College Football Picks, Predictions, and Previews: The Way It Oughtta Be

Western Michigan vs. Ball State 12/12/2020 College Football Picks, Prediction, and Preview

The Western Michigan visits Ball State on 12/12/2020 at 12:00PM.

Western Michigan and Ball State face off in an important game for both teams as every game in this shortened season with limited or no fans in attendance means more. Western Michigan has a record of 4-1 this season. Ball State is 4-1 this season. Both have players to meet and know.

Western Michigan Team Defense Preview

Western Michigan has had 57 total defensive drives this season and they yield 5.65 plays per drive. Western Michigan lets opponents run a lot of plays per drive and in the Fourth Quarter, this team could be gassed. Western Michigan has a generally average defense. Nothing too special about it, but they are capable of rising up when needed. Passing plays make up 50.93% of their opponents’ play calls.Western Michigan tends to face teams that prefer to air it out or opponents want to air it out against them.

Western Michigan opponents have struggled with running the ball and this defense has crushed the spirits of their opponents with zero or negative yard plays. 4th and Short is not a cake walk against this defense, maybe passing on 4th and Short or having some sort of RPO is the way to go here because if an Offensive Coordinator thinks that they can just line and run a Quarterback Sneak or hand it off to a tailback, they are mistaken. Opponent rushing yards attributed to their offensive line this season comes out to 2.5 yards per carry. Opponent offensive lines have been simply unable to support their running games against this defense. When it comes to getting to that second level, running backs are getting stopped. This defense does not allow themselves to be gashed. They are capable of giving up a long run, which is really demoralizing when the opposing team has the ball deep in their own territory.

Western Michigan has made the turnover belt, chain, pads, lunch pail or whatever gimmick they use change hands a lot. This is a Defense that causes pure aggravation. Western Michigan should have a sign ready for opponents near the Visitor Locker Room that says “Welcome to Hell”, this front seven is deep and they cause a lot of problems. Western Michigan is better at stopping the run than the pass this season.

Western Michigan Team Offense Preview

Western Michigan has had 54 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 4.98 plays per drive. Relatively speaking, Western Michigan is not a team that runs many plays per drive. The offense is either prone to faltering and struggles to notch first downs or extremely explosive, we will need to find out a bit more to get answers. Any defense is in for a challenge with Western Michigan, given their ability to accrue more than 5 yards on 1st Downs and their ability to convert on 3rd and 4th Downs. They put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.Western Michigan passes the football 41.64% of the time.They favor running the ball as opposed airing it out.

On first downs, getting ahead of the chains is crucial and running the ball well on first down can get a team there, Western Michigan has done a good job avoiding the negative yardage rushing plays. How effective is the offensive line given what we know about their ability to prevent negative yards on rushing plays? More than you think, thanks to the Adjusted Line Yards metric. Western Michigan can take credit for 3.51 yards per carry. This is an elite offensive line when it comes to generating a push for the running game. They know how to create creases for running backs to break loose. Playing 7 in a box may not be enough for opposing defenses, this is a great O-Line. The offensive line and running back corps deserve a lot of credit for gashing defenses with their running game like the way they have this season. They feature a relatively average explosiveness in the running game, maybe there will be a breakout rushing play, but it is not something to count on from them.

Defenses have had trouble making big, disruptive plays against Western Michigan this season. There has been a relatively good job done by this Offensive Line to prevent opposing front sevens from causing problems consistently. Western Michigan has shown themselves to be a better running team than passing team this season.

Ball State Team Defense Preview

Ball State has had 45 total defensive drives this season and they yield 5.58 plays per drive. There is not much to take away here when it comes to how many plays per drive opponents run, but they are a team that falls in the average window when it comes to plays per drive. Ball State has shown an inability to stop defenses from converting on 4th Downs and they let opponents get into manageable 3rd Down situations where an RPO may be especially deadly. Passing plays make up 53.78% of their opponents’ play calls.Ball State tends to face teams that prefer to air it out or opponents want to air it out against them.

Ball State opponents have struggled with running the ball and this defense has crushed the spirits of their opponents with zero or negative yard plays. 4th and Short is not a cake walk against this defense, maybe passing on 4th and Short or having some sort of RPO is the way to go here because if an Offensive Coordinator thinks that they can just line and run a Quarterback Sneak or hand it off to a tailback, they are mistaken. How effective are opposing offensive lines given what we know about their ability to force negative yardage rushing plays? Ball State can take credit for holding the offensive line of their opponent to 2.51 yards per carry. Opponent offensive lines have been simply unable to support their running games against this defense. This is also a team that is allowing running backs and quarterbacks to get to the second-level in an average fashion. Opponents have shown a relatively average level of explosiveness in the running game, maybe there will be a breakout rushing play against them.

Ball State has made the turnover belt, chain, pads, lunch pail or whatever gimmick they use change hands a lot. This is a Defense that causes pure aggravation. Ball State should have a sign ready for opponents near the Visitor Locker Room that says “Welcome to Hell”, this front seven is deep and they cause a lot of problems. Ball State is better at stopping the run than the pass this season.

