When the Bowling Green Falcons and Ball State Cardinals take the field at Scheumann Stadium tonight, very little will be on the line. The Falcons (8-3, 6-1 MAC) have already wrapped up the MAC's Eastern Division title, so they are prepping for their appearance in the MAC Championship game. The Cardinals (3-8, 2-5 MAC) cannot earn a spot in a bowl game, so this game will conclude their 2015 season.
The Falcons are seeking their second 9-3 season and 7-1 MAC record in three seasons (2013) but, more importantly, are trying to rebound from arguably their worst offensive effort of the season in a disappointing loss to rival Toledo. BGSU committed five turnovers in the game after giving away just six in their first 10 games combined, and they scored a season-low 28 points.
The Cardinals will seek to build positive momentum for the 2016 season. BSU began 2015 with two wins in their first three games, then lost five in a row before beating UMass at home. However, the Cardinals have lost two in a row and been outscored 102-38 in the process. Ball State, ranked last or next-to-last in most defensive categories, face an uphill battle against the league's top-ranked offense in their quest to finish 4-8.
Quick Game Info
Game Date, Time: Tuesday, November 24th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Location: Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Indiana.
Television: Despite being midweek #MACtion, the game will be televised exclusively on ESPN3 with the broadcast team of Jim Barbar (play-by-play) and Mark Hermann (commentary).
Streaming: You can stream the game live on the Watch ESPN website or by using the Watch ESPN mobile app. A valid cable subscription is required.
Radio: Ball State fans can listen via the BSU Radio Network on WLBC 104.1 FM or WXNT 1430 AM. Fans can also click here for a live audio stream, and they can find WLBC on the TuneIn radio app for mobile. Bowling Green fans can listen via eight different affiliates, including flagship station WFRO 99.1 FM. They can also listen online here.
Live stats: Live stats are available through this link, courtesy of Ball State athletics.
Odds: Ball State is currently a heavy 22 point underdog at home to Bowling Green. The over/under for the game is 71 points. (Courtesy of Oddsshark.com)
Weather: Conditions should be as optimal as they could for a late November game. Game-time temperatures will be in the mid-30s with mostly clear skies, no chance of precipitation and light winds. (Courtesy of Weather.com)
Series: This will be the 31st meeting between the Falcons and Cardinals. BGSU owns a 20-9-1 edge in the all-time series and is 9-4-1 in Muncie. The Falcons have won three in a row on the road against Ball State, including a 31-17 decision in 2009, the most recent time the teams played at Scheumann Stadium. BSU has not beaten Bowling Green in Muncie since 1995. However, the Cardinals won the most recent meeting last year in Bowling Green, 41-24. It was their first win over BGSU since 1996.
Players To Watch
Riley Neal (QB, BSU) -- Neal has taken the Cardinals by storm as a freshman. He has prototypical size for a quarterback and, while he is still developing, has been very efficient with the football. He's completing a respectable 58 percent of his passes and has just three interceptions in 351 attempts. He's also dangerous with his feet, as he's rushed for 400 yards (4.8 per carry) and two touchdowns. He should be able to have success against the Falcons but has to guard against forcing passes in an effort to keep up on the scoreboard.
Darian Green and James Gilbert (RBs, BSU) -- Teams that have had the most success against BGSU have been able to run the ball effectively and consistently. Green and Gilbert are a young two-headed monster that have combined for nearly 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. They'll be counted on to run clock and provide balance for Neal. The Falcons have forced 19 turnovers this year but have been far less successful at causing fumbles (5) than interceptions (14).
Joshua Posley (DE, BSU) -- Posley has been most successful in creating havoc in opponent's backfields this season, as he's caused 8.5 tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks. He's also forced two fumbles. BGSU has given up the most sacks in the MAC, so they are vulnerable to upfield pressure at times. If the Cardinals' defense, statistically one of the poorest in the MAC, is to stop BGSU, Posley and his friends will have to disrupt Johnson throughout the game.
Matt Johnson (QB, BGSU) -- Matty J is the lifeblood of the Falcons' offense, but he's been slowed for the past two weeks. Against WMU and Toledo, he was just 52-for-88 for 543 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. Those would be great numbers for most QBs, but Johnson had just three picks in his first nine games combined and had not thrown for fewer than 324 yards in a game until the last two weeks. It's important for Johnson to get back on track with the MAC title game looming in 11 days.
Alex Huettel (RG, BGSU) -- Huettel is on the cusp of one of the rarest feats in college football -- starting every game of his career. In his four active seasons, BGSU has played 52 games, and Huettel has started all 52. He will soon have four bowl and three championship game appearances in his four seasons. With Huettel as an anchor on the right side, the Falcons in 2015 have authored the league's best scoring and passing offense
Austin Valdez (LB, BGSU) -- You think Travis Greene's switch from wide receiver to running back was impressive? Valdez is a quarterback-turned-linebacker who, as a sophomore, has already refined his craft to the point that he leads BGSU and is fourth in the MAC with 111 tackles. Of those, he has 8.5 tackles for loss, as well as one sack and two interceptions. He's been a playmaker all season, and his continued development will be fun to follow.