Seven reasons why the Cardinals conference schedule is a whole new beast

Cornerback Gerald Smith reacts to a hail mary thrown by Riley Neil in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter Sept. 22, at Scheumann Stadium that would have put the Cardinals one point behind Western Kentucky. The play was reviewed and called incomplete resulting in Ball State to be defeated 28 to 20. Eric Pritchett,DN
Cornerback Gerald Smith reacts to a hail mary thrown by Riley Neil in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter Sept. 22, at Scheumann Stadium that would have put the Cardinals one point behind Western Kentucky. The play was reviewed and called incomplete resulting in Ball State to be defeated 28 to 20. Eric Pritchett,DN

Ball State Football MAC Schedule

Sept. 29 - vs. Kent State 

Oct. 6 - vs. Northern Illinois 

Oct. 13 - at Central Michigan 

Oct. 20 - vs. Eastern Michigan 

Oct. 25 - at Ohio 

Oct. 31 - at Toledo 

Nov. 13 - vs. Western Michigan 

Nov. 20 - at Miami (OH) 

Ball State Football came out of its first non-conference game with confidence through the roof. The Cardinals had floored Central Connecticut State, set a handful of school records and were ready to face a highly ranked Notre Dame squad in South Bend. 

The next three weeks would see the Cardinals go 0-3 against two Power Five opponents and one Group of Five opponent, being outscored, 90-54. While the Cardinals did hold their own against Notre Dame, a blowout by Indiana and a late game loss to Western Kentucky has the team looking into a foggy future. 

Heading into their conference schedule, the Cardinals will be going up against a MAC lineup that is well experienced and ready to play at every snap of the ball. 

Experience is of plenty

The Cardinals open up conference play this weekend against Kent State. While the Golden Flashes hold the same record as the Cardinals at 1-3, Kent State has played some of the best teams in the country. The Golden Flashes faced No. 9 Penn State and Ole Miss in back-to-back weekends. The Golden Flashes held close with the Rebels last weekend in rushing yards, running for 211 yards to the Rebels’ 226. Cornerback Jamal Parker and linebacker Matt Bahr both recorded 12 tackles on the day. 

Chance of winning: BSU 69.5 percent 

The offense is hot 

Week six sees the Cardinals taking on their neighbors to the west in Northern Illinois. The Huskies have been favored to win the MAC title this season, and it can be seen through their quick moving offense. From passing to rushing, it isn’t a surprise that the Huskies will break triple digits in one of these categories. In their loss to Florida State, wide receiver D.J. Brown was a featured target, as he collected 117 of the Huskies’ 215 receiving yards in the game. A week prior saw tailback Tre Harbison rush for 124 yards in a 24-16 win over Central Michigan. 

Chance of winning: NIU 59.9 percent

The chains will keep on moving  

The Cardinals’ first away challenge in the MAC season takes them to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to take on Central Michigan, a team the Cardinals have not beaten since 2014. The Chippewas are a team all about forward progress. Against Maine, the Chippewas gained 127 yards rushing and only lost 30. In the loss to NIU, the Chippewas were in the backfield even less, as they would gain 193 yards and only lose 29. Three players didn’t even lose a yard. 

Chance of winning: CMU 55.7 percent

Sleepers can be a rude awakening 

In their homecoming matchup, the Cardinals will face Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have been the biggest surprise of the MAC West Conference, as they challenged some of the big dogs in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Eagles finished off Purdue in week two with a field goal in the final second of the game and recently took San Diego State to overtime. The Eagles are a team that likes to pass the ball, racking up 200+ receiving yards in the last two games. 

Chance of winning: EMU 66.1 percent

Back-to-back with the best in the MAC 

Weeks nine and 10 see the Cardinals on the road taking on two favorites to win the MAC title, Ohio and Toledo. The Bobcats are coming off a four point loss to an undefeated Cincinnati team which saw the Bobcats hold the majority of the possession time. After coming off their first loss of the season, reigning conference champion Toledo demolished Nevada, 63-44. Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni was a rocket, as he rushed for 154 yards and only lost 23. 

Chance of winning: OHIO 71.3 percent

TOL 85.5 percent 

Strong play on both sides of the ball 

In their final home game of the season, the Cardinals will face Western Michigan. While they aren’t the Broncos of 2016 that went 13-1, the team has shown to be solid on both sides of the ball. In their last two games, the Broncos have outscored the opposition 102-15. Quarterback Jon Wassink has been locked in for the Broncos, completing 23 of 30 passes against Georgia State and 20 of 25 against Delaware State. The offense has not been afraid to run wild, as they collected 543 total yards last weekend. 

Chance of winning: WMU 68.4 percent

Similarity and history

The final game of the season will be against Miami (OH), the same as it has been for the past two seasons. In the matchup right before Thanksgiving break, the Cardinals have been close, losing by one to the RedHawks in 2016. They also took a 28-7 loss last season. Both teams currently hold the same record with similar experiences, losing a close game to a Conference USA team and getting blown out by a Big 10 squad.  Running back Alonzo Smith exploded for the RedHawks, tallying 164 rushing yards against Bowling Green last weekend. 

Chance of winning: M-OH 63.2 percent 

Contact Jack Williams with any comments at jgwilliams@bsu.edu or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.

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