Ohio controlled its last road game at Miami. Now, it’s time for another.
Next on Ohio’s journey to the Mid-American Conference Championship is Ball State. The two teams haven’t faced off since 2019, when Ohio earned a 34-21 win on the road in Muncie, Indiana. It will be heading back there Tuesday and is looking for a similar result.
Here is everything to know about Ball State:
Mike Neu has an impressive track record at Ball State, both as a coach and a player. He played quarterback for the Cardinals from 1989-1993, earning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award in his senior season.
In a shortened 2020 season, Neu led the Cardinals to their first MAC Championship since 1996 as well as the first bowl win in program history. The Cardinals also finished the season ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25.
Ball State has not had as much success this season but is still a dangerous team. It is 5-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play. However, two of Ball State’s MAC losses were by a touchdown or fewer. One of which was against Toledo, who has already clinched a MAC Championship berth.
John Paddock has started every game at quarterback for the Cardinals this year. The redshirt junior is consistently among the top quarterbacks in the MAC, throwing for 2321 yards in 10 games this season. Paddock’s 232.1 average yards per game is fourth best in the conference, but his 115.9 passing efficiency is the third lowest.
In Ball State’s most recent game, Paddock struggled. He completed only 13 of his 35 pass attempts for 94 yards, his season low. Paddock did not complete a touchdown pass in the game and threw one interception.
Ball State is home to the player with the second-most receiving yards in the MAC: Jayshon Jackson. Jackson is right behind Akron’s Shocky Jacques-Louis with 755 yards and 75.5 average yards per game.
Jackson is Paddock’s main target when moving downfield, but not in the endzone. The senior has three touchdown catches on the season, while fellow receiver Tanner Kozial has a team-high six.
Kozial is among the three other Ball State receivers other than Jackson with over 300 yards. The others include Brady Hunt and Yo’Heinz Tyler.
Another key component of the Cardinals strong offense is Carson Steele, who has been a force on the ground this season. Steele leads the team and the conference with 1280 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season but two- the Cardinals first game against Tennessee and their win over Northern Illinois.
Steele has almost 85% of Ball State’s 1509 total rushing yards this season, as the next leading rusher, Vaughn Pemberton, has only 134 yards.
Fortunately for Ohio, its rush defense has improved over the past two weeks, holding Buffalo and Miami to a combined 91 yards on the ground.
Ball State is one of six teams in the MAC that allows over 400 yards per game; however, it’s right on the edge of that mark with 401.7. In addition, it allows an average of 27.3 points per game, while Ohio allows an average of 32 points per game.
The 2022 campaign has been the tale of two seasons for Ohio. It started off rocky with a difficult nonconference schedule, but since MAC play, Ohio has been rolling without much trouble.
The Bobcats will once again be looking to extend their five-game winning streak and retain first place in the MAC East. If they play as they have for the majority of the past five weeks, that should be no problem.