International Bowl Preview: Rutgers vs. Ball State Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Monday, December 31 2007
Tag it:
Furl it!
Rogers Centre in Toronto: Home of the 2008 International Bowl
The Ball State Cardinals will be making their first bowl appearance in over 11 years when they face Rutgers in the International Bowl in Toronto on January 5. The Scarlet Knights will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Greg Schiano after previously going 27 years between bowl appearances.

ib_logo.jpgJanuary 5, 2008 - Noon, ET
Rutgers (7-5, 3-4 Big East) vs. Ball State (7-5, 5-2 MAC)
Coaches: Rutgers - Greg Schiano (37-46, 7 years; 1-1 bowl games)
Ball State - Brady Hoke (22-36, 5 years; first bowl appearance)

Site: Rogers Centre (Toronto, ON)
Series: Tied 0-0-1 (Last meeting: Ball State 31, Rutgers 31 in 1989).
Television: ESPN2

BallState_Color_small.jpgScouting Ball State
Ball State sophomore quarterback Nate Davis, a second team All-MAC selection, leads a potent passing attack that ranks 21st nationally, averaging 284.4 yards per game. Davis topped the Mid-American Conference in passing efficiency, throwing for 3,376 yards and  a league-leading 27 touchdowns while tossing only six interceptions. Davis, who ranks 16h nationally in total offense, has already set a new all time record at bsu_davis_small.jpgBall State with 45 touchdown passes in his first two seasons at the helm of the Cardinals' offense. Davis has a pair of dangerous receivers at his disposal in wide receiver Dante Love and tight end Darius Hill. Love, a junior, hauled in a team-leading 87 catches for 1,229 yards and nine touchdowns. Love's average of  102.4 yards receiving per game topped all MAC receivers and placed him ninth overall nationally. Love also topped the MAC this season in all-purpose yards, averaging 197.1 yards per game. Junior tight end Darius Hill matched Love's nine touchdown receptions and led all MAC tight ends with 837 yards receiving. The Cardinals' rushing attack suffered a blow when starter MiQuale Lewis went down with a season-ending injury, a torn ACL, in Ball State's 41-40 loss to Nebraska on September 22. Prior to being injured Lewis was averaging 89.4 yards rushing per game. In his absence freshman Frank Edmonds assumed the majority of the rushing load and compiled 547 yards and six touchdowns but averaged only 3.8 yards per carry. Edmonds though played through injuries, including a broken wrist and a sprained ankle that slowed him down. Junior Chris Clancy also stepped in and ran for 103 yards against Toledo. Clancy though suffered a rib injury in the Cardinals' victory over Toledo and was limited against Northern Illinois in the Cardinals' final game of the season. Both Edmonds and Clancy however are back to full health and are expected to see action against Rutgers. Overall Ball State averaged 147 yards rushing per game. Ball State's offensive line, which averages 6-4, 290 pounds, surrendered 20 sacks during the season.      

Defense: The Cardinals are third in the country in turnover margin, averaging 1.42 takeways per game but have struggled at times in keeping the opposition in check, surrendering 418.8 yards per game which ranks 88th nationally but what may be of greater concern may be the susceptible rushing defense of the Cardinals. Ball bsu_crawford_small.jpgState has allowed nearly 200 yards (197) rushing per game and the Cardinals' rushing defense, which ranks 99th nationally, will get a serious test from Rutgers' record-shattering tailback Ray Rice. One of the top performers for the Cardinals defense this season, and someone who will be counted on to contain Rice on the edges, has been sophomore defensive end Brandon Crawford, a 31-year old ex-Marine. Crawford led the Cardinals with 17 tackles for loss and eight quarterback sacks. Crawford also recorded a MAC-leading four forced fumbles this season. The secondary of the Cardinals defense is anchored by BJ Hill, a converted tailback playing his first season as a defensive back after spending the previous two seasons on offense. Hill recorded a team-leading five interceptions for the opportunistic Cardinals' defense while hard-hitting strong safety Alex Knipp is a player that bears watching after Knipp placed second on the team with four picks and was third in tackles. Junior linebacker Bryant Haines topped the Cardinals this season with 122 tackles and his average of 10.2 tackles per game placed him sixth overall in the MAC. The Cardinals recorded 21 quarterback sacks and possessed the MAC's fourth-rated red-zone defense during the regular season. 

