Penn State vs. Ball State Game Predictions
After surviving a tough test last week against Wisconsin, the Penn State Nittany Lions return home to welcome in the Ball State Cardinals. Like the Nittany Lions, Ball State also found itself 1-0 after the first week of play, defeating Western Illinois 31-21.
The Cardinals are, by no means, an easy opponent for the Nittany Lions, as they currently have seven votes to enter the top 25. They ended their season last year with two wins over ranked opponents, beating Buffalo in the MAC Championship and San Jose State in the Offerpad Arizona Bowl.
This game will be played at Beaver Stadium where fans will be in attendance at a Penn State home game for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. The Ball State game will also kick start a four-game homestand for the Nittany Lions.
Will the home-field advantage be too much for Ball State to handle?
Let’s see how the CommRadio sports staff thinks the game is going to go.
This game is a big chance for the Nittany Lions to break out offensively.
Penn State showed in the second half against Wisconsin it can put drives together but now against Ball State, the opportunity is there to show what this new Mike Yurcich-led offense can do.
If the Cardinals can allow 367 passing yards to Western Illinois quarterback Connor Sampson, imagine what Sean Clifford can do against that defense. Clifford showed he can air the ball out against Wisconsin, as he connected with Jahan Dotson on several deep routes which was not a big fixture of the Penn State offense last season.
While Ball State has pulled off quality wins in the past, that success has not translated into wins in the Big Ten.
Most recently, the Cardinals gave Indiana a run for its money to open up the 2019 season before falling 34-24. While that Indiana team did go on to finish 8-5 and make the Gator Bowl, that team ended up losing to Penn State 34-27 during the regular season.
Sean Clifford has a chance for a career day in this matchup while the ground game should be able to pick up momentum which will be much needed for the Nittany Lions game at Auburn the following week.
Penn State 38, Ball State 10
After a tough, but successful, weekend at Camp Randall Stadium, the Nittany Lions moved up eight positions in the College Football rankings.
Seeking to enter the top 10, the Nittany Lions will face a Ball State team that finished at the No. 23 spot last season, putting together arguably its finest performance in program history.
In their first game, the Cardinals showcased a run-heavy offense led by redshirt senior Will Jones and freshman Carson Steele. This one-two punch has a slight resemblance to what Wisconsin put up against Penn State in terms of versatility, but the bigger concern for the blue and white is keeping an eye on Justin Hall, who is Ball State’s Jahan Dotson.
The winning formula for the Nittany Lions is aggression and energy from the kickoff to the final whistle. Establishing the run game is key, but it always comes down to quarterback Sean Clifford, a player that has something to prove on every single snap he takes. Labeled by students as a “second-half team” Penn State will surely turn things around now that fans are back in the stands, it might just be what they have been missing.
Prediction: Penn State 42, Ball State 13
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Penn State a 93.8% chance to win Saturday’s contest; however, this won’t be a walk in the park for the Nittany Lions.
Even though Penn State knocked off No. 12 Wisconsin on the road, the blue and white struggled to move the ball offensively. The Nittany Lions racked up just 50 rushing yards, and a majority of Sean Clifford’s 247 passing yards came on a few key plays.
Penn State needs to find a way to fire on all cylinders offensively.
On the other side of the ball, look for the Nittany Lions to use their great defense to jumpstart their offense.
Penn State forced three Badger turnovers on Saturday, and multiple players became key playmakers. Arnold Ebiketie quickly became a fan favorite by disrupting Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz and anchoring the Nittany Lion defense.
Look for Ebiketie to play a big role for the Nittany Lions against Ball State.
The Cardinals of Ball State are better than many think, and Penn State can’t underestimate this foe on Saturday.
The blue and white will get past the Cardinals, but it won’t be a breeze.
This is a trap game for Penn State – a team that struggled to move the ball last week and has a major game the following weekend.
Penn State 24, Ball State 10
The Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Ball State Cardinals after a successful Saturday on the road last week in Wisconsin. The Cardinals move forward into the contest following a win against Western Illinois.
The quarterbacks and leading receivers for each team had valuable contributions that propelled their squads to victory. Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson connected more than once with the deep ball, while Drew Plitt and Justin Hall were a dynamic pair that caused problems for the Leatherneck defense. Both teams earned a respectable, and impressive, victory.
The major factor that will give Penn State the edge, and ultimately a dominant win, will be the level of competition. The Nittany Lions are accustomed to playing, and defeating, some of the best teams in college football, unlike the Cardinals. Even with the struggles at the beginning of last season, Penn State still managed to have convincing wins against teams that are above Ball State’s level. Penn State’s experience level, along with home-field advantage and momentum off a win against a ranked Wisconsin, are all obstacles Ball State will need to overcome.
Upsets happen, but not in this case, as Penn State wins by a significant margin before looking to the Saturday-night date with Auburn the following week.
Prediction: Penn State 45, Ball State 14
Logan Bourandas is a third-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan Mendez is a second-year student majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Eric Fenstermaker is a fourth-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neil Conley is a fourth-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Third-Year / Broadcast Journalism
Senior, fourth-year / Broadcast Journalism
Second-year / Journalism
Juan S. Mendez is a second-year student from Sogamoso, Colombia majoring in journalism at Penn State University. He is a frequent CommRadio contributor through play-by-play and production for Penn State sports, primarily soccer. As a writer and podcast member, he also contributes in covering the NFL, NBA, international soccer, college sports, and occasional music reviews. Bilingual, and with a substantially dispersed knowledge, Juan intends to work covering multiple sports internationally in English and Spanish at a professional level.
Senior / Broadcast Journalist
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior from Northampton, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is also minoring in business and sports studies and pursuing a certificate in sports journalism.
Eric is involved in After the Whistle and Penn State Sports Night (PSSN). For COMM Radio, Eric contributes to a variety of different podcasts and co-hosts the Hail Mary radio show, which is dedicated to analyzing NFL games.