Central Michigan is now bowl-eligible as it stares down a showdown with Ball State.
Although the Chippewas are still a longshot in the Mid-American Conference race, they are riding some momentum.
Can that momentum continue when they hit the road on Wednesday night for a clash with the Cardinals in Muncie?
Central Michigan at Ball State: MACtion Football Odds
Oddsmakers like Ball State over Central Michigan at home
Central Michigan finds itself as a slight road underdog against Ball State this week.
Oddsmakers at most Michigan sportsbooks are listing the Cardinals as a 2.5-point home favorite against the Chippewas.
The moneyline for CMU is listed at +110 to +120, while Ball State sits at -130 to -150.
The over/under total was ranging as of Monday morning from 62 to 63.5 points.
Central Michigan has covered in three of its past four games and is now 5-5 against the spread on the season. The over has hit in the past three CMU games, but the over and under have each hit five times over CMU’s 10 games this year.
Ball State has failed to cover in its last three games, and the Cardinals are just 3-7 ATS this season. The under has been the play in Ball State games. It has hit seven times and in each of the past three for Ball State.
These two have met 53 times in their history. Remarkably the record for both is 26-26-1.
How to watch: Central Michigan Chippewas at Ball State Cardinals
- What: Central Michigan (6-4, 4-2 MAC) at Ball State (5-5, 3-3)
- When: 7 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Nov. 17
- Where: Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind.
- TV: ESPNU
- Online livestream: ESPN+
- Radio: CMU Sports Properties Radio Network
Chippewas overcoming poor starts
Starting fast hasn’t been a move for CMU in recent outings, but it hasn’t kept the Chippewas from winning.
They fell behind 14-0 to Western Michigan two weeks ago, but came back to win 42-30.
Last week, Central again fell behind 14-0 to Kent State, but dominated from there for a 54-30 victory.
With the victory, head coach Jim McElwain has the Chippewas bowl-eligible for the second time in three seasons. Last year, in a season affected by COVID-19, CMU went 3-3 after going 8-6 in McElwain’s first season.
In the win over the Golden Flashes, Central Michigan put up another strong offensive number of 505 total yards. It was a balanced effort ,with 284 passing yards and 221 rushing yards.
CMU now ranks in the top 30 nationally in both total offense (449 yards per game) and passing yards (282.9 ypg).
Daniel Richardson was efficient, throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns on 21 of 27 passing. He spread the ball out, as no CMU receiver had more than 61 yards.
Lew Nichols III was a workhorse throughout the game, carrying the ball 43 times for 215 yards and four scores of his own. Nichols III is now up to 1,297 yards and 11 scores on the season, which came into the weekend second nationally.
Defensively, CMU continues to struggle against the pass. The Chippewas allowed 322 yards through the air to Kent State. On the season, CMU ranks 118th nationally in pass defense, giving up 276.2 yards per game.
Ball State blows lead to NIU
Similar to CMU, Ball State blew a lead against Northern Illinois and lost by a point last week.
The Chippewas blew a 35-18 second half lead to fall 39-38 to NIU. Ball State led the Huskies 26-17 in the third quarter and ended up losing 30-29 on a 32-yard field goal as time expired.
Ball State struggled to stop NIU throughout the night, allowing 475 total yards, including 211 rushing yards.
The Cardinals have had problems defensively all year, allowing 408.9 yards per game in total and 248.4 passing yards per game.
Offensively, Ball State hasn’t been much better. The Cardinals average only 25.6 points and 347.7 yards per game.
Against the Huskies, Ball State had a big day on the ground with 246 rushing yards. Carson Steele had 109 yards to lead the way, while Justin Hall added 79 rushing yards with two touchdowns.
Quarterback Drew Plitt wasn’t very effective against NIU. He was only 11 of 26 passing for 126 yards with a touchdown. On the year, Plitt has 1,902 yards passing with 15 touchdowns.