BALL STATE PREVIEW: One Day 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 its prediction for the outcome of Saturday night's contest...

Bloomington - Don't let Indiana's 4-0 record against Ball State and 32-4-1 mark against Mid-America Conference teams fool you – the Hoosiers will have their hands full against the Cardinals.

The high-octane BSU offense has been scoring better than 40 points per game in getting off to a 3-0 start, and it is receiving votes in the most recent AP Top 25 poll. Some have speculated that Coach Brady Hoke's team has a chance to run the table and make a BCS bowl.

IU's players and coaches are equally aware of the test they'll face Saturday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

"We have a tremendous challenge in front of us," said IU Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada.

The Hoosiers' biggest challenge will come on the defensive side, where they'll have to try to hold quarterback Nate Davis, wide receiver Dante Love and running back MiQuale Lewis in check. Indiana has surrendered only one touchdown in its first two games, but this contest represents a very different challenge than what Western Kentucky and Murray State offered up.

"I think they're a significant step up, especially from a defensive standpoint because their offense is pretty spectacular," IU's co-Defensive Coordinator Joe Palcic said. "They're averaging 41 points a game and their quarterback is completing 75 percent of his passes."

Adding fuel to Ball State's fire will be the back-to-back losses to IU in 2006 and 2007 and the fact that it's once again a chance for the Mid-America Conference to get a statement win against the Big Ten.

"They're motivated, and probably even more so since we're the state school," said Palcic.

Palcic knows the feeling. Before coming to IU, he both played for and coached with Terry Hoeppner at Miami (Ohio), and the Redhawks had a handful of memorable wins during Palcic's time in Oxford, Ohio.

"At Miami as a player and as a coach, we called these sort of games tomahawk victories," Palcic said. "As a player I beat Virginia Tech when they were 12th in the country, we beat North Carolina, Northwestern. It's a good feeling to know you can beat those schools…they'll want to come down and beat Indiana."

Will the Cardinals be able to get it done? While both teams come into the contest with high-powered offenses, ultimately it should be Indiana's defense that enables the Hoosiers to come away with a third straight win against Ball State.

Both teams have playmakers on offense, but Indiana has the sort of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball that should be able to come up with a couple of big plays and critical stops that will ultimately decide the winner in a game that figures to be high scoring. Greg Middleton, Jammie Kirlew and Ryan Marando give IU three legitimate pass rushing threats who can apply some pressure on Davis, and Ball State doesn't have the same sort of threat on the defensive line.

Indiana also has some big hitters linebacking corps and secondary, and they will try to make their presence known early on.

"We need to out-hit them," said safety Joe Kleinsmith, who will likely start at strong safety in place of Austin Thomas. "We need to be physical."

Look for big numbers from Kellen Lewis and Nate Davis, and some big plays from both offenses. But in the end, Indiana should be able to come away with a big win that will send them into next week's Big Ten opener 3-0.

HoosierNation.com's Prediction: Indiana 38, Ball State 27

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


Keep up with the Hoosiers for less than $10 per month!! Sign up for a 7-day Free Trial to HoosierNation.com to what you've been missing. You'll get recruiting updates, recruit videos, expert commentary, breaking news - everything you need from HoosierNation.com!! Try it for seven days...FOR FREE!!

Peegs.com Top Stories