2007 Sagarin: 83
- Nate Davis, the Cardinals' quarterback, is dangerous. Last year, despite a pedestrian completion percentage (56 percent), he was extremely productive, throwing 30 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions. This year, he has thrown 9 touchdowns but 3 interceptions, but his is completing 75 percent of his passes and averaging 303 yards per game. While not the runner that Kellen Lewis is, he ran for 235 yards and 5 touchdowns last year and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry on his 7 rushes this season. Davis threw for 332 yards in last year's game against IU, but was only 26-48 and threw 2 of his 6 interceptions.
- Receiver Dante Love already has 433 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns this season, and the senior caught 100 yards for 1398 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. At 5-10, he's the anti-James Hardy, but that's all the more to his credit that he has accomplished so much. Love was a bright spot for Ball State in last years game--he caught 14 balls for 177 yards.
- 6-6 tight end Darius Hill, also a senior, caught 65 balls for 926 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, and this year he has made the most of only 11 catches, with 168 yards and 3 touchdowns.
- Miquale Lewis is the only runner who has received significant carries, and he too has been outstanding. Lewis has gained 363 yards and scored three touchdowns and averages 6 yards per carry. Lewis was injured in September 2007 and didn't play against IU, but was on track for an excellent season.
In sum, Ball State has talent and experience at the offensive skill positions. Even without Lewis, Ball State managed to gain 7.1 yards per offensive play in last year's game. Fortunately, IU's offense was even better, averaging an astounding 10 yards per offensive snap. Amazingly, there were 10 punts in the game despite all that production, which obviously indicates some big plays. It also points to the unit that could decide this game: Ball State's defense. Unquestionably, Ball State has played a tougher schedule than IU to this point (Ball State has played Northeastern, Navy, and Akron, which really says something about IU's schedule). Still, the two teams are at opposite ends of the I-A defensive rankings. Currently, IU ranks #11 in total defense at 215 yards per game; Ball State is ranked 81 with 385 yards allowed. Ball State is allowing more than five yards per play to opposing offenses. Certainly, Navy always gains a bunch of yards. Unquestionably, IU's defense will allow more yards than its current average. What Ball State's defense does will be interesting to watch.
More on this intriguing matchup as this week continues, including an exchange with Over the Pylon.