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Beef O Brady Bowl
Get ready for a lot of MAC football this bowl season. Ball State is just one of seven MAC schools to be playing in a bowl game this year. That's what happens when you get a team going to a BCS bowl, the rest of the schools moves up a notch. There's no reason to complain about it though as with most MAC schools, the Cardinals deserve to be here.
With a 9-3 record, Ball State comes in riding a six-game winning streak which includes wins over Ohio and at Toledo. Both of them were ranked at some point this year. Early in the year, they also grabbed wins over Indiana and South Florida. While those teams aren't great by any means, they still play in the big conferences. Their only out of conference loss came at Clemson which is to be expected. Their only in conference losses were to the top teams. They basically won every game they were supposed to.
You can say the same thing about Central Florida, which is why this could be a great game. The Knights have a 9-4 record, with one more loss due to the C-USA Championship game. Their losses came against Ohio State, Missouri and two very close ones against Tulsa, both on the road. They don't have the out of conference wins like Ball State, but their level of competition was a little harder.
The Knights come into this game as 7-point favorites and only a 6-7 ATS mark on the year while the Cardinals are 9-3 ATS, covering in five of their last six games.
UCF is led by Blake Bortles at quarterback who is posting solid numbers. He has 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. In his last five games he has eight TDs and zero INTs. They have a balanced all-around attack on offense. Even in the receiving game, no one has more than 562 yards or four TDs. Their ground game is sufficient led by Latavius Murray who has scored in eight straight games. He also has 1,035 yards even though he's only played in 10 games this season. His worst games of the year came in the losses against Tulsa.
While they may play in a weaker conference, the Knights defense is still a tad better. As a small school, you don't allow only 31 points and 21 points to Ohio State and Missouri respectively, unless you have a solid defense. Ball State on the other hand, has had problems with their defense. They give up over 30 points per game and have not really contained any team's offense this year. The fewest points they allowed in a game was 22, and that was against a 2-9 Army team. UCF allowed less than 22 points seven times this year. Although, doing that against an unfamiliar opponent and possibly unfamiliar QB will be even harder.
The big question for this game will be the status of quarterback Keith Wenning. He fractured a bone in his ankle back on Nov. 14 and is still uncertain to play in the bowl game. Kelly Page came in for Wenning and did just fine throwing for three TDs and no picks in two games of work. Unfortunately, it's not that easy to replace a three-year starting QB just like that. Page is a senior, so he has experience, just not a lot of it. The Cardinals will likely lean on running back Jahwan Edwards even more if Wenning can't go. Edwards has turned it on in the past six games, running for more than 100 yards per game to go with nine total TDs.
Nothing strong here as we have this game right around the number. When in doubt with a bowl game, take the dog. Ball State +7
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