Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, Mich.
CBS Sports Network
After seeing Northern Illinois knock off the Toledo Rockets Tuesday, Western Michigan sits alone atop the MAC West standings heading into a matchup against Ball State Thursday night. WMU would be favored anyway and is on home turf, but so were the Rockets.
The Cardinals broke a five-game losing streak last Saturday with a 20-10 win over UMass. Holding the Minutemen to 10 points says something by itself. But a closer look at the losing skein reveals the Cardinals are anything but an easy outing.
Here's more on the two teams:
(CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE . . . )
-- Freshman quarterback Riley Neal has completed 60.3 percent of his passes on the season and hit 20 of 32 for 275 yards with one touchdown and one interception against UMass. Neal has 12 touchdowns against three interceptions on the season, which is a pretty good showing for a freshman with 292 attempts.
-- BSU helps itself by avoiding penalties. The Cardinals had three infractions against UMass, marking the sixth time this year Ball State hsa committed three of fewer penalties. The 3.78 ppg average is second fewest at the FBS level.
-- Junior WR KeVonn Mabon led BSU with six receptions and a personal-best 150 receiving yards against UMass. Senior Jordan Willims leads Cardinal receivers with 58 catches for 753 yards. He ranks fourth among MAC receivers in catches and is fifth in receiving yards.
-- Darian Green (5-8, 176. SO) tops the Cardinals rushing attack with 118 trips for 637 yards (10th MAC) and four touchdowns. He is second in the MAC in all purpose yards. James Gilbert (5-8, 191, FR) also gets plenty of work. He has 116 carries for 477 yards and eight TDs.
-- Senior linebacker Ben Ingle and safety Lamont McPhatter led BSU with 14 tackles versus UMass. Ingle also came up with Ball State's only turnover -- a fourth quarter interception in the end zone -- on the way to MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors.
-- The Cardinals have tied or led the turnover battle in every game but one (UMass) this season.
-- Freshman kicker Morgan Hagee has made six consecutive field goal attempts after going 2 for 2 last week.
-- The Cardinls have registered a kick return of at least 85 yards in two consecutive games. Green pulled off the latest against UMass.
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS (5-3, 4-0 MAC)
-- The Broncos came from behind with 14 fourth-quarter points to nip Ball State 42-38 in last year's contest. WMU outscored Ball State 28-7 after intermission.
-- Western Michigan has won four straight since falling to No. 1 Ohio State, 38-12, on Sept. 26. With Toledo's loss Tuesday, WMU sits alone atop the MAC West. However, it has a very tough schedule ahead, with games against MAC East leader Bowling Green, at Northern Ilinois and at Toledo. The latter two have one conference loss and remain in the MAC West race.
-- Western Michigan knocked off Eastern Michigan 58-28 last week, marking the fourth straight game in which the Broncos have scored 35 or more points. WMU ranks fourth among MAC teams in scoring offense (36.0 ppg) and is ninth in scoring defense (29.0 ppg).
-- WMU is fourth among MAC teams in passing offense (268.1 ypg) and second in pass efficiency. Ball State is last in defending the pass (293.7 ypg) and also last in pass defense efficiency.
-- Broncos QB Zach Terrell ranks third in pass efficiency and fourth in total offense.
-- The receiving tandem of Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis top the nation in combined catches (129). Braverman's 80 catches is second most in FBS (behind Tajae Sharpe of UMass -- 88), and he leads WMU in scoring (66 points).
-- Western is third in rushing offense (189.5 ypg). Sophomore Jarvion Franklin lead the attack with 644 yards and 126 carries (77.5 ypg) and hs four TDs. Jamauri Bogan has produced 485 yards and seven touchdowns on 81 trips.
-- Asantay Brown leads WMU in tackles (66) and is 12th among MAC defenders. He has 3.0 TFL and two interceptions. DB Darius Phillips has 38 stops, 4.0 TFL nd 3 INTs)
-- Darius Phillips leads the MAC in kick return average (27.5 ypr). PK Alex Handeman has converted 8 of 12 field goal attempts and is 34 of 36 on PAT's.