Special Teams: Dante Love has established himself as one of the most dangerous kickoff return specialists in the MAC and this past season averaged 23.7 yards per return which included a 100-yard touchdown return earlier this season. Love set two new MAC records this past season, recording 2,365 all-purpose yards and 972 yards in kickoff returns. Punt return duties have been handled primarily by BJ Hill who is averaging 9.6 yards per return. BSU punter, junior Chris Miller, a first team All-American, averaged 45.8 yards per punt, third best in the nation. Placekicking has been an adventure this season for the Cardinals with freshman Ian McGarvey assuming the full-time placekicking duties after Jake Hogue struggled badly through most of the season, converting on only 11-19 FG attempts. Since taking over, McGarvey has hit on 4-6 FG efforts with a long FG of 46 yards.

 Any discussion about Rutgers begins with tailback Ray Rice. Rice has set numerous school and conference rushing records and is a finalist for the Doak Walker Award after being considered among the early season Heisman Trophy favorites. Rice currently is on a seven-game streak of 100-yard or more rushing performances and has rushed for 1,732 yards this season while averaging 144.3 yards per contest, leading the rutgers_rice_small.jpgBig East in both categories. His per game rushing average is also good for third nationally. Rice has rushed for a team leading 20 touchdowns this season and has crossed the goal line 45 times in 37 games in his career. The record-setting junior, who has compiled 4,646 career rushing yards, paces an offense that averaged over 190 yards rushing per game this season. But the Scarlet Knights have also demonstrated an ability to hurt teams through the air this season as well. Junior Mike Teel is in his second-season at the helm of the Rutgers offense and has passed for 2,844 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. His favorite targets are a pair of talented wideouts who this past season became Rutgers' single-season leading receiving tandem, each going over the 1,000 yard mark in receiving. Sophomore Kenny Britt and junior Tiquan Underwood rank second and third respectively in the Big East in average yards receiving per game with Britt pulling in 92.2 yards per game and Underwood 85.7 yards per game receiving. Britt is averaging 19.2 yards per reception and leads the team with seven touchdown receptions. The offensive line, which comes in at an impressive average of 6-5, 308 pounds, has been stellar this season for Rutgers. Besides leading the way for the Big East's top rushing attack, the Scarlet Knights have only allowed ten sacks, tops in the Big East and second nationally behind only Tennessee. Senior left tackle Pedro Sosa has allowed only one sack over the past two seasons while senior right tackle Jeremy Zuttah has not allowed a sack from his position since 2005.

Defense: The Scarlet Knights boast the Big East's top passing defense, allowing only 160.6 yards passing per game this season but have only recorded a total of nine interceptions with only one player, junior cornerback rutgers_foster_small.jpgDevin McCourty, recording more than one pick. McCourty led the Scarlet Knights with two interceptions this season. Junior defensive back Courtney Greene and junior linebacker Kevin Malast share the team lead with 91 tackles apiece this season while Rutgers has two players in the top ten in the Big East in tackles for loss as both junior defensive end Jamaal Westerman (a native of Brampton, Ontario) and fifth-year senior tackle Eric Foster, have recorded 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage with Westerman also topping the squad with eight sacks. As a unit, the Scarlet Knights have recorded 35 quarterback sacks, good for third overall in the Big East and 18th nationally. Rutgers' rush defense has been solid this season as well. The Scarlet Knights have been limiting opposing runners to only 3.9 yards per carry and have also been strong on third down, allowing only 33.7% on opponents' third down conversion attempts this season which was second overall in the Big East this past season and 21st in the country.

