Ball State football’s had a couple of rough weeks, and now the Cardinals have to face one of the best offenses in the Mid-American Conference.
Ball State (2-5, 0-3 MAC) is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and now has to host Toledo (6-1, 3-0 MAC), who leads the Mid-American Conference with 504.4 yards per game.
“We’ve got everything in the world to gain and not to lose,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said.
Toledo is second in the MAC with 38.0 points per game, while Ball State is second-to-last with 19.4 points per game. Neu says the Cardinals will have to hold onto the ball and dominate time of possession to have a chance.
“That’s not a secret,” Neu said. “The longer we can keep Logan Woodside and the Toledo offense on the sideline, the better off we are.”
Woodside, a senior quarterback, is one of the nation’s top passers. He’s eighth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a 166.1 passer rating and leads the Mid-American Conference with 289.7 passing yards per game. In seven games, he’s thrown 16 touchdown passes against two interceptions.
“He’s the best quarterback that we’ll see this year,” Neu said. “He performs at a consistent level week-in-week-out.
But even with those numbers from Woodside, Toledo’s offense stays balanced. The Rockets average 211.7 yards per game on the ground behind three different running backs who average at least five yards per carry on 65 or more carries.
“They don’t really give us any keys on what they’re doing,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Jacob White said. “They’ll run the ball on third-and-long.”
Ball State’s offense, however, hasn’t scored a touchdown since Sept. 23. The Cardinals have been outscored 142-15 in their last three games, with all 15 points coming via field goals.
Junior kicker Morgan Hagee made all three of his field goal attempts in Ball State’s 56-9 loss against Central Michigan last week after starting the season going 3-7.
“It was a confidence thing before,” Hagee said. “We had some protection problems, so I kind of let that get to me too much even after we fixed those.”
But the Cardinals need touchdowns, and Neu said he wasn’t sure if redshirt senior quarterback Jack Milas, already starting for injured junior Riley Neal, would be healthy enough to play. If not, then redshirt sophomore Zack Blair will likely start.
Ball State and Toledo are scheduled to kick off 7 p.m. Thursday at Scheumann Stadium.
Contact Colin Grylls with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @colin_grylls.