2017 Illinois vs Ball State

Posted on August 30, 2017. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Sporting News | Tags: , , , , |

Illini host MAC’s Ball State in opener

September 1, 2017

PrezRo
compiled by Prez Ro
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Game Preview

Broadcast, TV, Game Time
Date: Saturday, Sept. 2nd
Game Time:12:00 pm ET
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Network: BTN

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Illinois, there’s no reason to not start out hot. Or is there? Time for week one actions….

Illinois is (1-0) all-time against the Ball State Cardinals. There last (and only) meeting was in 2007, Illinois won 28-17 at Memorial Stadium. Ball State is (3-36-1) against teams in the Big Ten. All three wins have come against the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington -or- Indianapolis.

Not to start the season being over confident about the Illini or to appear condescending, but we all know there’s still work to be done on an inconsistent offense from last season, and the defense that needs fine tuning.

This week, Mike Neu’s Ball State Cardinals will travel to Champaign to open their season with the Fighting Illini. The MAC West’s worst team a year ago, Ball State comes into the 2017 campaign after posting a 4-8 record last season. While that’s not anything to brag about, it should be noted that 4 of the 8 losses the Cardinals had were by 7 points or less (2 were by 3 points or less).

The Ball State offense creates big holes to roll through, and that’s not a plus for an Illinois defense needing to overcome the loss of all four starters up front. They can flat out run the football and having a quarterback as mobile as Riley Neal makes that an easier feat to overcome. Neal was the third best rushing QB in the MAC, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, totaling 543 yards, and scoring 8 touchdowns. In the backfield is James Gilbert, who ran for 1332 yards (3rd in MAC) averaging 5.3 yards per carry (8th in MAC) and 12 touchdowns (T1st in MAC) in 2016. If there’s one thing that Illinois needs to defend against on Saturday, it’s the run.

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On contrast, Illinois did not defend against the run well last season. Ranked 103rd in the nation in average rushing yards surrendered (219.2 yds/g), Ball State’s experienced rushing attack will cause some problems for the Illini on Saturday. The good news though, is that Illinois has a new JUCO transfer starting at linebacker in Del’Shawn Phillips. We will see how Hardy Nickerson will have his defense prepared to handle the Cardinal run-game…

In short, the Illini must win this opener against Ball State but as we know, it will not be easy. The Cardinals will be a tough competitor who will not lay down and surrender. With Western Kentucky and a trip to South Florida up next, nothing is given to this Illini team and they must show up and play four quarters.

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2016 MAC Preview

Posted on August 31, 2016. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

2016 MAC Preview

August 31, 2016

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compiled by Prez Ro
follow back at @PrezRo365

You want diversity? You want a contrast in styles? You want a fascinating mix of superstar offensive talents mixed in with just enough solid defensive teams to keep things interesting? Well the MAC is all about that this year!

The conference always boasts the haves and have-nots, with a gaping disparity between the elite and not-so-elite, yet this time around, the conference should be a bit more even. The coaching is strong, there’s plenty of star power at quarterback, and the division races are as unpredictable as they’ve been in several years.

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Last year Bowling Green didn’t field a defense and still won a MAC championship by outbombing everyone. Head coach Dino Babers is now in Syracuse and quarterback Matt Johnson is gone, but the offense should still be dangerous enough to contend.

Contrast the Falcons with Akron, the breakthrough team of last year that dominated on defense. Kent State had absolutely no offense whatsoever, ruining a fantastic campaign for a phenomenal defense. Now the Zips have to rebuild and the Golden Flashes have to hope they have some way to move the ball to keep up with the other high-powered stars in the division.

The other day I heard the ‘MAC East is the kids’ table.’

They may have taken the championship last season, but the league’s four best teams are in the West – PERIOD. So I agree.

Western Michigan is about to be devastating. Quarterback Zach Terrell leads a potentially unstoppable offense that should be an automatic 30-point-per-game machine, while the defense gets seven starters back and should be good enough to get by.

AP Poll

Northern Illinois will have a healthy quarterback this season – something it didn’t field late last year when the team was ravaged by key injuries – and now the offense is back to its normal high level. It’ll have to be considering Toledo isn’t going anywhere despite the loss of head coach Matt Campbell to Iowa State. The rushing tandem of Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson should be as productive as any in America.