Special Teams: Senior placekicker Jeremy Ito, a preseason All-American, has hit on 21-28 FG attempts this season and recorded a game-winning 51-yard FG against then second-ranked USF. Ito is the Big East's all-time leader with 69 career field goals. Ito also handles the punting duties for Rutgers and averaged 35.8 yards per punt this season. Sophomore WR Dennis Campbell has handled the majority of the punt returns this season and is averaging 5.5 yards per return while sophomore WR Tim Brown and freshman RB Mason Robinson have shared kick return duties, averaging 21 yards per return. But the Scarlet Knights' biggest special teams threat may be sophomore CB Devin McCourty who has blocked three kicks this season; two punts and one field goal attempt.

Analysis: Rutgers started the season with the expectation of making it to a BCS bowl game and with an outside shot at the national championship but early season stumbles against Maryland and Cincinnati in consecutive weeks erased those hopes. The Scarlet Knights finished the season losing three of their final five games and many on the team feel they have something to prove while trying to shake off what can only be classified as a disappointing season for the Scarlet Knights considering their preseason expectations. This will be the third straight bowl appearance for Rutgers but only the fourth overall in their history.

Ball State meanwhile was expected to contend for a MAC West division title and would have been in contention if not for an early season 58-38 loss to eventual MAC champion Central Michigan, the Cardinals' only divisional loss. Ball State has played a tough non-conference slate and came within an eyelash of upsetting Nebraska, falling to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, 41-40. The Cardinals have put together their first winning season since going 8-4 in 1996, which was also the last time Ball State made a bowl appearance. The Cardinals have never won a Division I bowl game.

International Bowl History
Date Result Attendance
1/6/07 Cincinnati 27, Western Michigan 24. 26,717
Rutgers Bowl History (1-2)
Year Bowl Opponent Result
1978 Garden State Bowl Arizona State L 18-34
2005 Insight Bowl Arizona State L 40-45
2006 Texas Bowl Kansas State W 37-10
Ball State Bowl History (0-3)
Year Bowl Opponent Result
1989 California Raisin Bowl Fresno State L 6-27
1993 Las Vegas Bowl Utah State L 33-42
1996 Las Vegas Bowl Nevada L 15-18


Rutgers is 27-18-1 all time vs. MAC teams while Ball State is 0-37 all-time against teams from BCS conferences.

The teams have two common opponents from this season: Navy and Buffalo. Rutgers defeated Buffalo 38-3 and Navy 41-24 while Ball State also downed both squads, defeating Navy in overtime, 34-31 and also defeated Buffalo 49-14.

Both teams possess imposing offensive attacks with Ball State's Nate Davis among the nation's leaders at quarterback while Rutgers' Ray Rice is considered by many to be the top running back in the nation. The difference will come down to defense and the Scarlet Knights appear to have the edge in that category.

Ball State relies on a controlled passing game but the Scarlet Knights possess the Big East's top passing defense, allowing only 160 yards passing per game. Meanwhile the Cardinals will have to find a way to contain Rice and will need to do better than their average of allowing 197 yards rushing per game which appears to be a very tall order.

Expect to see both teams rack up points and yardage, giving the Canadian audience an entertaining bowl game. Ball State will keep it close with its aerial weapons but the difference is likely to be the rushing attack of Ray Rice.
Rutgers 38, Ball State 31.

Statistical Comparison
Ball State
Scoring Offense
Total Offense
Rushing Offense
Passing Offense
Scoring Defense
Total Defense
Rushing Defense
Passing Defense
KO Return Average
Punt Return Average
Time of Possession
3rd Down Conversion
4th Down Conversion

Last Updated ( Monday, December 31 2007 )
< Prev   Next >


Will Ball State Qualify for a BCS Bowl?

Football - Latest News


Preview: Miami at Buffalo

03.11.2008 | Football

Experiencing election fatigue? The MAC has an election night alternative when Miami travels to Buffalo in a nationally televised contest Tuesday night in a MAC East divisional battle on ESPN2.     Read more

Basketball - Latest News


Eastern Michigan's Medlock Out for Season

01.11.2008 | Basketball

Eastern Michigan's hopes for contending for a MAC West divisional title were dealt a serious blow with the news that senior point guard Carlos Medlock is likely done for the season.     Read more