Ball State 27 … Indiana 20
Ball State S Sean Baker
Ball State S Sean Baker
Posted Sep 3, 2011

Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - Ball State vs. Indiana

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - Ball State vs. Indiana

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Sept. 3 Ball State 27 … Indiana 20
CFN Analysis: The Indiana offense moved the ball, but it didn't come up with the points in the second half needed to avoid the brutal upset. Edward Wright-Baker wasn't supposed to be the passer in the quarterback derby, but he did a decent job with 272 yards and a score on a 20-of-32 day. The offense desperately missed Darius Willis, Nick Turner, and some semblance of a ground game, finishing with just 103 yards. The defense was miserable against the Cardinal running game and was beyond awful on third downs; the Hoosier offense never had the ball. With a great-looking Virginia team up next, who was sharp in its opening day win over William & Mary, the Hoosiers have to get more aggressive on defense and more physical on offense in a big hurry.

Welcome to the Pete Lembo era at Ball State. It's only one game, and a trip to South Florida next week could make the win over Indiana look like a mirage, but the biggest change under the new coaching staff is a far, far more aggressive defense. The Cardinals didn't do anything to get into the backfield last year and almost never got to the quarterback. Against Indiana, the Cardinals came up with nine tackles for loss and three sacks, with linebacker Travis Freeman coming up with a terrific day with ten tackles and half a sack. QB Keith Wenning was flawless completing 23-of-29 passes for 173 yards and two scores, while running eight times for 61 yards and a touchdown, as Ball State converted 10-of-14 third down chances.

(AP) INDIANAPOLIS -- Ball State's players pumped their helmets in front of the student section at Lucas Oil Stadium, then walked to the sideline and did it again in front of their parents. Hey, there was good reason to celebrate Saturday night.

Keith Wenning threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, leading the Cardinals to a 27-20 victory over Indiana in coach Pete Lembo's debut.

Ball State has now won two in a row against Indiana. It also beat the Hoosiers in 2008.

Wenning was terrific after holding off Kelly Page in the offseason quarterback competition. He finished 23 of 29 for 173 yards, including a perfect throw on the go-ahead score. He also ran eight times for 61 yards and scored on a 1-yard plunge midway through the second quarter. Indiana lost its season opener for the first time in eight years, and this one ruined the head coaching debut of Kevin Wilson, the former Oklahoma offensive coordinator who was hired in December.

Wilson was aggressive from the start.

His team rarely huddled, barely slowed down on play calls and gambled twice on fourth-down calls, getting a touchdown on the first one and turning the ball over on downs at the Ball State 9 in the fourth quarter.

But running plays at a breakneck pace backfired on a defense that was worn down by game's end.

Ball State rushed for 210 yards in the game, and controlled the ball for the vast majority of the second half.

It certainly didn't start out that way.

Indiana went 76 yards in 15 plays on its opening drive, scoring on Matt Perez's 9-yard run when Wilson went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Ball State 9.

Ball State tied the score when Barrington Scott caught a 1-yard TD pass early in the second quarter.

Indiana then appeared to turn the game on a two-play sequence when Ball State linebacker Tony Martin dropped an interception that could have been returned for a score. On the next play, Edward Wright-Baker hurled a perfect deep ball to Demarlo Belcher, who made a twisting catch on the sideline, spun inside of the only defender that deep and jogged the final 20 yards for a 65-yard TD catch to make it 14-7.

The Cardinals were just getting started.

They tied the score on Wenning's plunge and again at 17 when Steven Schott connected on a 38-yard field goal early in the third quarter.

Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Wenning threw a beautiful 20-yard lob to Connor Ryan in the back corner of the end zone. The play stood up to replay review and gave Ball State a 24-17 lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

The team's traded field goals in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game, and Ball State recovered Indiana's late onside kick to seal it.

Wright-Baker was 20 of 32 for 272 yards and one touchdown for the Hoosiers.

