College Football Week 11: Ball State Over Eastern Michigan In Close Game

James Gilbert in action

Monday, November 7, 2016 8:54 PM GMT

MACtion features two teams Tuesday that can use a win if they're to have any chance of making a bowl game. Ball State hosts Eastern Michigan in a game that should be close with a tiny spread. See who we like as our college football pick.

According to 5Dimes, Ball State is a 1.5-point favorite on college football odds. The Cardinals have lost four of their past five games but have been competitive in every game one except their most recent, a 52-20 loss to the ranked Western Michigan.

 

Gound and Pound

This is exactly what Ball State will attempt to do against the Eagles as they possess a 1,000-yard runner in running back James Gilbert. He has been a workhorse as he has rushed 22 times or more in each of his last five games and hit triple digits in each. This includes a 264-yard, tw-TD efffort in a victory over Buffalo. Gilbert has scored a touchdown in four of his past five and multiple touchdowns in three of them. While Ball State's defense leaves a lot to be desired, expect Gilbert to do damage against the Eastern Michigan defense -- and stopping Gilbert is the key to victory for EMU.

The Cardinals feature a solid passing attack as everyone gets involved. Leading receiver, KeVonn Mabon is one of the only receivers to not to score a touchdown, but Mabon has at least four catches in each game this season.

 

Which QB For Ball State?

Ball State has a starting quarterback controversy and last week went with junior Jack Milas. He had some success in his freshman season and, although not a given, look for him to start against a much weaker opponent in Eastern Michigan than he faced last week in Western Michigan. Milas was somewhat ineffective against the Broncos as he threw for 199 yards with a TD and two picks. Look for him to improve upon that performance as this is a much more winnable game for Ball State.

 

Roback A Star For EMU

While Eastern Michigan doesn't possess a prolific running back in the category of Gilbert, it does have the edge in this game at quarterback position with junior Brogan Roback. He has three consecutive 300-yard games and is a very efficient passer who won't force the issue.

Roback should have no problems in dealing with the defense of Ball State as he has a wide array of targets to throw the football to. Five different Eagles receivers have caught for 200 yards or more with each one of those players reaching the end zone. Second-leading receiver Antoine Porter (424 yards, four TDs) has scored a touchdown in three of his past games.

This is a very talented group of receivers led by Sergio Bailey II (614 yards, three TDs). Look for at least one of these two players to play a key role in this game as neither team possesses an outstanding defense, and the Eagles need to match the running game that Ball State has to offer with their passing attack.

 

Final Outcome

I'm leaning towards Ball State over EMU as the odds are appealing, it's playing at home, and, most important, the Cardinals' running game should dictate the tempo of this game. Ball State's record leaves a lot to be desired, but it played an AP Top 25 team in Western Michigan last week and EMU is a far cry from the Broncos.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Ball State -1.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

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