Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky Prediction, Game Preview


Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky prediction and game preview. Find out who is projected to win Saturday’s meeting between the Cardinals and Colonels.


Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky Game Preview

When: Saturday, September 17 – 3 p.m. ET

Where:
Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.

TV Broadcast:
ESPN3

Ball State finally gets to play at home after splitting a pair of tough road games. And it’s become clear under first-year coach Mike Neu that the Cardinals are going to focus on the running game. They ran for 325 of their 455 total yards in a 31-21 win over Georgia State to open the season, but were forced to go to the air more in last week’s 30-20 loss to Indiana after falling behind quickly. James Gilbert and Darian Green both are averaging more than five yards per carry, and Ball State should be able to establish run more effectively this week.


Eastern Kentucky will try to stop it, but that didn’t work out so well in its opener against Purdue. The Colonels allowed 261 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone as the Boilermakers pulled away for a 45-24 win. EKU used last week as a tuneup for another FBS team by hosting Pikeville College (KY) of the NAIA. It forced eight turnovers, but even Pikeville cracked the 100-yard mark on the ground in the Colonels’ 55-14 win. We’ll see if that was enough to prepare the for Gilbert and Green.

What To Know About Ball State

Riley Neal started the major of Ball State’s games last year as a true freshman, something Neu hoped would benefit Neal coming into this year. Neal, though, hasn’t been very efficient, completing just 50.8 percent of his throws with only one touchdown and three interceptions. If he’s going to be throwing it roughly 30 times per game, Neu – a quarterbacks coach last year with the New Orleans Saints – will have to make sure Neal is prepared for the workload. 

What to Know About Eastern Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky already has played an FBS team in the state of Indiana and hung tough for a half before its defense wore down. The Colonels have former Missouri standout quarterback Maty Mauk on the roster but he hasn’t seen any action since going 2 for 7 with two interceptions against Purdue. They’re more focused on the run anyway, with nearly double the amount of rushes than pass attempts. 

Advantages

Offense: Ball State – Gilbert and Green should be able to find running room.

Defense: Ball State – Held firm against Indiana in the second half and allowed the Cardinals to make a little comeback.

Special Teams: Ball State – The Cardinals have a blocked punt for a touchdown to their credit.

Coaching: Ball State – Neu’s NFL experience should help Neal progress as the season goes on.

Intangibles: Ball State – The Cardinals will be fired up for their home opener.

Matchup To Watch

Gilbert and Green vs. EKU’s run defense

It’s not out of the question that both of them run for at least 100 yards. And that’s especially true if Neal struggles again and Neu is forced to call on them often.

Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky Betting Odds

Spread: Ball State -13 1/2

Over/Under:
 55 1/2

Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky Prediction

Neal has an efficient day despite an interception, Gilbert and Green combine for three touchdowns on the ground and the Cardinals win going away.

Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky Score Prediction: Ball State 35, Eastern Kentucky 14

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