Ball State University, undefeated and No. 14 in the BCS rankings, will be the highest ranked team to ever play at Yager Stadium.
“They’re going to score some points,” Miami University head coach Shane Montgomery said. “They’re a much better team.”
In 2007 the RedHawks beat Ball State in Muncie, Ind. 14-13 to kick off the season on their way to a MAC East title. Unfortunately for the ‘Hawks, that was then, and this is now.
In 2007, the RedHawks weren’t poised to finish at the bottom of the barrel in MAC. At that time, the RedHawks’ offense was getting more than an average of 326.1 yards a game, as they are in 2008. Last year, the Cardinals weren’t a potential BCS Buster-they were happy just to make it to the International Bowl.
In 2008, the Cardinals are one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, scoring more than 30 points in all but one game this year.
“They’re very good on offense and they’re clicking right now,” Montgomery said. “Even though they lost Donte Love this year, they’ve really been picking it up, and it starts at the quarterback. He’s one of the best we’ve faced in a number of years. He’s really confident. He’s really accurate. We just cannot let him sit back they’re and pick us apart.”
This week is the second week in a row that the RedHawks will be playing on national TV in the MAC’s weekly Tuesday night game on ESPN. Last week, the Red and White played in a disappointing effort against the University at Buffalo which the RedHawks lost 37-17.
This time around will be even tougher for the RedHawks. Ball State is undefeated and on a roll. This season the Cardinals are outscoring their opponents 345-138. The RedHawks meanwhile have been outscored by their opponents 278-165.
“We have to make some plays on offense,” Montgomery said. “When we get a chance to make some plays we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to score some touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.”
The RedHawks aren’t counting themselves out of the game though. While Miami may be the 16.5 point underdog, the team doesn’t think an upset is out of the questions.
“We’ve got the same group on defense, and they’ve got the same group on offense so we just have to play like we did last year,” defensive captain and senior linebacker Joey Hudson said.
Hudson isn’t the only one who thinks that Miami can come away with the win.
“I’m just ready to play because I think we can upset them,” freshman running back J.R. Taylor said.
Taylor has been one of the few bright spots in Miami’s last few games. In the 54-21 homecoming loss to Kent State University, Taylor busted through the Flashes’ defense to accumulate 113 yards rushing on just 20 attempts. Last week, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 16 touches, and three weeks ago at Bowling Green State University, Taylor ran all over the Falcons, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on 18 rushes.
The biggest question for the RedHawks heading into Tuesday’s game is the defense. Miami’s 2008 defense has struggled to stop the big play, and allowed the University at Buffalo’s James Starks to run for more than 175 yards, including a 65-yard charge in the fourth to seal the win for the Bulls.
“We’ve got to play more physical,” Hudson said. “We’re not where we thought we’d be right now, but we can’t let that get us down. We’ve just got to come out and play football because we love it.”
Miami kicks off against Ball State at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Yager Stadium. Tuesday’s game will be aired on ESPN2, as well as ESPN360.com