Central Michigan has the high-rising quarterback in the NFL Draft world in Cooper Rush, and the defense that finished 16th in the nation welcomes back eight starters – this might be the most complete team in the MAC.

Ball State should be among the league’s most improved teams with Mike Neu taking over a veteran squad, while Eastern Michigan will try to keep the program afloat as the sixth-best team – by far – in a six-team division.

Besides the championship game, of course, we believe the MAC Football Game Of The Year will be Toledo at Northern Illinois (in Chicago at Guaranteed Rate Field aka U.S. Cellular Field) Nov. 9. As good as Toledo has been over the last several years, why hasn’t it been able to break through and become the star of the MAC? NIU has won six straight in the series.

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Here is our overall MAC Predictions….

EAST

WEST

1. Ohio

2. Bowling Green

3. Buffalo

4. Akron

5. Kent State

6. Miami University

1. Western Michigan

2. Northern Illinois

3. Toledo

4. Central Michigan

5. Ball State

6. Eastern Michigan

Western Michigan should be the star of the West, and it gets both Toledo and Northern Illinois at home making the showdown between the Rockets and Huskies in Chicago all but an elimination game.

As we have stated, the MAC West is the toughest to predict as the battle should come down to Western Michigan against Northern Illinois, and the battle will be decided October 8… winner of this contest should win the West. And since the Broncos nor the Huskies play Ohio, who should win the East… whew – should be an exciting game in Detroit December 2.

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2014 BIG Ten – Week 2

Posted on September 8, 2014. Filed under: NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Week 2…

September 6, 2014

BIG games this week across the board…

The Big Ten went 8-5 in Week 2, and we learned some things in the process. Brace yourself; this won’t be pretty.

Aside from Wisconsin-LSU, the rest of the Big Ten games were blowouts, narrow escapes against inferior teams, or upset losses. Week 2, I argued, would show what the Big Ten was capable of. Oh, did it ever.

Western KentuckyWKentucky 34, Illinoisillinois2014 42

For the second straight week, the Fightin’ Illini came back to snag a victory. This week, it was against stingy Western Kentucky.

WKU led 17-14 at the half, but then Wes Lunt carried the load, or should we say passed the load, by going for 456. Illinois scored three times to take a 42-27 lead in the fourth quarter and survive a last-minute score by the Hilltoppers. It’s not pretty, but Tim Beckman’s team is 2-0.

Central MichiganCMichigan  38, Purduepurdue2014 17

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. – a sloppy loss for the Boilermakers at home against the MAC.

It was the (Cooper) Rush / (Thomas) Rawls show for the Chippewas (2-0). Rush tossed 2 TD passes, while Rawls ran for two. He finished the game with 31 carries for 155 yards, while Rush finished 11 of 16 for 172 yards with one interception.

It wasn’t even close. Another spark for the visitors came from former Mount Carmel player, Brandon Greer, who returned a 57-yard interception back for the for the first score of the game. Then in about 2-mintues later, Anthony Rice broke a tackle and scored on a 65-yard catch-and-run (14-0).

The Boilermakers got on the board when Danny Etling took the ball in from 4 yards out making the score 14-7. A few series later Rawls scored from two-yards out before halftime making it 21-7. Home team couldn’t get any closer than that.

The Chippewas beat a Big Ten foe for the second time in three seasons and improved to 6-23 against teams currently in the conference.

Purdue (1-1) failed to get its first 2-0 start since 2007 and still hasn’t opened a season with back-to-back wins over Football Bowl Subdivision opponents since 2005.

HowardHoward 25, Rutgersrutgers2014 38

The Scarlet Knights led 31-7 at the half. Despite the late scores and routinely porous defense, Rutgers was the most impressive of the noon teams.

 

Akron 3, Penn State 21

You can say Penn State played down to visiting Akron, as they only had a 7-0 lead at halftime, but the Nitanny Lions got their roar in the second half to get the W.

McNeese State 24, Nebraska 31

Ameer Abdullah came to the rescue for Nebraska in an incredible last-minute touchdown reception saving the Cornhuskers from total embarrassment against McNeese State.