Ball State (0-0) vs. Indiana (0-0) in Indianapolis Sept. 3, 7:00, ESPN3 
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Here's The Deal … It's another MAC vs. Big Ten early season showdown with the big boy having the upper hand, but this one is a bit more salty because it's an in-state matchup between big brother Indiana and perceived little brother Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Both teams are coming off of disappointing years – with Indiana going 5-7 and Ball State 4-8 - and each will be looking to set the tone early on in what should be an improved season for each team – with new coaching staffs.

Ball State has been in a precipitous decline since it finished the regular season at 12-0 in 2008. Since Brady Hoke left for San Diego State and then Michigan, the Cardinals have gone 2-9, and 4-8 in back to back years, costing coach Stan Parrish his job. Pete Lembo is the new sheriff in town looking to show things have changed against an Indiana program that's also had its fair share of trials.

Indiana leads the overall series 4-1, but the lone loss occurred the last time the two got together in a lopsided 42-20 victory by the Cardinals. There are seniors on the Hoosier team that will no doubt be looking for revenge for one of only two losses the Indiana program has had to MAC schools over the last 33 years, but mostly, the goal is to try to make new head man Kevin Wilson happy. Not pleased with the way the overall talent level is at or with how the world perceives IU football, Wilson isn't making any excuses and he'll accept nothing less than success. The pressure is on for the Hoosiers, and under Wilson, that's a good thing.

Why Ball State Might Win: No, the Ball State defense isn't exactly going to dominate out of the gate, but Lembo is bringing a new attacking style to the Cardinals and should be able to generate pressure into the backfield. The IU passing game isn't exactly going to be jelled from the word go with Ben Chappell gone, and now, whether it's Dusty Kiel or Edward Right-Baker under center, there will be mistakes from the IU quarterback. On the other side, IU also has miles to go before the defense is solid, and Ball State might have just enough of a passing game to make it interesting with seasoned sophomore quarterback Keith Wenning just good enough to put up big numbers if he gets time to work. .

Why Indiana Might Win: Despite Indiana's extremely sporadic Big Ten success in the it's been dominant against teams from the MAC. Since 1950, when the MAC began to most closely resemble what it is today, Indiana is 26-5 (.839). Though past performance is not exactly an indication of future success, playing MAC teams have been one of the few consistent positives for the program. Overall, since that same time period, the Big Ten dominated against the MAC going 262-40-4 (.856).

The Hoosiers under Wilson will be throwing the ball every chance they get in domed confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. Their talent at wide receiver will be on display all game long. The IU offense will be tossing against a Ball State defense that ranked 79th in total defense, and 80th in pass efficiency. BSU's defense should be better this year, but the new coaching staff is still scrambling to get the right folks in the right place for new offensive and defensive schemes. Basically, Ball State doesn't have the pieces in place yet to keep up if the IU offense is working.

What To Watch Out For: Indiana receiver Demarlo Belcher has next level talent, and he this might be his moment to show it off. The 6-3, 214-pound senior isn't blazing fast, but he's sneaky quick with great hands, ball skills, and the height to go get tough catches. He was first on the team last year with 78 catches for 832 yards and five touchdowns, and now that Tandon Doss is gone, he will be the big play guy for an IU offense that needs big play guys. Trying to slow down Doss and the IU passing game is Ball State safety Sean Baker, a 5-11, 206-pound senior who may not look the part, but can bring the wood with a knack for making plays when the ball is in the air. Consider it a shock if he doesn't hit double digits in tackles.

What Will Happen: This should be a bit of a shootout, more because the defenses stink than anything the offenses will do. With Indiana's history of slinging the ball around, and Ball State's move towards doing the same, the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium could be in for a fun game. Both teams are undergoing changes, but Ball State is further behind than Indiana, and the Hoosier offense will show off more balance and more production in key spots.

CFN Prediction: Indiana 45 ... Ball State 23
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Indiana -6.5   O/U: 55
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