Ball State Cardinals vs #16 Texas A&M Aggies
Saturday – September 12 – 6:00 pm CT
Kyle Field – College Station
Fresh off an upset of the previously ranked #15 Arizona State Sun Devils which saw the Aggies dominate the fourth quarter and leave Houston with a 38-17 victory, A&M will face the Cardinals in a home opener which has been years in the making. The $480 million dollar Kyle Field redevelopment project is officially complete and the stadium is expected to have a sellout crowd of 102,512 in attendance. It’s no surprise that the Aggies are favored to win by more than four touchdowns but they’ll need to stay focused against a Ball State team that is coming off of a season opening win of their own last week over VMI 48-36.
What to look for when A&M has the ball
The Aggies got off to an uncharacteristiclly slow start last weekend and lacked offensive consistency both in the running and passing game. Quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray played a significant amount of time with each showing flashes of brilliance and also committing their fair share of mistakes. The fact that Kyler Murray played so many downs has to leave one wondering whether or not a QB controversy could already be brewing. Freshman wide receiver and return specialist Christian Kirk played lights out against Arizona St. catching the ball six times for 106 yards and a TD while also taking a 79-yard punt back to the house. The already budding star should put up some more big numbers but will also garner a lot of attention which could open up the possibilities for receivers Josh Reynolds and Speedy Noil to have massive games.
A&M must also take advantage of playing a much softer opponent this week as it hopes to fix some glaring holes in the ground game. The Ags are currently thin at running back and starter Tra Carson was only able to average 3.3 yards per carry in week one. That type of production will not stand when it’s time to face the big boys of the SEC. The major key on offense will be seeing who gets the bulk of the action between Allen and Murray in the early stages of the game before what should be a large amount of garbage time in the second half.
What to look for when Ball State has the ball
Pressure, pressure, and more pressure from a rejuvenated Aggie defense. A&M recorded an astounding eight sacks in the opener and the secondary showed a great ability to play solid containment defense and avoid giving up the typical big plays that have plagued them in years past. Myles Garrett has already shown up on Heisman Trophy watchlists and he wasn’t even the SEC defensive player of the week. That recognition went to the opposite defensive end, Daeshon Hall, who accounted for half of the total team sacks. Ball State quarterback Jack Milas had a very nice debut going 34/52 through the air for 338 yards and one touchdown. The majority of offense came on the ground as the Cardinals racked up 229 yards and five scores. Things won’t come near as easy this week against a maroon and white unit that will continue to improve under new defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Kyle Field will be absolutely electric with a fireworks show scheduled and all sorts of other planned activities to help usher in the new era of the famed stadium. A&M moved up an astonishing fourteen spots in the ESPN power rankings from where they started a week ago, the biggest jump by any team in the nation. If they are the real deal then they should run away with this one the moment the ball kicks off.
Prediction: Texas A&M 52 – Ball State 17