On Wednesday night (11/1/23), Ball State faces Bowling Green in a fascinating midweek MAC game. In this article, find the latest betting odds for this matchup as well as a full breakdown of the game. In addition, find our Ball State vs. Bowling Green best bet which is Ball State +5.5.
Ball State Cardinals Vs. Bowling Green Falcons Prediction
Midweek MACtion is back! This Wednesday night matchup between Ball State and Bowling Green offers plenty of intrigue, especially for fans of running the football – both of these teams rank in the top 60 in the FBS in rush play rate. So which run game has the upper hand? Let’s dive in.
It’s been a tough start to the year for Ball State who just earned its first FBS win of the season, but a brutal start to the schedule featured matchups against Georgia and Kentucky. Injuries earlier in the year tested the team’s depth, but they’re trending up in health, especially on the offensive line where center Ethan Crowe and guard Jon Mucciolo are back in the lineup.
Those two interior offensive linemen are huge for a run-heavy offense. Ball State has cycled through two ineffective quarterbacks this season and is onto third-string redshirt sophomore Kiael Kelly. While Kelly is a very inefficient passer, he’s a talented runner averaging 5.3 YPC. His presence makes life easier for Marquez Cooper, a hyper talented running back who should probably be playing for a Power Five team.
Bowling Green had to replace its top two defensive linemen from last season, Karl Brooks and Walter Haire, and the results have been disastrous as they’re bottom five in defensive stuff rate. They also rank just 100th in rushing success rate allowed. I expect both Kelly and Cooper to have success on the ground here.
The Falcons feature one of the best running backs in the Group of Five in Terion Stewart. He has 100+ rushing yards in four of his last five games and is averaging 6.1 YPC this season. Ball State’s run defense has been solid, though, with a deep defensive line group. Their secondary has struggled, but Bowling Green has virtually no passing game.
I expect both rushing attacks to have success in this MAC affair, but I see value on Ball State in this matchup. Bowling Green has an unsustainable +10 turnover margin in its four wins, and the Cardinals are capable of keeping within the number so long as they take care of the football. Let’s bet on Ball State, who has the better run defense in this game, to hang within the number and perhaps pull off the outright upset.
Ball State Vs. Bowling Green Prediction: Ball State +5.5
Ball State Vs. Bowling Green Best Odds
Bowling Green is currently favored by 5.5 or 6 points at home depending on the sportsbook you are using. Keep in mind that 3 and 7 are the most key numbers in betting football spreads, so this spread is in a bit of a dead range. The over/under has been bet down a bit to 39.5 after opening at 41.5.
Ball State Vs. Bowling Green Key Matchups
As I mentioned above, it’s all about the run game on Wednesday night, and both Ball State and Bowling Green have talented running backs who will be featured. Let’s break down those top rushers and the matchups they’re facing.
Marquez Cooper Vs. Bowling Green Run Defense
As part of the mass exodus of talent at Kent State this offseason, running back Marquez Cooper transferred to Ball State. I expected him to end up in the Power Five, but the Cardinals are happy to have him. Cooper is coming off one of his best games of the season with 26 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 prior to the team’s bye.
Bowling Greeen has had virtually no push on the defensive line this year, ranking bottom five in stuff rate. Linebackers Joseph Sipp Jr. and Darren Anders have limited explosive runs with strong second level tackling, but Cooper should be able to routinely generate 4-5 yards on carries and help the Cardinals keep the chains moving.
Here’s Marquez Cooper (@quez__15)’s diving TD run from today.
He was dominant with 162 rushing yards pic.twitter.com/oTwrkOqBXZ
— Gus Martin (@GusMartin_SP) October 22, 2023
Terion Stewart Vs. Ball State Run Defense
After sitting out of the 2022 season for personal reasons, Terion Stewart has returned with a vengeance. The 5’9”, 225 lb running back is a nightmare for opposing defenses as he’s simply impossible to tackle. His 70 missed tackles forced lead the FBS by far while he ranks fifth among qualified running backs with 4.78 yards after contact per attempt.
Ball State’s run defense has been solid all year, and they rank top 50 in rushing explosiveness allowed as well as PFF’s team tackling grades. The Cardinals feature a trio of stout run stopping linebackers in Cole Pearce, Keionte Newson, and Joey Stemler. Maintaining integrity in gap assignments will be crucial against Stewart, who can take over games on his own.
Bowling Green RB Terion Stewart…he had 4 or 5 plays like this vs Georgia Tech. pic.twitter.com/diCWGUAeLy
— Brad Powers (@BradPowers7) October 4, 2023