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Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Ball State Cardinals Preview and Prediction

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This Election Day you have a big choice to make. Will you watch Eastern Michigan look to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 or stick to your preferred cable news outlet to watch the election results come in from around the country? For the college football junkies out there, the choice is simple. Vote MACtion every time.

Eastern Michigan at Ball State

Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

Spread: Ball State -4

Three Things to Watch

1. Somebody has to snap a losing streak

Both Eastern Michigan and Ball State enter Tuesday night’s game having lost two straight games. The Eagles have dropped two straight against Western Michigan and Miami (Ohio), and have lost three of their last four games after starting the year 4-1. Ball State has lost four of its last five, including last week’s 52-20 loss at home against Western Michigan.

Ball State has won two straight games at home against Eastern Michigan, each by double digits. Ball State also has five straight wins in the series.

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2. Ball State’s James Gilbert leads MAC in rushing

Look for Gilbert to continue adding to his rushing totals this week. The Cardinals’ sophomore running back leads the MAC in rushing yards (1,142) and rushing touchdowns (11). Gilbert averages 5.44 yards per attempt and has shown no signs of slowing down by carrying the football an average of 23 times per game. The Eagles rank 51st in the nation against the run (152.4 ypg), which is a significant improvement from last year when they were 128th in the nation (out of 128 FBS programs).

3. The battle in the trenches

Which team will have the advantage on the line of scrimmage? When Eastern Michigan has the ball, it could be a good battle. Ball State is second in the MAC with 24.0 sacks this season (trailing only Ohio’s 35.0), but Eastern Michigan has allowed just 10 sacks in nine games. When Ball State has the football, the Cardinals may have the upper hand as Eastern Michigan is not known for generating a ton of sacks (16.0 this season, no more than two in a game since Sept. 23 vs. Wyoming).

Final Analysis

One of the biggest negatives about Ball State has been its turnover margin. The Cardinals enter Tuesday night’s game with a minus-7 turnover margin, second-worst among MAC programs (Bowling Green is at an astounding -17). Eastern Michigan has had a good number of passes intercepted but the defense also has created opportunities this season, leading to the Eagles breaking even in the turnover department. Look for Eastern Michigan to create an edge in the turnover battle after not having a negative turnover margin in a game in three straight games. That should lead to quarterback Brogan Roback to lead a couple of offensive drives for scores and help the Eagles get out of town with a big win to clinch bowl eligibility with two more games to play.

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Prediction: Eastern Michigan 27, Ball State 24

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter@KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook

(Top photo courtesy of Eastern Michigan Athletics)