Ball State vs. Western Michigan Odds, Picks: Expect a Low-Scoring Battle in the MAC (Oct. 9)
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kaleb Eleby.
- Drew Plitt and the Ball State Cardinals take on Kaleb Eleby and the Western Michigan Broncos in Saturday afternoon MAC action.
- The Cardinals, the defending MAC champions, find themselves as significant underdogs heading into this matchup.
- Alex Hinton breaks down the MAC game below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis.
Ball State vs. Western Michigan Odds
|Ball State Odds||+12.5|
|Western Michigan Odds||-12.5|
|Moneyline||+360 / -490|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
In 2020, the Western Michigan Broncos started off 4-0 before a loss to Eastern Michigan.
The following week, Western Michigan traveled to Ball State with a trip in the MAC Championship game on the line. The Broncos controlled the game in the first half before building a 14-point lead. However, Western Michigan collapsed in the fourth quarter and fell 30-27.
It was Ball State that would go on to win the MAC West division and the conference championship. The Cardinals also beat San Jose State in the Arizona Bowl to finish the season 7-1 and ranked in the top 25.
That could have been Western Michigan.
The Broncos will enter this year’s matchup again 4-1 and with revenge on their minds. Western Michigan leads the all-time series 23-21 and has won five of the last seven meetings.
Ball State vs. Western Michigan Betting Preview
Ball State Offense
The Cardinals have not looked like the defending MAC Champions to begin the year, particularly on offense.
The bright spot offensively for Ball State is all-purpose receiver Justin Hall, who leads the team with 31 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. He also is the best thing that Ball State has running the football with 104 rushing yards on 6.9 yards per carry.
When someone other than Hall runs the ball, the Cardinals average 2.98 yards per carry. As a result, the Cardinals rank 95th in Rushing Success Rate and 79th in Line Yards.
Ball State has been even worse throwing the ball, ranking 124th in Passing Success Rate.
Quarterback Drew Pitts is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt with four touchdowns to three interceptions.
Ball State Defense
Defensively, Ball State runs a 3-4 and it is anchored by strong-side defensive end Tavion Woodard, who leads the team with 4.5 sacks.
It is a bit of a mixed bag for Ball State up front. The Cardinals are seventh in Line Yards and have the 28th-best passing rushing grade, according to PFF. However, the Cardinals are also 95th in Rushing Success Rate.
That is what makes Ball State’s upset over Army even more surprising. The Black Knights came into the game averaging 344.5 rushing yards per game, but the Cardinals held them to 213 yards on 3.5 yards per carry.
Perhaps Ball State will be able to build on that in this matchup. It will have an advantage in Line Yards against Western Michigan.
Western Michigan Offense
Last week, the Broncos got another fine performance from quarterback Kaleb Eleby against Buffalo. Eleby was 21-of-33 for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
For the season, he’s completing 62.3% of his passes for 1,181 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
When Eleby needed a big play, he turned to Skyy Moore, who hauled in 11 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns last week, a performance that earned him MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Eleby has excelled at protecting the football this season, and his team has followed suit. The Broncos are second in the FBS with the fewest turnovers (two).
One thing that has not transferred over to this season for WMU is creating explosive plays, ranking 87th in Big Play Rate.
Western Michigan Defense
When Ball State travels to Kalamazoo, it will meet an improved Western Michigan defense. The Broncos rank 23rd in total defense and give up 299.8 yards per game.
However, it has been aided by the offense’s pace and turnovers.
I’ve mentioned the Broncos excel protecting the football, but they’re also 115th in plays per minute. That has allowed the Western Michigan defense to only be on the field for 54 plays per game.
When the defense is on the field, it has excelled in taking the ball away, entering this game in a tie for 13th with 11 turnovers forced and tied for fifth in turnover margin.
The Broncos have two studs on the defensive line in defensive end Ali Fayad and defensive tackle Ralph Holley. The duo is a big reason why the Broncos rank 18th in the FBS in Havoc.
Ball State vs. Western Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ball State and Western Michigan match up statistically:
Ball State Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
Western Michigan Offense vs. Ball State Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Ball State vs. Western Michigan Betting Pick
If you were following along last week, the Broncos got us a cover (I hope you were able to get -6.5).
This week, I am taking the under.
Ball State ranks 129th in creating big plays and is going to have a hard time driving the length of the field against Western Michigan’s defense. When Ball State does have scoring opportunities, it probably will not capitalize on them since it ranks 109th in Finishing Drives.
Ball State is also capable of making things difficult on Eleby. The Cardinals are 10th in Passing Success Rate defensively and 28th in pass rush.
Western Michigan is 26th in Finishing Drives but if it has to settle for field goals, it may leave empty-handed. The Broncos’ kickers have made just three of seven field-goal attempts and rank 130th in special teams overall.
The under has hit in four of the first five games for both teams. I expect that it will be five out of six after this one wraps up.