2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Army at Ball State
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Sept. 24 at Ball State 48 … Army 21
CFN Analysis: The run defense didn't have a prayer against Army, but the offense was unstoppable with Keith Wenning picking apart the Knights with 24-of-30 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, and with the running game continues to get a big start out of Jahwan Edwards, who ran 11 times for 64 yards and three scores. The offense converted 10-of-13 third down chances and the defense didn't allow a completed pass in the stunning blowout, and now it's time to really and truly think the Cardinals could be the real deal, forgetting about what's going to happen at Oklahoma next week.
Army ran for 402 yards and the combination of Jared Hassin and Raymond Maples was fantastic, but the great play of the ground game was negated by a defense that couldn't come up with a stop and couldn't get off the field. Army didn't lose because of the passing game, but Trent Steelman and Max Jenkins combining to miss on all four pass attempts with a pick is unacceptable. Now at 1-3, it's freak out time needing to win five of the final eight games to get to a bowl, and that's hardly a given with five road games left to deal with. This was the game the Knights needed to have, and they didn't get it.
(AP) MUNCIE, Ind. -- Trying to establish and maintain a running game is always part of Army's game plan. Still, coach Rich Ellerson likes to incorporate some form of a passing attack.
The Black Knights accomplished the first part, rushing for 402 yards on 59 attempts in a 48-21 loss at Ball State on Saturday. Quarterback Trent Steelman, however, went 0 for 3 passing with an interception, and backup Max Jenkins had one incomplete pass.
"We don't expect to be that one-dimensional, but we didn't stay on the field long enough," Ellerson said. "If we're going to be effective throwing the ball, it's not going to happen on third-and-long. If we're going to challenge people throwing the ball, it's going to be in early downs or either-or situations.
"It's not like we didn't call any (passing) plays; we just couldn't complete any," he added. "We completed one, but it was to them."
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning couldn't seem to miss. He threw for a career-high 324 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdown passes, leading the host Cardinals (3-1) to their first victory over the Black Knights (1-3) in three tries.
"We saw their secondary had a couple weak guys, so we wanted to take advantage of it," said Wenning, who finished 24 of 30 with no interceptions. He was replaced by Kelly Page after the third quarter.
Raymond Maples had 16 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns for the Black Knights, who were seeking their first back-to-back wins since early last season. Jared Hassin added 17 carries and 111 yards.
Army's defense struggled and Ball State took a 31-0 lead at halftime.
"I don't know that we ever got it slowed down," Ellerson said. "Their quarterback had a hot hand, and we couldn't get close enough to cool it off. I was disappointed to see how effective they were with some real basic run plays against our base defense. They pushed us around."
Ball State last began a season 3-1 in 1995.
"This turned out to be a pretty good month of September," Cardinals coach Pete Lembo said. "It probably exceeded my expectations just because we have such a long way to go in so many areas before we feel complete."
Ball State wasted no time taking control of the game, marching down the field on its opening possession. Jahwan Edwards' 3-yard scoring run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Edwards found the end zone again, this time from 12 yards out, to make it 14-0. Wenning followed with scoring passes to Jamill Smith and Snead on consecutive possessions later in the quarter, extending the lead to 28-0.
Ball State finished the half with 333 yards of total offense and 17 first downs, compared to Army's 101 yards and four first downs.
After another Cardinals' touchdown in the third quarter, the Black Knights cut the deficit to 38-7 on Maples' 1-yard scoring run with 4:11 left in the quarter. Maples scored on a 19-yard run early in the fourth, and Terry Baggett added a 7-yard touchdown run for Army with 1:07 left.
"Give them credit," Ellerson said. "Their offensive line played wonderfully. Their quarterback played his best game. We didn't have the answers to counter that."
Army 1-2) at Ball State (2-1) Sept. 24, 2:00, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Cardiac arrest was en vogue for Ball State and Army fans last weekend. The Black Knights raked out one of their biggest upsets since the Revolutionary War in dropping unbeaten Northwestern, while the Cards needed a touchdown pass with under 30 ticks left to slip by conference foe Buffalo in their first home game of the season.
This is one of those "momentum" games, where both teams are coming off of an emotional win that can set a team off on a solid run through the meat of their schedules. Ball State probably "needs" this game a little more, because a nice solid confidence crusher is on the horizon with a trip to current No. 1 Oklahoma awaiting them next week.
Why Ball State Might Win: QB Keith Wenning has been compared at times with former standout Cardinal QB Nate Davis, and had to beat out several players expected to start ahead of him last year to get the job. They've shown pretty good moxie for most of this season, which kicked off with a fairly large upset of Indiana on a neutral field, but a road atmosphere. The Cards have a veteran for the most part, and up until last week, Army has been abysmal on defense, especially up front.
The Knights were giving up over eight yards per carry average to the top two rushers on both San Diego State and Northern Illinois, their first two games. If Ball State can stay disciplined and run the ball, there is no reason to think they can't put up those sorts of numbers, too. Also, Army had been a turnover machine before this past week, giving up the football an average of twice more per game than their opponents.
Why Army Might Win: Army does nothing but run the ball, and through three games, Ball State hasn't stopped the run with any regularity, letting all three opponents get well over 100 yards despite none of them being known as run-heavy clubs.
QB Trent Steelman has run impressively through three games, leading the nation's second best ground game averaging over 362 rushing yards per game. Conversely, they're last in the nation in passing yards.
The Army defense had been somewhat of a sieve at times, but it held Northwestern to only 309 total yards and an amazing 10 total in the 3rd quarter. They specialize in ball control, and seem to have turned a corner last week against a well coached Wildcat ball club.
What To Watch Out For: Wenning has been an outstanding caretaker of the football, yet to register an interception this season to go along with his four touchdown passes. The comparisons to Davis probably stem more from Davis being the only recent BSU quarterback of memory, showing plenty of poise in leading the Cards back, slinging the late touchdown pass to freshman receiver Willie Snead. He seems adept at trusting the open man, and is having a great season in spite of leaning on freshman skill position players at times.
What Will Happen: This actually sets up to be a fairly close game. Army has been all over the place, knocking off an above average Big 10 team in spite of them missing their star QB, but getting plastered by Northern Illinois, who compares in talent to Ball State. BSU has performed probably above expectation every week. However, the smart money is on Army, whose potent rushing attack figures to be too much for a Cardinal team who's struggled at times against just that. Often in college football, it comes down to who has the best individual player, and Steelman is that. He and RB Malcolm Brown, averaging nearly ten yards per carry, will set the tone, and keep the turnovers down enough to clip the Cards.
CFN Prediction: Army 27 ... Ball State 21
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Army -4 O/U: 50.5
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