FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: BSU 4-0, WMU 0-3. Away Record: BSU 2-1, WMU 0-4. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, WMU 0-0. Conference Record: BSU 3-0, WMU 0-3. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 21-18.
GAME NOTES: Fresh of his 100th career victory as a head coach, Pete Lembo will look for No. 101 as he leads the Ball State Cardinals into Waldo Stadium for Mid-American Conference action against the struggling Western Michigan Broncos.
Lembo earned the 100th win of his career last week as Ball State held off Kent State for a 27-24 home decision. The win was the fourth in a row for the Cardinals. The only loss during that span came in week three when they were defeated, 34-27, at North Texas. Ball State's triumph over the Golden Flashes made it bowl eligible for the third consecutive season. It is currently tied for first place in the MAC West with Northern Illinois as both own a 3-0 league record.
While Lembo has a triple-digit total of wins, the 32-year old P.J. Fleck is still winless after seven games at Western Michigan. The rookie head coach watched his team suffer a 33-0 shutout loss to Buffalo at home last week to fall to 0-3 in MAC action. The Broncos have been outscored by an average of 29.7 points in their six games versus FBS opponents this season and also suffered a disappointing, 27-23, setback to FCS foe Nicholls in week two.
WMU owns a 21-18 all-time record against the Cardinals. Ball State narrowed the gap last season as it held off the Broncos for a 30-24 overtime victory in Muncie. Including that win, Ball State has won 12 of its last 13 regular season games. Coincidentally, that loss was the first of 12 over a 13-game span for WMU.
Ball State is ranked second in the MAC in scoring at 39.3 ppg, which is just over 15 more points than its allowed average. It's ability to out-duel its opposition has been powered by an unstoppable aerial attack that ranks 12th nationally with 332.9 ypg. Keith Wenning is the only FBS quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards in seven games this season. He is the 11th most productive offensive player in the nation with 331.1 total yards of offense per outing.
The senior signal caller came up in the clutch last week as he completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead with 1:29 left in regulation to lift Ball State to a three-point decision over Kent State. Snead had another stellar game overall as he pulled down 10 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Williams also got into the mix as he caught seven balls for 83 yards and a score. Jahwan Edwards was the team's leading rusher, running for 73 yards on 11 carries.
Snead has been unstoppable with a MAC-leading 867 yards and seven touchdowns on 51 catches to put himself among the elite wideouts in the nation statistically. Edwards missed the first two games of the season due to injury, but has netted 89.4 rushing yards per game and 10 touchdowns in five games. Horactio Banks has also been a problem for the opposition with his average of 5.4 yards per carry, 385 yards and five rushing scores.
Ball State's defense has held every one of its opponents besides NT under 30 points this season and are in the middle of the pack in the conference with 428.1 yards allowed per game. The Golden Flashes amassed only 407 total offensive yards against the Cardinals last week, however Lembo cannot be pleased KSU racked up 223 yards rushing. Brian Jones is the leader of BSU's defensive group with 60 total tackles. Jones has also forced two fumbles and recovered three. BSU has registered 18 total takeaways on the season.
WMU's offense is one of the weakest in the nation with a total of 304.3 yards per game that has led to only 12.9 ppg. The Broncos were shut out for the first time of the season last week without their starting quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen, who watched from the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Van Tubbergen's injury gave redshirt freshman Zach Terrell the starting nod under center for the first time in his career, but Buffalo's defense gave the rookie a difficult time as he finished 16-of-34 passing for 164 yards, with two interceptions and a pair of fumbles. Van Tubbergen had not done much better over the course of the first six games, throwing only three touchdown passes to 10 interceptions while completing only 44.9 percent of his pass attempts. He is listed as questionable for this week's game, which could leave Fleck with a rookie field general for a second straight week.
WMU amassed only 202 yards of total offense and converted only 2-of-12 third- down attempts versus the Bulls last week. There were a couple bright spots as Corey Davis led all receivers with eight catches and 92 yards and Dareyon Chance gained 54 yards rushing on only nine attempts. The Broncos have been consistently trailing this season which has made it difficult to fully utilize Chance, who contributed 78.9 rushing yards per outing in 2012.
Edwards and Banks may both put up huge numbers on Saturday against the Broncos, who are one of the worst nationally against the run and rank last in the MAC with just over 270 rushing yards allowed per game. Although it did have a difficult non-conference schedule that included road games at Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa, WMU has been just as generous in its three league bouts with a combined total for 1,402 yards allowed during that span. The trio of Justin Currie (65), Mike Jones (63) and Kyle Lark (59) have kept busy this season and all rank in the top 11 among MAC players in tackles.
Any head coach would have trouble turning this WMU squad into a competitive unit so it is not a surprise Fleck is piling up losses to start his career. The Cardinals dispatched the Atlantic Coast Conference's Virginia Cavaliers by 21 points the last time they went on the road. The Broncos are very good at defending against the pass as they rank sixth in the FBS with only 163.4 allowed yards per game. However, Ball State is far from a one-dimensional offense and its dynamic running back duo should allow it to coast to an easy win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 42, Western Michigan 7
Saturday, October 19, 2 p.m. (et)