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November 23, 2006

Preview: Kent State at Ball State

II Game Story With Sidebar
Kent State at Ball State
Friday, Nov. 24, 2006
12:00 p.m. EST
Scheumann Stadium -- Muncie, Ind.

(Natural Grass/Capacity 22,500)

THE SERIES
Ball State and Kent State have met 22 times in a series that dates back to the 1977 season. Ball State owns a 17-5 all-time series advantage and has won 12 of the last 13 contests overall and the Cardinals are 8-3 against Kent State at home. The two teams last met in 2003 when Ball State posted a 34-17 win at Kent State's Dix Stadium. The teams have not played in Muncie since the 2001 campaign when the Golden Flashes tallied a 31-18 victory.
QUARTERBACKS
Kent State
Advantage
Ball State
In 10 games sophomore Julian Edelman has completed 115 of 207 passes (55.6%) for 1,678 yards and nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions (167.8/game). He's equally as dangerous on the ground as he is Kent State's second leading rusher with 563 yards on 148 carries.
Ball State
Freshman Nate Davis has started seven games for the Cardinals and he's been nothing short of spectacular. He has completed 134 of 216 passes (62%) for 1,707 yards and 17 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
RUNNING BACKS
Kent State
Advantage
Ball State
Redshirt freshman Eugene Jarvis averages over 80 yards per game. He has carried 174 times for 809 yards but has scored just three touchdowns. Tony Howard will spell Jarvis. The sophomore has carried 78 times for 262 yards and two scores. Both backs have combined for 17 receptions for 139 yards.
Kent State
Kent State has rushed for 1,817 yards. Ball State has accounted for just 916 yards on the ground. The Cardinals average less than 90 yards per game on the ground. If the Cardinals run, it will likely be fifth-year senior Larry Bostick carrying the football. He's carried 115 times for 422 yards and one touchdown this season. Bostic is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. He has 40 catches for 307 yards.
WIDE RECEIVERS
Kent State
Advantage
Ball State
Ball State features three receivers with 37 catches or more. Kent State has one, Najah Pruden. Pruden, a senior, has 37 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns. Like last year, Pruden continues to be the only big-play threat the Flashes possess. Tight end Tom Sitko is second on the team with 15 receptions.
Ball State
Sophomore Dante Love has quickly become one of the MAC's most dangerous pass catchers. This season he has hauled in 47 passes for 660 yards and four scores. Running back Larry Bostic is second on the team with 40 receptions. Tight end Darius Hill has 37 catches for 625 yards and 10 touchdowns, most on the team.
DEFENSE
Kent State
Advantage
Ball State
Kent State's defense has been a strength this season. The Golden Flashes allow just 19.2 points and 288.2 yards per game (139.2 on the ground/149.0 passing). The secondary will be tested by a high-powered Cardinals offense that features a standout wide receiver and a running back/tight end that see plenty of balls thrown their way. Kent State's secondary has combined for 12 interceptions and they'll need to force some turnovers against a young Ball State quarterback.
Kent State
Ball State allows 27.5 points and nearly 500 yards per game. The Cardinals give up 184.0 rushing yards and 264.8 passing yards per game. Fortunately, Ball State has an offense that allows them to remain competitive in each game. The Cardinals will be forced to shut down the running game of quarterback Julian Edelman and force him to put the ball in the air.
SPECIAL TEAMS
Kent State
Advantage
Ball State
Kent State has hit on just 2 of 10 field goal attempts and 26 of 29 extra points. Add the punting woes against Ohio and the Golden Flashes have been looking for answers on special teams. Kent State has a net punt average of just 30.0 yards. Shawn Bayes has shown some explosivesness on kick returns, but he has yet to return one for a score.
Ball State
Ball State has a net punt average of 41.5 yards, an important statistic when playing against a team with an inconsistent offense. The game against Kent State could be determined by field position, and the Cardinals punting game has been terrific so far this season. Terry Moss averages over 20 yards per kick return. Brian Jackson has hit on 14 of 16 field goals with a long of 52 yards.
PREDICTION

Kent State hasn't been the same since a bye week interrupted its five-game winning streak that ended when Ohio University defeated the Golden Flashes 17-7 at Dix Stadium in Kent. Since that defeat the Golden Flashes lost two of its next three games and now they are in a battle to keep alive their hopes of appearing in a post-season bowl game.

Behind freshman quarterback Nate Davis, the Cardinals have been struggling to maintain consistency, though the offense hasn't scored less than 20 points since Oct. 14.


Ball State's defense has allowed plenty of yards on the ground and through the air. That's good news for the Golden Flashes since the Kent State offense hasn't found its rhythm. Kent State will likely look to establish a strong rushing game and limit the amount of third and longs Edelman will face.

The Kent State defense will be relied upon to pressure Davis and stop the three-headed receiving monster of Love, Bostic and Hill.

Special teams certainly favors the Cardinals. In a defensive struggle field position will play a key role and the ability to convert field goals might determine this game.

Kent State has the possibilty of a bowl game at stake and it's senior day for the Cardinals, so both teams have plenty of motivation to play hard for four quarters.

Two weeks ago, Ball State traveled to Michigan as 34-point underdogs but gave the Wolverines all they could handle in a 34-28 loss to the team ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Kent State's defense will make this a close game, but the Cardinals have an impressive passing game, special teams in their favor and it's the final game for the Ball State seniors; not a good recipe for a Kent State win.

Ball State 24, Kent State 20



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