With Ball State hosting UMass later this Saturday, Max DeVito and I chat about what might go down Saturday in Muncie.
Max: Well, Sam, Ball State is sitting at 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the MAC. It's been five in a row down the drain for the Cardinals and UMass (1-6 overall, 0-3 MAC) comes to Muncie for a Halloween date. Any chance Pete Lembo's bunch can end the five-game skid?
Sam: Hey Max, I'm going to be straight up here. This might be the most disappointing game of the year in the MAC. Think about it. UMass was supposed to contend for the East division title this season, but instead they're stuck at 1-6 with some horrid performances sprinkled in between. It's been a bit better for the Cardinals, but they still sit at 2-6, with only one MAC win over Eastern Michigan. This game makes me sad. What do you think?
Max: I agree. It's a little saddening to see a 1-6 vs. 2-6 matchup playing out with two teams projected to have better seasons, but here we are! UMass hasn't exactly been THAT terrible, but the Minutemen have found ways to lose games. Ranking 62nd in the nation in total offense, it's certainly been a "middle of the pack" on the attacking side of the ball. Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel has been a little disappointing compared to his numbers from a year ago. The Ball State secondary could be a good reason for the QB to get his season back on track, though. Thoughts?
Sam: You are right. For one of these teams, this game will just what the doctor ordered. Frohnapfel was supposed to be the leader that moved UMass to near the top of the division, and he has fell flat. Ball State's secondary could have a make or break week in this one. If they are unable to stop a struggling UMass offense, then it speaks to how the defense has fallen this season. Ball State has the "better" shot at bowl eligibility at 2-6, but with Bowling Green and Western Michigan still on the docket it could be tough no matter the outcome. The question I pose to you is as follows: Do UMass even deserve a MAC win, or would it be fitting to see them leave without any conference wins in their last season. For me, that would be hilarious. Also, I forgot one small thing: Riley Neal. His numbers may be going down, but he's showing toughness for being a freshman.
Max: I love that question about UMass. Honestly, I'm not mad about the departure, so a MAC win wouldn't anger me, but Ball State and frankly Pete Lembo too can't really afford to suffer ANOTHER home loss. Let's be honest, neither of these teams have a shot at a bowl game. I don't see Ball State playing out of their minds for four games in a row to get anywhere close, as depressing as that is. Neal is playing well, and Jordan Williams is hauling in some pretty awesome grabs. I really want to see Lembo use Corey Lacanaria more. The matchup is still the UMass passing game against the BSU defense. A couple turnovers and the Cardinals may be in business due to Ball State's ability to run the ball. What do you expect from each offense?
Sam: I expect both teams to be able to move the ball, and this to be a higher scoring affair when all set and done. Darian Green and James Gilbert will have big nights for the Cardinals as well as Neal. Overall, another close game in Muncie. My final score prediction is: Ball State 41, UMass 27. Who you got?
Max: Yeah, I'll take the over in this one for sure and it'll come down to which offense has control late. I like Riley Neal at home if the weather is okay. I'll go Ball State 34, UMass 30.