Ball State will travel to the Glass Bowl in Toledo, OH Tuesday night to take on the 25th ranked Toledo Rockets in a Mid-American Conference game against two of the top programs in the West Division.
Toledo is ranked for the first time since 2001, which, oddly enough, is the last time the Cardinals knocked off a ranked opponent, when they downed the 23rd ranked Rockets 24-20 in Muncie.
Toledo brings one of the MAC’s most prolific offenses to the table. The Rockets have average 34.3 points a game this season and tally 454.7 yards per game. Toledo does their damage both on the ground and in the air as they average right at 200 yards rushing and 255 yards passing each game.
The Rockets are led by three dynamic junior athletes in QB Terrance Owens, RB David Fluellen and WR/KR Bernard Reedy.
Of the three, Reedy may be the most prolific and the most athletic. The 5-9 speedster has hauled in 61 passes for 803 yards and 5 touchdowns and also is one of the nation’s foremost kick and punt returners with 3 touchdowns total on returns (1 punt, 2 kickoff).
Fluellen, a 6-0 215 workhorse, has gained 1,181 yards and 11 TDs on the season and also contributes in the Rockets varied screen game by collecting 23 receptions for 175 yards on the season.
The guy that makes the potent offense go is 6-4 Terrance Owens. The Cleveland Glenville High School Product has thrown for 2,197 yards with 13 TDs to just 5 INTs and has completed 63% of his passes. Owens has also ran for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Rocket defense gives up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points. Despite giving up a 466 yards a game to opposing offenses, Toledo only allows 26.7 points a game. They do this by turning you over (+7 on the season) and getting off the field on third down (36% 3rd down conversion). The Rockets are also tough in the Red Zone where they allow opponents to score only 2 out of 3 times and only 47% of the time giving up touchdowns.
Toledo’s defense is led by athletic, tackle machine Dan Molls who has amassed 116 tackles in 9 games. He also has 5 ½ tackles for loss, 2 sack, 2 fumble recoveries and an INT. Senior Safety Jermaine Robinson adds in 55 tackles and has picked off 4 passes. Jayrone Elliott is the Rockets top pass rusher with 6 sacks on the season.
The Ball State offense is also very prolific (it’s the MAC – what is new) at 33.7 points a game. The Cardinals amass an average of 473.2 yards a game while splitting it well between 202.4 yards rushing and 270.8 passing.
The Cardinal offense is led by Junior QB Keith Wenning who has thrown for 2,425 yards and 17 touchdowns to just 7 INTs. Wenning’s key targets are So. WR Willie Snead (68 receptions for 901 yards, 6 TDS) and 5-7 dynamo Jamill Smith (60 receptions for 641 yards and 4 TDS).
Ball State’s ground attack is led by a senior laden Offensive Line that clears the way for So. Jahwan “Quake” Edwards (949 yards and 9 TDS) as well as Barrington Scott (366 yards and a score) and Horatio Banks (336 yards and 3 TDs). Banks returns to action this week after missing the last two games with a knee injury.
The Cardinal defense has steadily improved over the course of the year, but is still giving up 33.3 points per game and 465 total yards. Ball State is led by Sr. MIKE LB Travis Freeman who has compiled 96 tackles thus far. Jr. Jonathan Newsome is the main pass rusher with 6 sacks and 9 ½ tackles for loss.
Prediction: We have two dynamic offenses and two porous, but improving defenses. This is the MAC and this is Tuesday night, so anything could happen. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Rockets have too much fire power and will outscore the Cardinals. The Cardinals will keep it close, as always, but not close enough to pull it out. Final Score: Toledo 45, Ball State 41.