Scouting Ball State
2010 Record: 3-7 (2-4 Mid-American Conference)
2009 Record: 2-10 (2-6 MAC)
Buffalo 42, No. 12 Ball State 24 (2008 MAC Championship game)
Ball State leads Buffalo, 6-1
Three players to watch:
LB Travis Freeman – With 93 total tackles, the sophomore leads the Cardinals and ranks fifth in the MAC this season. Freeman has made his mark all over the field, proving to be a playmaker. He has also recorded 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one interception, and a pass break-up. Look for lots of big hits when freshman quarterback Alex Zordich runs the football, as both he and Freeman seek contact.
DE Robert Eddins – The fifth-year senior leads the team in sacks with six and tackles for a loss with 11, showing his ability to get in the backfield. A visit from Eddins isn't what the doctor ordered for the struggling Bulls offensive line. It will have to step up Friday to give Zordich enough time to make a play.
RB Eric Williams – The versatile sophomore is a scary playmaker who needs extra attention. He has scored six touchdowns this season in three different ways: three rushing, two receiving and one on a kick return. He leads the team in rushing yards with 441 and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The Bulls will need to focus on Williams when he's on the field.
The Bulls will win if… Zordich continues to improve. The true freshman has steadily improved each start. If this trend continues, the Bulls will be looking at a win on Friday night. The Bulls are 2-0 this season when completing more than 55 percent of their passes and 0-7 when they don't hit that mark. The defense will also need to help Zordich and company with field position early, as the Bulls have struggled to gain early leads.
The Cardinals will win if… They can force the Bulls offense into mistakes, which has not been a difficult task for opposing defenses this season. The Buffalo defense is good, but it tends to break down when they are on the field for a long time, so maintaining time of possession will be key for the Cardinals.
The Bulls have a veteran group in the secondary that has had success against Ball State before. The last time these teams met in the 2008 MAC Championship, senior cornerback Sherrod Lott and senior safety Domonic Cook both came up with turnovers for a Buffalo defense that forced five turnovers en route to the MAC title.
This is Buffalo's first game against a team with a record below .500 since early October against Bowling Green. Seeing a weaker conference opponent will be good for the struggling Bulls, who have lost four straight games.
Bulls – 24
Cardinals – 17