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No. 15 Northern Illinois Huskies vs Ball State Cardinals Preview

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The No. 15 Northern Illinois Huskies take on the Ball State Cardinals in an epic MAC matchup on a Wednesday.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This is the big one folks. This is the one we've been waiting for. National exposure on ESPN2 at 7 PM tonight if you're wondering how you can watch the game. Not too hard this week as the MAC mid-week games take their shape.

NIU will be sporting patriotic uniforms in this one, which will be auctioned off for charity. Jim freaking Cornelison will be singing the National Anthem so that's motivation in itself to check this game out while a whole bunch of veterans are going to be honored on Brigham Field.

The Battle for the Bronze Stalk

Ball State this season is 9-1 with their only loss being an odd 27-34 one at a North Texas Mean Green squad in Denton. The Cardinals were able to matchup on most aspects on the field except for they gave the ball away 5 times on offense. The Cardinals pretty much should be undefeated. But who have they faced this season? Illinois State, Army, North Texas and Virginia (the ACC's Purdue) aren't much of a competition.

They did take out Toledo at home 31-24 to set up this epic in-conference matchup. They're the only viable MAC team they've beaten which is a tough thing to find nowadays.

What happened last year?

The Huskies escape with a 35-23 victory in Muncie. The Huskies were down 14-23 at one point but Jordan Lynch led the team back and Jordan Lynch accounted for 402 rushing yds including 3 TDs on the ground. Ball State is an extremely well coached team by Pete Lembo and we are lucky they are playing in Huskie Stadium this year.

Ball State Offense

Ball State's offense is ranked 24th in the nation with 475 ypg and the passing game has been the key to the success of this side of the ball. Keith Wenning is the top passing leader in the MAC with 316 ypg and he also has the top QB rating. He has 27 TDs and only 5 INTs on the season with a completion % right behind Lynch at 63%.

Wenning's favorite target is the speedy 5'11" Willie Snead who is tops in the MAC with 117.5 ypg and 12 TDs. The 6'2" Jordan Williams isn't too far behind with 80 ypg and 8 TDs on the season.

RB Jahwan Edwards is not bad himself rushing for 12 TDs with a modest 93 ypg good for 7th in the league.

Ball State Defense

This where the team starts to have some issues. This side of the ball is ranked 84th in the nation and 96th against the run. Jordan Lynch should have a field day against these guys. Their pass defense is good though, ranking 28th in efficiency.

DE Jonathan Newsome is somebody to watch out for as he has recorded 6 sacks and 8.5 TFL on the season so far for the Cardinals. DT Nathan Ollie has 8 TFL himself as well.

LB Ben Ingle and SS Brian Jones lead the team with tackles with 78 & 77 a piece. CB Jeffery Garrett has 5 INTs on the season.

Game Strategy

This is mid-week #MACtion action, so anything can happen in this one. The Huskies will try and run the ball against a pretty weak Cardinal run defense and that should work out with the way Lynch has been running things on offense. You never know against Ball State though and how well this team is coached. The NIU D will be tested.

Watch out for the weather though it is supposed to be 28 degrees and 18 mph winds out there. May put the ball in favor of the team that runs more than passes.

Ball State is the scariest coach in the MAC and I could see this being a very close one in Huskie Stadium.

What are your predictions for the game tonight?