BALL STATE: Three Days and Counting

Bloomington, Ind. - Indiana (5-4/2-4) steps out of conference to take on Ball State (5-4/3-2) at Memorial Stadium with bowl eligibility for both on the line. HoosierNation.com looks at three key match-ups in this contest...

Ball State WR Dante Love vs. Indiana CB Tracy Porter – The 5'10", 176-pound Love is the top target of Cardinal quarterback Nate Davis, and it will likely fall to Porter to keep him in check. That won't be an easy task, as Love leads Ball State in receptions (59), receiving yards (789) and touchdowns (7). He's also had a couple of huge games this fall, including a 10-catch, 214-yard effort at Nebraska and a 11-catch, 101-yard performance at Western Michigan. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, are no stranger to his abilities after he caught a game-high nine passes for 80 yards in IU's 24-23 win in Muncie last season. Indiana counters with Porter, a player who has been playing some of his best football as of late. He's averaging 7.3 tackles in his last three games, and he's recorded a team-best four interceptions this season. Both of these players could also be factors on special teams – Love is averaging 24.7 yards/kickoff return and has returned one for a score, while Porter ranks 21st nationally on punt returns with a 12.9 yards/return average.

Indiana WR Andrew Means vs. Ball State CB B.J. Hill – B.J. Hill leads the Cardinals with five interceptions, but it's hard to imagine Ball State putting the 5'7", 180-pounder on 6'6", 225-pound James Hardy. Instead, Ball State will likely use 6'0", 194-pound Trey Lewis and a safety on Hardy, and allow Means to go one-on-one with Hill. That could lead to a third straight big game for the Hoosiers' sophomore wideout. In the last two weeks Means has totaled 14 receptions for 135 and quarterback Kellen Lewis has been looking to him more and more. He's caught 38 passes for 396 yards on the year, but hasn't gotten into the end zone yet. That could very change this weekend.

Indiana OL vs. Ball State DL - It's hard to throw many names up here because it's unclear who will be ready to go for Indiana. Other than left tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Jonathan Sandberg, each of the other line positions remain up in the air. At right tackle, IU is hoping to have Charlie Emerson back in the starting lineup after a two-game absence. At center the staff is hopeful usual starter Ben Wyss can play, but a back injury sent him to the sidelines against Wisconsin, and he's not expected to practice much. If he's unable, third-string center/converted tackle Alex Perry will make his first start. Finally at left guard, Pete Saxon is hoping to make his 10th straight start, but he left the Wisconsin game with a shoulder and is availability is also in question. No matter who is on the field, Indiana needs a big effort from the front five against a Ball State defensive line that hasn't been very stout against the run. Ball State's defense has yielded an average of 260 yards rushing in its last four games, including 324 last week to Illinois. Indiana's line will have a noticeable size advantage against the Ball State front four, which has only one starter who weighs more than 250 pounds (5'11", 270-pound nose tackle Rene Perry). It will give the Hoosiers' front five a chance to open plenty of holes for Marcus Thigpen, Bryan Payton and Josiah Sears as Indiana tries to get its ground game untracked.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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