The Cornhuskers let McNeese State hang around far longer than they should have. Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a lazy out route that McNeese returned 98 yards for a tying score. Nebraska’s offensive line couldn’t give Abdullah holes, and McNeese tied it at 24 with four minutes remaining. With only 20 seconds remaining, Abdullah had a sensational tackle-breaking run after catch to spare Nebraska from ignominy.

NOTE: In the absence of Braxton Miller, the “Abdullah for Big Ten MVP” bandwagon is looking pretty good.

Western Illinois 37, Wisconsin 3

The game began in a weird fashion with a safety on Western Illinois’ opening kickoff return. The Badgers led 2-0 for most of the half, as neither Melvin Gordon (17 carries for 38 yards) nor Tanner McEvoy could produce. At least McEvoy recovered after halftime, completing 17 passes in a row and finishing with three touchdowns, but it was a shaky performance for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin seemed a little out of sorts through the entire first half, but recovered in the second half to produce a deceptively perilous final score.

 Ball State 13,  Iowa 17

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Maryland 24, USF 17

Maryland was supposed to beat South Florida easily. Instead, the Terrapins had six giveaways and had to rely on a blocked punt in the fourth quarter to put away the Bulls.

Middle Tennessee 24, Minnesota 35

Once again Minnesota was out-gained by an opponent, and once again it won by double digits. Minnesota built a 28-0 lead and rode out a rough second half to beat Middle Tennessee.

Unlike Iowa, Minnesota coaches know their strengths (David Cobb, their star running back, is a powerful workhorse) and weaknesses (Mitch Leidner can’t pass) and craft an optimal offense around those limitations. It’s going to get tiring calling the Golden Gophers opportunistic every week.

Northern IllinoisNIU  23, Northwesternnorthwestern2014 15

In spite of Northwestern’s collapse against Cal in the season opener, the Wildcats were a 5 point favorite coming into this game. Go figure!

Like last week, the Wildcats were down early to a 23-7 lead and just couldn’t come back. In short, Northwestern was trounced on the line of scrimmage by a MAC team, an awful sign for Big Ten play.

Michigan Statemichiganstate2014 27, OregonOregon 46

The Ducks were trailing in the third quarter, 27-18, against Michigan State until Marcus Mariota flipped the ball to Royce Freeman (89 yards, 2 scores) and the flood gates opened up. From here, they went on to score the first of four unanswered touchdowns to knock out the Big Ten from a west coast victory.

Mariota went 17/28 for 318 and three touchdowns.

Michigan State was lead by 29/47 for 343 and 2 TDs / 2 INTs.

Michiganmichigan2014 O, Notre DameNotreDame 31

The Irish are for real. After seeing them week one against Rice, there game play was lowered saying who they played, but tonight, whew…. the Irish jumped out early and often knocking off what many thought was the hottest team in the Big Ten in a complete shutout.

Everything went Notre Dame’s way.

Wolverine’s Devin Gardner had four giveaways, including a pick six at the final whistle that didn’t count in the final score and resulted in him getting dinged up. Michigan running backs averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

This game also marks the last game in the Michigan-Notre Dame series, and possibly the rivalry.

NOTE: the Wolverines scoreless for the first time in 30 years.

Virginia TechVaTech 35,  Ohio Stateohiostate2014 21

Michael Brewer passed for two touchdowns on Saturday night and Virginia Tech’s defense stood tough at the end as the Hokies stunned the eighth-ranked Buckeyes 35-21.

”I still have confidence that we have enough skill on this football team to get by people,” Meyer said.

Indiana Bye Week

Stay tuned for next week when the Big Ten’s Week 2 winners try to restore a shred of the conference’s credibility. Iowa-Iowa State, Maryland-West Virginia, Minnesota-TCU, Illinois-Washington and the very first Big Ten game in Rutgers history ought to be worth watching.

 

“BIG TEN HELMET STICKERS 4 the Week”

BIGTen-Helmet

OFFENSE: Wes Lunt, Illinois
DEFENSE: Drew Ott, Iowa
SPECIAL TEAMS: N/A
FRESHMEN: N/A

 

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