Ball State, which went 12-0 in the regular season last year, enters Saturday’s game at 0-5.
With convincing wins the past two weeks, the Owls are riding high and looking to make a name for themselves in the Mid-American Conference. A win this weekend at Ball State would keep them perfect in the conference before they host Army for Homecoming. Here are three things to watch this weekend as the Owls look to continue their winning streak:
Three in a row?: After starting off the season with two losses, the Owls answered back with consecutive wins over Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. A win over Ball State on Saturday would put the Owls over .500 and at 3-0 in the MAC.
Keep feeding him the ball: It seems that coach Al Golden has found his feature back. Freshman running back Bernard Pierce carried the ball 25 times for 180 yards with two touchdowns. After scoring his first career touchdown against Buffalo, Pierce has rushed for 299 yards on 45 carries the past two weeks. The Owls need to run the ball to be effective, and Pierce is showing that he can handle the load.
Riding high: The Temple offense seems to be gaining some strength, but it’s the defense that still drives opponents crazy. After forcing five turnovers against Buffalo, the defense allowed two field goals and a late, meaningless touchdown while holding Eastern Michigan to just 50 yards rushing. If the Owls can put pressure on Ball State and force some turnovers, Temple should be 3-2 by Saturday evening.
Perfect on a different front: Last season was a successful one for the Cardinals, as they finished the regular season ranked 12th in the nation with a 12-0 record. Behind then-senior quarterback Nate Davis, Ball State lost its undefeated season with losses to Buffalo in the MAC Championship and Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl. It’s been a different result in 2009, as the Cardinals have started off the campaign 0-5.
Spreading the wealth: The Cardinals do not have a feature running back. In last week’s 37-30 loss to Toledo, senior MiQuale Lewis rushed for only 24 yards with a touchdown. Lewis and company need to be able to run the ball on a tough Temple run defense if they want a shot at competing.
Paging some consistency: The loss of Davis to the National Football League leaves the Cardinals with freshman Kelly Page as their starting quarterback. Page has struggled so far this season, completing less than half of his passes to go along with five touchdowns and six interceptions. Page needs to avoid turning the ball over against an Owls defense that has produced five interceptions the past two weeks.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.