Our team was triumphant on Saturday and rolls along at 1-0. Ball State comes to Kinnick Stadium to "kick off" (sport of football reference) the 2014 season. But who is this "Ball State," really? Where is it? Does anyone really know? Here's what we can tell you.
Name: Ball State University Cardinals
Location: Parts Unknown
Record: 1-0 (0-0)
Last game: 30-10 W vs. Colgate
Passing: Ozzie Mann, 20-32, 203 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Horactio Banks, 13 rushes, 134 yards, 0 TDs
Receiving: KeVonn Mabon, 11 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD
Tackles: Ben Ingle, 11 tackles
Tackles For Loss: Michael Ayers, 1.0 TFL
Interceptions: [NULL SET]
Iowa currently holds a 2-0 record in this rivalry with a combined score of 101-0. Also, both games came under Kirk Ferentz, so it's not like there's some weird 74-0 score from like 1908 skewing things here. And while it may be too much to ask for Iowa to continue the shutout for 60 more minutes on Saturday, a win should be... in the cards. Get it, "cards"? Like Cardinals, that's Ball State's nickname. Wait. No, the win's not *in* Ball State. It—it won't—ugh siri delete this joke
It's a new-look offense for the Cardinals—or at least, from a personnel standpoint, as sophomore QB Ozzie Mann* takes the reins for the first time. Gaze upon his passer rating, ye mighty, and despair: 130.6. Mann went 20-32 in the first start of his career last week and was fine, if unspectacular.
The Cardinals will need a stronger performance from their rushing game against that brutal Iowa front than what UNI mustered last week (25 rushes, 25 yards), and the 311 yards that BSU racked up against Colgate is a nice step in that direction, but it's pretty obvious that the Raider defense was overmatched from the get-go. Here's Ball State's best run of the day, via Horactio Banks. It's 36 yards.
Unlike the David Johnson highlights from last week's game preview, this isn't the type of situation where you think "oh god this is going to happen to us." Like, imagine how successful that run blocking—and thus that run—would have been against Iowa's front. Little bit of a different story. And lest you think this is merely an over-extrapolation of one play, here's a link to more highlights (mostly offensive) from that same game. Ball State doesn't look all that dominant up front; Colgate just looks sloppy and undersized.
*The guy's name is literally the first part of "Ozymandias." JESSE, WE'LL COOK IN MUNCIE
The real stars of Ball State's victory were on the other side of the ball, though, as the defense ceded just nine first downs and 226 yards of total offense to the Colgate Raiders. Gaps—cavities, if you will—were hard to come by for Colgate, and the nine first downs were made even more impressive by the fact that the Raiders didn't commit any turnovers or take any kicks to the house—or anything else that would end a drive before a full set of chances to earn a first down (or take care of a possession without a single play from scrimmage at all). No, that's a legit nine first downs allowed. That's solid.
The leader of the pack is Ben Ingle, a linebacker who paced the Cardinal defense last year with 116 tackles en route to a 2nd-team All-MAC designation in 2013. So it's the return of the MAC('s fourth-to-sixth-best linebacker)! HIT THE MUSIC!
Anywaaaay, Ingle logged 11 tackles in Saturday's opener, and the BSU defense will be trying to keep him upright and mobile for the duration of this week's game. There's nothing fancy about the Cardinals—no crazy blitzes, no all-or-nothing gambles, no funky formations—they just line up and disrupt. Iowa needs to be able to move the point of attack against the smallish front, or else it could be a frustrating afternoon.
Like UNI last week, Ball State is a well-coached team with a pretty nice track record of success for its level. And if Sawyer Kollmorgen were BSU's QB, yeah, we'd be more worried about this game.
The line is 17 points and that feels just a skosh low to me (though Vint just bet his dog on Ball State, so what the hell do I know). There's very little in the way of star power or individual difference-makers on this BSU team, and while I don't think this'll be another horrendously lopsided blowout, I do think Iowa—even for all its conservative flaws—should win handily.