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1-3 Ball State has only played current members of the Mountain West Conference four times – all in bowl games – and has a 1-3 record in those postseason matchups. The Cardinals defeated San Jose State 34-13 in the 2020 Arizona Bowl. Ball State lost 27-6 to Fresno State in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl, lost 42-33 to Utah State in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl and lost 18-15 to Nevada in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl. UW improved to 9-4 all-time against Mid-American Conference teams with last week’s 50-43 win at Northern Illinois.

3 Isaiah Neyor had shown flashes of brilliance in his eight previous games for the Cowboys but never reached the end zone. The dynamic wide receiver scored three touchdowns during Wyoming’s 50-43 victory at Northern Illinois. Neyor had four receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 13 yards and a score. He also caught a 2-point conversion to cap off his breakout game.

11 Xazavian Valladay finished with 101 yards rushing at Northern Illinois, which marked his 11th career 100-yard rushing game. He currently ranks seventh on UW’s career rushing list with 2,389 yards and needs 144 yards to pass Shaun Wicks (2,533 yards, 2012-16).

20 Ball State returns 20 starters (10 on offense, 10 on defense) from the 2020 team that finished 7-1 with a MAC championship and the program’s first bowl victory. UW also returns 20 players with starting experience (10 on offense, 10 on defense) after finishing a disappointing 2-4 during the abbreviated MWC season. Both teams return all five starters along the offensive line. The unit that performs the best will likely walk of the field victorious.

53.9 Craig Bohl promised more balance on offense this season and first-year coordinator Tim Polasek has delivered, at least in terms of yardage through the first two games. UW’s passing game has generated 53.9% (400 yards) of the team’s total offense (742 yards). The running game, which the team leaned on in 2020 when Sean Chambers missed all but three plays with an injury and Levi Williams was playing with an injured throwing shoulder, has accounted for 342 yards (46.1%). Polasek has called 49 pass plays and 88 runs so far.

271 The Cowboys intercepted Rocky Lombardi three times but gave up 233 yards on the NIU quarterback’s 16 completions (14.6 yards per). Now they will face Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt, who needs just 126 passing yards Saturday to eclipse 7,000 career yards. His favorite target, wide receiver Justin Hall, leads all active college players in career receptions with 271 and has recorded at least one catch in all 45 games of his career. Hall needs 87 yards against the Cowboys to pass Dante Ridgeway (3,030 yards) as the all-time leading receiver in Ball State history.

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This article originally ran on trib.com.


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