7 p.m. (ESPN3)
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSITUTE KEYDETS
► The Keydets struggled to a 2-10 record last year, with a 1-6 mark in the Southern Conference. A SoCon coaces preseason poll predicted VMI would finish last in eight-team league.
► Scott Wachenheim was named the Keydets new head coach on Dec. 14. The 1984 Air Force Academy grad’s most recent position was five years as offensive line coach at Virginia. His other stops included time at Rice, where he helped build a dominant ball-control offense that led the national in rushing (306.5 ypg) in 2004.
► VMI’s defense played a significant part in last year’s struggles. The FCS Keydets allowed 41.4 ppg, while scoring 27.2 ppg.
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► Redshirt sophomore quarterback Al Cobb threw for 2,971 yards in his first collegiate season last year. A similar season would move him into second place on the school’s career passing list – with two full years remaining. The Keydets averaged 270.8 ypg throwing the ball in 2014.
► Junior wide receiver Aaron Sanders had a breakout season last year. He led the Keydets in both catches (58) and receiving yards (901).
► VMI fumbled 19 times last year, losing 12. By contrast, Ball State fumbled 15 times and lost eight. Still, VMI was minus-5 in turnover margin.
► This is VMI’s first football contest in the state of Indiana. The only other game against an Indiana team was in 1976, when VMI downed Indiana State.
► Virginia Military Institute is located in Lexington, VA. Among the notable VMI alumni are Generals George Marshall, J.H. Binford Peay II and George S. Patton. Mel Brooks is also an alumnus.
► The Keydets’ mascot is Moe the Kangaroo.
BALL STATE CARDINALS
► The Cardinals were 5-7 overall, 4-4 in MAC play last year. They finished fourth in the MAC West and the MAC Media Poll predicted another fourth place finish this season.
► Ball State is retooling its running game after four seasons with RB Jawan Edwards carrying the load.
► The entire offensive line returns, anchored by All-MAC Third Team center Jake Richard. Only one other MAC team was better at protecting its quarterback.
► Jack Milas reportedly had “an exceptional off-season,” according to head coach Pete Lembo. Freshman Riley Neal is listed as the backup for this week’s two-deep. Former Cardinals QB Ozzie Mann transferred to Georgetown College
► The Cardinals were eighth among MAC teams in total defense last year. They were 10th in sacks. Three of BSU’s defensive front line are back for 2015.
► The Cardinals ranked 17th nationally in turnover margin last year with a plus-9 mark. They also helped themselves by being the least penalized team in the MAC (50 flags, avg. 39.1 ypg)
► BSU is replacing All-MAC First Team placekicker Scott Secor.