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Friday, September 25, 2009

Auburn-Ball State breakdown

Ball State (0-3, 0-0 MAC) at Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
  • Where: Auburn, Ala.
  • When: 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Fox Sports South
  • Last meeting: Auburn 63, Ball State 3, Sept. 17, 2005, in Auburn
Ball State: The Cardinals' offense has sputtered without current NFL quarterback Nate Davis running the show. Ball State has averaged only 14.3 points a game against sub-par competition, and running back MiQuale Lewis, who ran for a school record 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns last year, has been slow out of the gate, with 141 rushing yards in three games.

Auburn: The Tigers didn't crack the 500-yard barrier against West Virginia, but they still managed 400 yards of offense, making it the first time since 2004 that they've topped 400 yards in each of the first three games of a season. Auburn is fourth nationally, averaging 42.3 points per game.

EDGE: Auburn
Ball State: This unit hasn't fared all too bad this year. In a 24-17 loss to Army, the Cardinals only allowed 267 yards of total offense, although 207 of that came on the ground, which doesn't bode well against run-heavy Auburn. The Cardinals top two tacklers from a year ago — safeties Alex Knipp and Sean Baker — are back.

Auburn: The Tigers are coming off their best turnover game in recent memory, forcing six against West Virginia. The linebackers, in particular, stood out. Craig Stevens was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high 11 tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown. Josh Bynes added 12 tackles, 10 of which were solo stops.

EDGE: Auburn
Special teams:
Ball State: Punter Scott Kovanda has gotten his fair share of work, punting 17 times with a 42.6-yard average, ranking 31st nationally. The Cardinals' punt return team has given them next to nothing, averaging only 2.5 yards per return.

Auburn: The Tigers' special teams took a step forward last week. Anthony Gulley has gained the coaches' trust, making punt returns of 17 and 7 yards against West Virginia and not having any problem catching the ball. Place-kicker Wes Byrum is 5-for-5 this season, with four of his field goals coming from longer than 40 yards.

EDGE: Auburn
Ball State: Stan Parrish has been a successful coordinator several times in his career, but he's not had as much luck as a head coach. He currently has a 31-game winless streak as a head coach, dropping the first four games of his Ball State tenure and going 0-26-1 in his final 27 games at Kansas State in the mid-80's.

Auburn: Gene Chizik already has more wins this year than he did in his final year of Iowa State. A win this week would put him one short of his career total entering the season (5). He's won 18 consecutive games as a member of Auburn's staff, dating back to his time as defensive coordinator in 2004.

EDGE: Auburn
Key matchups:
Offense: Auburn LT Lee Ziemba vs. Ball State RE Robert Eddins: Eddins has been disruptive this year, with three sacks and eight tackles for a loss, the most in the nation. Ziemba will have to guard Chris Todd's blind side.

Defense: Auburn defenders in the box vs. RB MiQuale Lewis. Tackling has been an issue in the first few games for the Tigers, who coaches have said need to be more aware of their angles and position on the field. Lewis, a 5-foot-6, 193-pound pinball, should provide a challenge.
Prediction: This one shouldn't be close. It would have been a great matchup last year (actually, Ball State might have run away with a game last season), but this year it's a mismatch, plain and simple. Expect all the players Chizik allows to dress to play in the game. Auburn 52, Ball State 10.

1 comment:

Jim Rome said...

Great stuff. Just found your blog....nice work!