7-5 (3-4), 5th Big East
7-5 (5-2), 2nd Mid-American - West
January 5, Noon, ESPN2
The International Bowl in Toronto is one of the filler bowls between now and the championship game on Monday. Rutgers comes into the game after losing their last one against Louisville. The Scarlet Knights did not have the magical season, like in 2006, but going to another bowl is only helping the team on the recruiting front. Ball Stater comes into the game riding a two game winning streak, but if you examine their schedule you will see that none of their 7 wins came against teams from BCS Conferences. This will be the their first meeting since their 1989 game, which ended in a tie.
On offense, the Scarlet Knights are led by Junior Ray Rice, who ran for 1732 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Rice only needs 62 yards to break his career high for yards in a season. To be honest, he should have no problem doing that against a Ball State team that gives up over 192 yards per game on the ground. Rice is the meat of the offense, but quarterback Mike Teel's play usually tells you if it will be a win or a loss for the Knights. This season has been a bit better for Teel as he threw for 2844 yards with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, down from last year. But not all the blame could be placed on Teel, he has some help now with quality receivers like Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood. Both of which had over 1000 yards receiving and a combined 13 touchdowns. On defense, the Knights are 2nd in the country against the pass and 13 in total defense. Gaining yards will be tough for Ball State in this game.
Ball State's offense relies on their passing game, and they'll be going up against the strength of the Rutgers defense. Nate Davis is the Cardinals' quarterback and this year he has thrown for 3376 yards and 27 touchdowns. His two top targets are Dante Love and Darius Hill who have combined for 2100 yards and 18 touchdowns. But unless Ball State can get a running game established in this game, they are going to have a tough time moving the ball on Rutgers. On defense I already mentioned that Ball State is not good against the run, but they are second in the country in turnover margin and have 18 interceptions within their secondary. So they could force Teel to make some bad decisions and capitalized on them.
In five bowl games Ball State is 0-4-1 while Rutgers is going to its third consecutive bowl game after only going to one before that in their existence. We all remember the Cardinals coming one extra point away from beating Nebraska in Lincoln, but we found out later that Nebraska wasn't very good, while Rutgers has some impressive wins on their resume over South Florida and Navy. I expect Rutgers to win mainly because of their balance and the fact that Ray Rice will have a field day against this porous Ball State run defense. The only question remaining is, will this be Ray Rice's last game at Rutgers? Rutgers 35 Ball State 17
Picking Rutgers to Win
ITB Brian Sakowski, Sportsbone TV, Rizzo Sports, MizzouRAH, MidWest Coast Bias, The Enlightened Spartan, Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks, ITB Charlie Swager, ITB Ron Juckett, Football Frontier, The LSC Scoop, Corn Nation, Pitch Right, Kansas It's Business Time, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, Greg Gowins, Lorena The Dodgerchick, Pete Boivin, Jason Stiver, Cyril Tircuit, Rodney Polston, Jeff Brancolini, Richard Dixon, Mrs Corn Nation, Brian Isaacson, Logan Jaffe, Brant Chruscial, Matt Kieta, Dan Schoonover, Lou Nemec, Timmy B
Picking Ball State to Win