college football picks Ball State at Purdue 9-18-10

September 17, 2010


DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 12:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500) — West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: BigTenNetwork. Home Record: Ball State 1-1, Purdue 1-0. Away Record: Ball State 0-0, Purdue 0-1. Neutral Record: Ball State 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Ball State 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Series Record: Purdue leads, 7-0.

GAME NOTES: Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette will be the stage for an in- state battle this Saturday, as the Purdue Boilermakers will host the Ball State Cardinals.

This will be the eighth meeting between the two schools on the gridiron, but the Cardinals will be looking for their first win in the series. Purdue has won the previous seven showdowns, including a 38-28 victory in the last contest.

The Cardinals, under the guidance of second-year head coach Stan Parrish, will hit the road for the first time in 2010. Ball State began the year with a 27-10 victory over Southeast Missouri State, but followed that win with a shocking, 27-23 setback to Liberty in Muncie.

The Boilermakers opened their 2010 campaign with a tough task, battling Notre Dame in South Bend. Coach Danny Hope’s squad fought hard, but eventually fell to the Fighting Irish, 23-12. The team was quick to rebound however, as the Boilermakers defeated Western Illinois, 31-21, in their next contest.

After opening the season with a dominating performance against Southeast Missouri State, the offense for Ball State hit a bump in the road against Liberty, scoring one touchdown in a 27-23 loss.

Ball State rumbled for 145 yards in the contest, but none of the running backs finished near 100 yards. Cory Sykes led the way with 65 yards, while Eric Williams added 44 yards on 10 carries. It was a much tougher game for the two backs, who combined for 175 yards and three scores in the opener.

Kelly Page started the game for the Cardinals, but after completing just 5- of-10 passes for 64 yards, he found himself on the bench in favor of Keith Wenning. Wenning was impressive in a relief role, throwing for 129 yards and one touchdown on 13-of-18 efficiency.

Defensively the Cardinals struggled in the first quarter against Liberty, and were unable to recover after allowing two touchdowns.

Coach Parrish’s defense was abused through the air for 276 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Cardinals did grab three interceptions, including one by Charlie Todd, who returned the pick for a touchdown.

On top of the poor play against the pass, the defense also had trouble corralling Liberty’s ground attack, which churned out 119 yards and two more scores. It was the second straight game that Ball State surrendered more than 100 yards on the ground.

The Boilermakers might be 1-1 in the early stages of this season, but the offense has been extremely inconsistent, especially quarterback Robert Marve. The Miami transfer was intercepted twice and sacked four times in the loss to Notre Dame, and while he was slightly better against Western Illinois (171 yards with one score and one interception) he still has plenty of growing to do before he can lead this offense.

It will only get harder for Marve, who lost one of his top targets, Keith Smith, to a torn ACL. Smith, who hauled in six receptions against Western Illinois, was the only starter back at the receiver position in 2010.

Fortunately the ground game was much better in the second contest, as the Boilermakers rumbled for 227 yards on 6.5 yards per attempt. Dan Dierking led the way with 102 yards and two scores, while Al-Terek McBurse added 81 yards and one touchdown.

The Boilermakers had some trouble against the pass in the matchup with Notre Dame, but that is to be expected when facing a squad like the Fighting Irish. However, what is truly surprising is that Purdue’s secondary struggled against Western Illinois, which torched coach Hope’s defense for 286 yards.

Overall the defense allowed 406 yards, and finished the game with just one takeaway. It was just the second takeaway on the year for Purdue, which despite having five sacks over the first two games, has been unable to force the big play.

Ryan Kerrigan was the star on this unit against Western Illinois, as the lineman racked up 12 tackles, four TFLs, one of which was a sack, and also forced a fumble in the win.

Purdue has not looked good in either of its first two matchups. The passing game is inconsistent and the defense has shown lapses in the secondary. However, with that said, the Boilermakers have plenty of talent to get past the Cardinals at home.


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