UB Stadium -- Buffalo NY
Two teams aiming to break a losing streak will battle for a season-ending victory Tuesday when Ball State visits Buffalo.
The hosting Bull have lost three straight, including a disappointing 33-27 overtime loss to MAC West champ Northern Illinois last Wednesday. Meanwhile, Ball State has lost two straight and three of its last four.
This is the 13th meeting in series history, with the Cardinals holding a 10-2 lead in the matchup all-time. Ball State won the first six duels before UB prevailed 42-24 in 2008. Buffalo took the latest decision in Muncie in 2017. Tuesday's contest is a rematch of last season’s Mid-American Conference Championship, which Ball State won, 38-28.
Here's more on the two teams . . .
BALL STATE CARDINALS (5-6, 3-4 MAC)
>> No pressure, but the MAC defending champions and preseason favorite to repeat need a win to reach bowl eligibility. Northern Illinois has already wrapped up the MAC West title.
>> Playing at home -- at least in conference play -- has not been much of an advantage on the scoreboard. The Cardinals are 0-3 in MAC play at Scheumann Stadium heading into this week's home and regular season finale.
>> Ball State is ninth in scoring (24.8 ppg), 10th in total offense (345.5 ypg), ninth in rushing (142.8 ypg) and 11th in passing (202.7). Last year, BSU averaged 34.3 ppg, 269.3 passing yards per game and 178 rushing yards per contest.
>> Senior QB Drew Plitt is ninth among MAC quarterbacks in passing yards (188.4 ypg) and 11th in pass efficiency (125.4). He completed 21 of 39 attempts for 170 yards with one TD and one INT in last week's 37-17 loss to Central Michigan.
>> Central Michigan outgained BSU 567-329 in the recent matchup.
>> Carson Steele ran 20 times for 93 yards (4.7 ypc) and a TD. The 6-1 freshman is sixth among MAC ball carriers with an average of 71.3 yards per game.
>> Jayshon Jackson and Yo'Heinz Tyler combined for 12 catches, 107 yards and a touchdown against CMU.
>> Bryce Cosby (12 tackles, 2 TFL) and Jaylin Thomas (11 tackles, 1 TFL) led defenders against Central Michigan. Thomas and Clayton Coll each recorded an interception.
>> Ball State has recorded 20 sacks and picked off 11 passes on the season.
>> Jack Chanove had converted all 31 PAT tries and is 9 of 11 on field goals with a long of 35 yards.
>> After beginning the year minus-5 in turnover margin through first four games, Ball State has been plus-10 since then with only three turnovers across the last seven games. In the first four games, the Cardinals were outscored 31-0 in points off turnovers. In the past six games, Ball State has scored 48 points off turnovers while allowing only 14.
>> The Cardinals are set to honor 33 seniors prior to the game Tuesday night. As freshmen in 2017, the group endured a 2-10 (0-8 MAC) season, but the class gained invaluable experience and has grown steadily during its time in Muncie. The class helped Ball State improve to 4-8 (3-5) in 2018 and then 5-7 (4-4) with three tight league losses in 2019. Then they led the program to a major breakthrough in 2020 with a 7-1 (5-1) record, a MAC championship and the first bowl win in program history.
BUFFALO BULLS (4-7, 2-5 MAC)
>> The Bulls have lost three straight: Bowling Green (56-44), Miami (45-18) and Northern Illinois 33-27 in overtime. It's two MAC wins were against Ohio (27-26) and Akron (45-10).
>> Despite being outgained 505-384 by NIU, Buffalo fought back from a 24-10 deficit to force overtime. It was on the Huskies one-yard line in OT when it fumbled a snap. Northern Illinois recovered and ran in a TD on its first offensive play in overtime.
>> Junior QB Matt Myers got the start for injured Kyle Vantrease and completed 16 of 23 attempts for 162 yards with one TD. Jamari Gasset led Buffalo receivers with five catches for 52 yards.
>> The Bulls amassed 222 rushing yards, led by Dylan McDuffie's 29 carries for 125 yards and a TD. Ron Cook Jr. also reached paydirt once among five carries for 30 yards.
>> Dylan McDuffie has scored a rushing touchdown in 6 straight games. He has tied former All-American Jaret Patterson (2020) for the longest UB touchdown streak since James Starks had 9 straight games with a rushing touchdown in 2008. McDuffie is 18 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards on the season. He’d be the 14th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
>> Three Bulls recorded double digit tackles: Shaun Dolac (14, 2.5 TFL), James Patterson (11, (3.5 TFL) and Cory Cross Jr. (10).
>> Junior Alex McNulty converted all three PATs and two of three field goals against NIU. One successful boot was a career-long 55-yard effort. McNulty is looking to finish the season perfect on PAT attempts for the second straight season. He has made 104 straight extra points.
>> The Bulls rank fifth among MAC teams in scoring offense (32.1 ppg), seventh in total offense (420.5 ypg), third in rushing offense (197.6 ypg) and eighth in pass offense (222.9 ypg).
>> The Bulls rank near the top of the MAC in scoring offense, averaging 31.6 points per game. However, they have been doing so without the luxury of scoring on long touchdown plays. Of the Bulls’ 33 offensive touchdowns on the season, only four have come from outside the redzone.
Thirty-five of UB’s 58 scoring drives this season (60%) have been 65 yards or longer. The Bulls have 27 scoring drives of 70+ yards, 10 of 80+ yards and 3 of 90+ yards.
>> The Bulls defense ranks first in quarterback sacks (34)