As the game approaches, I'm not sure there is much else to say. The line has moved from IU -3.5 to IU -3, which suggests that the money is moving toward Ball State. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg picks Ball State to win 45-42. For the record, I was not one of the "furious Hoosiers fans" who complained about Rittenberg's pick, although I think that what he says about IU's fate resting with its defense is at least as true of Ball State's, which allowed over 10 yards per play to IU in the game last November. IU certainly has some question marks. Has the defense's apparent improvement been solely a function of the schedule? How will IU's offense perform withoout James Hardy against a quality opponent? But IU, against a weak schedule, is allowing 215 yards per game, near the top of Division I-A. Ball State is averaging 385 yards of offense allowed, against a better but not overwhelming schedule. This is a quite loseable game for IU, but I still am not sold on Ball State's defense. Other media picks:
- Peter Schrager of Fox Sports takes the "Fighting Whitlocks."
- Notre Dame blog Rakes of Mallow says that "it wouldn't be football season if Indiana was[n't] blowing an early game against a MAC team." Yeah, if every year were 1977. He promptly corrected, somewhat. "I probably should have said MAC struggles." No, probably not. Other than the 24-23 win at Ball State in 2006, none of the games have been nailbiters. IU has won all of the others by at least a touchdown.
- ESPN's independent/others blogger, Graham Watson, picks Ball State 31-24.
- Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune picks IU 27-24.
The Ball State picks don't bother me. As I have mentioned many times, I think that the reflexive upset picks motivate IU in these games. Certainly, this 2008 Ball State team is one of the best MAC teams IU has played in the last 30 years