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Ball State defense plays best game of young season

The passing games of VMI and Texas A&M tossed the ball all over the Cardinals, but Ball State held their ground versus Brogan Roback and Eastern Michigan.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

That was refreshing.

After struggling all season long to stop the pass, the Ball State Cardinals' defense largely shutdown the Eastern Michigan offense last Saturday, helping the Cards take the de facto MAC West lead.

After allowing over 1,000 yards of total offense to Virginia Military Institute and Texas A&M, the Cardinals stepped it up big time to slow down quarterback Brogan Roback and the EMU offense, who had just put up 48 points on the road at Wyoming.

On Saturday, the Cards allowed just 319 total yards in Ypsilanti. Roback was held to just 19-for-39 on the day, which was the first time an opposing quarterback was held to below 50 percent passing all season. Overall, Roback finished up with 196 yards passing, and the Ball State defense was able to pick him off twice, which is two more interceptions than the Cards' defense had produced all season.

All that added up to Roback quarterback rating of just 27.6. Ball State also allowed just 5 yards per attempt, a huge improvement on the first two weeks of the young season. Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen by comparison, threw for nearly 10 yards per attempt (9.7) on the BSU defense two weeks ago. VMI's Al Cobb also did well through the air, with the Cardinals' defense allowing the Keydets' quarterback to finish 33-for-47 for 399 yards. That's a mind blowing 8.5 yards per attempt versus a FCS team.

Things also improved in the running game, as the Aggies' main running back, Kwame Etwi went for 116 yards on 12 carries back on Sept. 12. This week by comparison, all of Eastern Michigan's rushers combined for just 123 yards on the ground.

It might only be one week, but the panic button that many fans thought they would be pushing after the first two weeks looks to no longer be needed. There is still reason to worry, but it will be interesting to see if the Cards can carry their momentum from a strong showing versus the Eagles into Evanston this Saturday.