Ball State Team Offense Preview

Ball State has had 47 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 6.38 plays per drive. When you are among the best at plays per drive, you are certainly a team that aims to wear down the opposition with a high play count or with long, physical grinding drives that eat up a lot of clock. We need to find out more here when it comes to Ball State. Ball State has shown a capability to be explosive on first and second down to avoid third downs and has converted well (relatively) on 3rd and 4th Down situations. Ball State passes the football 45.00% of the time.They favor running the ball as opposed airing it out.

Move the pile forward, falling forward, making progress, ensuring north-south running, smart Quarterback reads, well-adjusted alignments to ensure leverage, and an offensive line that is getting a great push forward are cornerstones of this offense. Based on the Adjusted Line Yards metric, which measures the amount of credit that should be ascribed to the offensive line for a rushing play, they average 3.24 yards per carry. This offensive line may be underappreciated, even though the running backs get the attention. The Ball State coaching staff really deserves credit for how they prepared this offensive line, but they could be a little bit better! This is a team that is rather above-average when it comes to gashing defenses. The threat of the run should force opposing to play more honest and assignment defensive football is a must. The breakout rushing plays are simply not happening, it is a massive reach to expect this team to bust out big rushing plays.

Defenses have had average success disrupting the flow of the Ball State Offense. Front sevens are causing an average amount of trouble for the Offense. Ball State is a better passing team than running team this season.

The Western Michigan Roster

The Players to Watch for Western Michigan

Kaleb Eleby QB 6-1 215

This season, Kaleb Eleby has put up 1426 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has thrown 1 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 212.7thus far this season. Kaleb Eleby has thrown 1 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Kaleb Eleby has 19.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 46.3 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 25.0 times this season, which puts him in the 63.12 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 4.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

La’darius Jefferson RB 6-1 223

This season, La’darius Jefferson has 465 rushing yards on 87 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 4 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, La’darius Jefferson picked up 2 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 1 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 0 receiving touchdowns this season.

D’Wayne Eskridge WR 5-9 190

This season, D’Wayne Eskridge picked up 644 yards. He caught the ball 24 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 7 receiving touchdowns this season.

Ralph Holley DT 6-2 285

The leading tackler among Defensive Tackles for Western Michigan, Ralph Holley has 26 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 8 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 98.21 percentile among Defensive Tackles. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 3 times this season, which put him in the 95.74 percentile among all Defensive Tackles in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Marshawn Kneeland DE 6-4 255.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Western Michigan, Marshawn Kneeland has 22 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 2 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 64.24 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 2 times this season, which put him in the 80.93 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Bricen Garner S 6-1 190.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Western Michigan, Bricen Garner had 43 tackles which puts him in the 91.41 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 4 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 96.51 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Bricen Garner as a ball hawker was able to pick off 0 passes this season, which puts him in the 37.97 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

Patrick Lupro CB 5-10 185

Considered the leading tackler among Cornerbacks for Western Michigan, Patrick Lupro had 26 tackles which puts him in the 85.98 percentile among Corners. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 2 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 91.5 percentile among Corners. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Patrick Lupro as a ball hawker was able to pick off 0 passes this season, which puts him in the 36.4 percentile among Corners this season.

The Ball State Roster

The Players to Watch for Ball State

Drew Plitt QB 6-2 217

This season, Drew Plitt has put up 1425 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown 5 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 152.2thus far this season. Drew Plitt has thrown 5 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Drew Plitt has 63.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 66.51 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 54.0 times this season, which puts him in the 83.8 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 2.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

Caleb Huntley RB 5-10 229

This season, Caleb Huntley has 437 rushing yards on 80 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 6 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, Caleb Huntley picked up 13 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 1 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 0 receiving touchdowns this season.

Justin Hall WR 5-9 186

This season, Justin Hall picked up 445 yards. He caught the ball 34 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 1 receiving touchdowns this season.

Joshua Tarango DL 6-2 289.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Ball State, Joshua Tarango has 8 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 2 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 64.24 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 29.35 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Bryce Cosby S 5-10 181.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Ball State, Bryce Cosby had 33 tackles which puts him in the 82.65 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 3 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 93.75 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 1 times this season. Bryce Cosby as a ball hawker was able to pick off 1 passes this season, which puts him in the 83.84 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

Amechi Uzodinma II CB 6-0 193

Considered the leading tackler among Cornerbacks for Ball State, Amechi Uzodinma II had 22 tackles which puts him in the 78.47 percentile among Corners. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 2 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 91.5 percentile among Corners. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 1 times this season. Amechi Uzodinma II as a ball hawker was able to pick off 1 passes this season, which puts him in the 81.59 percentile among Corners this season.

Western Michigan vs. Ball State Prediction, Picks, and Odds


Prediction: Western Michigan 38 Ball State 30

Spread Pick: Western Michigan +2.5 -110 Bovada
Moneyline Pick: Western Michigan +115 5Dimes
Total Pick: Under 69 -141 matchbook and Over 66.5 -108 Heritage