coming off a 4-8 2013 season, so they will be looking for a bounce back year.
Ozzie Mann will be the starting quarterback for the Cardinals, and he has big shoes to fill now that Keith Wenning has found a new home on the Baltimore Ravens. Colgate is in a similar situation, as their quarterback (Gavin McCarney) graduated last year. Look for Jake Melville to get the start this Saturday.
Ball State lost a couple very key receivers last year (Willie Snead and Jamill Smith), so it's hard to imagine that they will be a huge threat through the air. Fortunately, the Cardinals still have Jordan Williams to throw to. He had over 1,000 receiving yards last season. Expect receiver KeVonn Mabon to step up and make an immediate impact. Colgate didn't have any huge receiving threat last year. Their top receiver, Dan Cason, reeled in only 496 yards, and he has graduated. Their biggest threat through the air will probably be their tight end, Kevin O'Connell. Last year, O'Connell was just short of 350 yards.
Both teams are in sort of a sticky situation through the air, but Ball State will excel on the ground. They have running backs Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks to lead the charge. Both players had excellent years last year, averaging over 5 yards per carry. Colgate, unfortunately, does not have the running depth that the Cardinals have. Their ground attack will be led by Demetrious Russell. Last year, he was just shy of averaging 4 yards per carry.
It will be tough to match Ball State's defense this year. Ben Ingle had a tremendous breakout season last year, and I can only imagine that his performance will do nothing but soar. The Cardinals lost Jonathan Newsome to the draft last year, but there are plenty of players on this defense that will be able to step up. However, the Raiders defense is nothing to take lightly. Colgate's defensive end, Mike Armiento, had an excellent year last year, racking up 92 total tackles.
Ball State has more depth than the Raiders, and they have more standout stars. It will be an uphill battle for Colgate as they not only have much less depth than the Cardinals, but playing them on the road just adds another negative element for them. I expect that Ball State will win this game by a decent margin.