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Western Kentucky at Ball State: How To Watch, Preview, Prediction

The 0-3 Hilltoppers need a road win in Muncie to salvage some pride.

Western Kentucky v Louisville Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

Location: Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, IN

Game Time: 3 PM ET

How To Watch: ESPN3

Series History: Each team was won two games in the all-time series. Western Kentucky edged out the Cardinals last season 33-21 in Bowling Green.


Outlook

Last weekend against Louisville, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers showed some significant improvement compared to the last three quarters of the Maine game. WKU actually outgained U of L 428 to 292 in total yardage and Davis Shanley proved that his dual-threat capabilities give the Tops an extra edge. All that said, WKU still lost that game against their in-state rivals 20-17 as some familiar issues reared their heads once again. Namely, special teams issues left points on the board and the pass protection still clearly has some work to do. Mike Sanford believes his team is progressing, but it’s clear his seat is gradually getting hotter.

Meanwhile up the road in Jerry Gergich’s favorite place in the world, the Ball State Cardinals have started the year 1-2. They opened the win with a tuneup 42-6 win over Central Connecticut State, then took a top ten Notre Dame team to the wire the following week. In week three, they lost by four touchdowns to Indiana in Bloomington. Despite the team piling up losses the last two years, Ball State quarterback Riley Neal is playing very well individually and needs about three hundred yards to become the program’s all-time leading passer. The Tops secondary will need to keep the senior QB limited.

If WKU wants this victory, they will need to play their best football. Ball State is an iffy team just like the Tops, shown by the fact that they have both scored 68 points and allowed 68 points this year. We’ll inevitably see both teams drive the ball fairly well, the question is who is going to finish more drives with points. Ball State has been able to do that on 80% of their trips inside the red zone this year while WKU has scored points on just 50% of their red zone trips. The WKU defense has also allowed an opposing team to score every time they have been in the red zone.

Prediction

WKU needs to find ways to finish games. Hopefully playing at home will give them a spark, but for me Riley Neal’s body of work and the fact that they played impressive football against CCSU and Notre Dame makes me think Ball State wins this one 27-17.