Good evening from the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio for this pivotal Mid-American Conference matchup between Ball State and Toledo. Ball State is looking to notch its seventh win on the season, almost assuring it an invite to a bowl game, while Toledo is looking to continue its dominance in conference play after having gone 19-2 in its last 21 conference games.
Few thoughts on this matchup …
- Toledo is in the top echelon of the MAC. After falling 24-17 in a heartbreaking overtime loss to begin 2012, the Rockets have won eight straight, improving to (9-1, 6-0) and trail Northern Illinois by a half game in the MAC West. This team hasn’t bluffed so far this season, and I don’t expect it to lay down and drop an egg against visiting Ball State. This team is too good, too talented, too driven. Running back David Fluellen rushed for a career-high 228 yards against Buffalo, topping the century mark for the fifth time this season. The junior is averaging over 178 yards through the last five games. Digging even further, Fluellen is sixth in the country with 1,181 yards and sixth in yards per game (131.2). Toledo has a sound running game to say the least.
- Toledo also boasts one of the top defensive units in the conference. The Rockets have jammed opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage and plugged up the passing lanes for opposing quarterbacks. The results have been enormous. The Rockets have tallied 12 interceptions this season, second most in the conference and four behind conference-leading Kent State, with 16. Linebacker Dan Molls leads the nation with 116 tackles, an average of 12.9 per game.
- Ball State must get off to a quick start. If not, we could be in for a long night. Keith Wenning needs to move the offense efficiently down the field in the opening drives to set the tone for the game. Ball State must score touchdowns. Too many times have we seen this team falter inside the red zone when threatening. Execution is essential.
- How will Ball State respond to playing under the national spotlight? Personally, I don’t think it affects Ball State one bit. Coach Pete Lembo simply wont allow it. Ball State will need to play like it has for the majority of the season–consistent and balanced football.
The season has come down to a three-round fight for Ball State, with it needing to win just round. Round one begins tonight.