Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State prediction and game preview. The Eagles visit the Cardinals in a Tuesday night MAC battle.
Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State Game Preview
When: Tuesday, Nov. 8 – 7 p.m. ET
Where: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, Ind.
TV Broadcast: None
Eastern Michigan has failed in its last two opportunities to become eligible for its first bowl bid since 1987. The Eagles fell two weeks ago to undefeated Western Michigan, 45-31. And in last week’s matchup with Miami (OH), which provided a much better chance to get that sixth victory, they finished with only 33 rushing yards in a 28-15 loss to the RedHawks.
Ball State is next in line to try to delay Eastern Michigan’s bowl hopes. The Cardinals have dropped three of their last four, though, and are coming off a 32-point loss to Western Michigan last week. They did have their second-best offensive performance of the season in terms of yardage, but the defense once again failed them.
What To Know About Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan has lost three of four since its 4-1 start, and running the ball has become a chore during that rough stretch. It has finished with 88 yards or fewer three times and is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry during the 1-3 slump. Brogan Roback has thrown for 300 yards in three straight, but he was sacked five times in the loss to Miami (OH).
The defense gave up 405 yards in that contest, although that’s the fewest it has allowed in any of its last five. Eastern Michigan allowed fewer than 400 in three of its first four games. Lineman Pat O’Connor is the Eagles’ best defensive player with 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.
What To Know About Ball State
The Cardinals can become eligible for a bowl game by winning two of the final three on their schedule, which also includes road matchups with Toledo and Miami (OH). James Gilbert continues to shine, leading the MAC with 1,142 rushing yards – also good for eighth in the nation – and 11 touchdowns while posting five consecutive 100-yard games. Riley Neal is still having trouble with his accuracy, though, tossing five interceptions in the last three games.
Stopping the opposition’s running game has been a bigger issue. Ball State is allowing an average of 5.8 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns over its last five games. That’s part of the reason why Ball State has given up over 500 total yards in each of the last two.
Offense: Ball State – Both units are struggling overall, but Gilbert gives the Cardinals the edge.
Defense: Even – This could be a high-scoring affair if both teams continue struggling on this side of the ball.
Special Teams: Eastern Michigan – Freshman kicker Paul Fricano has hit 12 of his 15 field-goal attempts.
Coaching: Eastern Michigan – Even if the Eagles don’t go to a bowl game, Chris Creighton has done a great job turning around the program.
Intangibles: Ball State – The Cardinals have won the last five meetings.
Matchup To Watch
Gilbert vs. Eastern Michigan’s rush defense
The Eagles are tied for third in the MAC in average yards allowed per carry, but they haven’t seen a running back of Gilbert’s caliber yet. If Gilbert breaks out, the Cardinals should be able to pick up a victory.
Spread: Ball State -2.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State Prediction
Gilbert hits the 100-yard mark again and scores twice, helping Ball State overcome Roback’s three touchdown passes in a close victory.
Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State final score prediction: Ball State 24, Eastern Michigan 21