BSU PREVIEW: Two Days and Counting

Indiana (2-0) faces its toughest test of the young season Saturday night when it hosts Ball State (3-0) at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. HoosierNation.com continues its day-by-day preview of the contest with a look at two of the Hoosiers' biggest concerns as they prepare for their third meeting in three years against the Cardinals...

Can the Hoosiers make the Cardinals one-dimensional?
Note to IU football fans – Nate Davis is going to put up good passing numbers Saturday. The Cardinals' quarterback is too talented and has too many weapons to not have a degree of success throwing the ball Saturday night, and IU co-Defensive Coordinator Joe Palcic knows that.

"We can be in good coverage this week, and he's still going to complete some balls downfield on us," Palcic said. "We have to be alright with that, and not give him the big touchdowns. He's going to make plays. We're going to be right there, and he's going to put a ball where we can't get to it, and that has to be okay."

What won't be okay is if Ball State is able to balance its success through the air with the same sort of proficiency on the ground. Cardinals' tailback MiQuale Lewis is averaging 121.0 yards/game rushing this season, and Ball State is averaging 181.0 yards rushing as a team. Those a marked improvement from the last two years, when Ball State averaged 91.9 yards rushing in 2006 and 148.9 in 2007.

Indiana has topped the Cardinals the last two years in large part because its limited them to 54.0 yards rushing/game, which has enabled IU to withstand the 317.0 yards/game passing Ball State has put up. Priority one for IU's defense will be to slow down Lewis early, force Ball State to the air, and allow its pass rushers to try to get some pressure on Davis.

Can the Hoosiers come up with more big plays Saturday? –
With Indiana averaging 38.0 points/game and Ball State countering with 41.3 per outing, points figure to be plentiful Saturday evening in Memorial Stadium. Both teams have displayed big-play potential on offense, as four of IU's 10 touchdowns have came on runs of at least 30 yards, while seven of Ball State's 15 touchdowns have come on plays that originated outside the red zone.

Big plays figure to be a big part of the game Saturday, and this is a battle that Indiana needs to win. Offensively, tailback Marcus Thigpen and quarterback Kellen Lewis have both shown home run abilities on the ground, but IU would also like to add that to its aerial attack as well. In its first two games IU's longest pass completion has been 26 yards, and Lewis has rarely looked deep against Western Kentucky and Murray State. The return of Ray Fisher could help the Hoosiers produce a big gainer in the passing game, while the continued development of Demarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss could also result in more opportunities downfield this week. The Hoosiers have also been relatively conservative in their play calling during its 2-0 start, so don't be surprised if IU opens up its playbook a little more this weekend.

On the other side of the ball Ball State has big-play potential of its own, but the Hoosiers' defense is also more than capable of coming up with a game-changing play. Defensive ends Greg Middleton, Jammie Kirlew and Ryan Marando are all very capable of getting pressure on Davis, while Chris Phillips and Nick Polk are the most likely members of IU's secondary to make something big happen with an ill-advised pass.

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


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