Ball State Cardinals Vs. Army Black Knights 9/24/11 Mark’s Free College Football Pick Against the Spread
The Army Black Knights travel to Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals of the MAC. The Black Knight handed Northwestern a 21-14 defeat last Saturday while the Cardinals snuck by Buffalo 28-25.
After consecutive defeats to open the season, Army broke in to the win column against Northwestern in typical workmanlike style. The Black Knights ground out (no pun intended) 387 total yards with the vaunted triple option working at peak efficiency with 381 of those yards. Trent Steelman (1-7/6) wasn’t a factor in the air but was on the ground with a team leading 108 rushing yards on 28 carries while reaching the end zone three times. Raymond Hughes was right on his heels with 95 yards while Malcolm Brown had the most explosive day with 79 yards on only six totes. As one would think when 75 of the 76 plays are running plays the time of possession advantage weighed heavily in favor of Army with over 40 minutes. The Black Knights still needed a strong performance from the defense and got it, allowing just 309 yards and 3 of 14 third down conversions.
Ball State avoided a disastrous start to the season with a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left to upend conference rival Buffalo. The Cardinals were effective but not explosive with the ball with 400 total yards. However Ball State was balanced with the ability to both run and throw. Quarterback Keith Wenning (24-36/226) had an accurate and mistake free afternoon under center with a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers. Wenning connected with nine different receivers and did a good job of managing the game but he benefited from a productive rushing attack that totaled nearly 175 yards at 4 ½ yards per pop. Jahwan Edwards (22-112) led the backfield with two touchdowns while Barrington Scott added a complimentary 44 yards. The Cardinals defense gave up a respectable 353 yards and limited the Bulls to 4 of 13 on third downs but did have a few breakdowns in the secondary.
The key to winning this game could have nothing to do with what Ball State does on offense. Of course the Cardinals will need to score and avoid mistakes but defending the Army option will decide whether this is a loss or a win. I don’t think Ball State stops the Black Knights but I’m hoping they at least play it close…