CHIRP: The Edge - Ball State vs. Central Michigan

Quarterbacks

Ball State - Tanner Justice has shown improvement each week since taking over for the injured Kelly Page. At Northern Illinois last week, Justice completed 11 of his 19 passes for 134 yards. He threw a touchdown and was not intercepted, but the threat of him passing probably didn't keep Central Michigan defensive coordinator Tim Banks up late this week.

Central Michigan
- Dan LeFevour is making his case to be the greatest MAC quarterback ever. He has the fifth most total yards of offense in NCAA history and holds MAC career records in total offense, completions and passing attempts. He is a semifinalist for both the O'Brien and Maxwell Award. Simply put, LeFevour is good.

Advantage - Chippewas - Justice is struggling to keep defenses honest against the pass. LeFevour does that with his own dual threat. Nate Davis finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year, LeFevour could legitimately receive an invitation to New York.

Running backs

Ball State - The trio of Cardinals' running backs continues to rack up sizable rushing totals. Northern Illinois entered their game against Ball State as the best run defense in the MAC, but Cory Sykes, MiQuale Lewis and Eric Williams helped dethrone them with 179 yards Thursday night.

Central Michigan
- The Chippewas' top-two rushers are LeFevour and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Junior running back Carl Volny has only rushed 57 times in 10 games this season and has 287 yards. If Central Michigan is going to run, they use LeFevour.

Advantage - Cardinals - Teams are still having problems stopping coach Stan Parrish's wildcat formation. With Ball State's three best running backs on the field at once, it will be tough for any team to figure it out anytime soon.

Wide receivers

Ball State - The reemergence of the Cardinals' passing game has brought their receivers back into the mix. Briggs Orsbon made three receptions at Northern Illinois and Dan Ifft made a 29-yard touchdown grab.

Central Michigan - Junior Antonio Brown holds the top two Chippewas' single-season receiving totals. This year, he has 734 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Bryan Anderson also has 568 yards and three touchdowns.

Advantage - Chippewas
- It helps when LeFevour is throwing the ball, but Brown is one of the most electric players in the MAC. Ball State really doesn't have a deep threat and probably won't for the remainder of the year.

Defensive line

Ball State - Robert Eddins has seven sacks and has blocked two punts. Eddins has probably been the Cardinals' best player this year, without getting much help from fellow defensive end Brandon Crawford. But with it being Crawford's and tackle Drew Duffin's Senior Night, he might get more help.

Central Michigan
- Defensive end Frank Zombo made the watch list for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's best lineman. This year, he has 2.5 sacks and 26 tackles. Sophomore John Williams helps with two sacks and 20 tackles.

Advantage - Cardinals
- Eddins and Zombo could end up on the MAC first-team with each other, but Zombo hasn't had the big year he was expected to. Crawford played his best game of the year against Northern Illinois and should be feeding off the added emotion of Senior Night.

Linebacker

Ball State - Junior Davyd Jones leads the Cardinals with 79 tackles along with one forced fumble. Freshman Travis Freeman is second with 78 tackles of his own.

Central Michigan - Junior Nick Bellore has started all 27 games since the start of his career and leads the Chippewas with 98 tackles. His teammate Matt Berning is second with 76.

Advantage - Chippewas
- This group is a big part of Central Michigan averaging 18 points allowed a game this year.


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