Army Black Knights vs. Ball State Cardinals Picks and Game Preview - 10/02/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 5 p.m. ET, October 2, 2021
Venue: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN
Where to watch: ESPN+

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Army -10
BetMGM: Army -10
Caesars: Army -10

Season record
Army: 4-0
Ball State: 1-3

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Army - Ball State preview and analysis

Recent form
Army: won 23-10 vs. Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 25
Ball State: lost 22-12 vs. Toledo on Sept. 25

It's the first time since 2014 that the Army Black Knights and the Ball State Cardinals are meeting, but recent history dictates the home team is the play here.

The home team has won of the last six meetings straight up while is 4-2 against the spread. The last time these programs met in 2014, Army had a 17-point lead and almost let it get away to only win by nine points.

Much like in 2014, the option is still alive and well with Army. The Black Knights are 4-0 for the first time in a long while and are coming off a 13-point win over the Miami-Ohio Redhawks. Outside of the season-opening victory against the Georgia State Panthers, Army has not been a kind ATS team at home.

Army got a three-point win over Western Kentucky, followed that by not covering against the lowly Connecticut Huskies, and covering by just under a touchdown by defeating Miami (OH) last week.

It hasn't been as easy of a time with Ball State. Other than the 10-point win in Week 1 over Western Illinois, it's been all bad; ranging from a 31-point loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, to the Wyoming Cowboys lassoing them up for a 33-point loss.

Ball State is coming off a 10-point loss to the Toledo Rockets. Don't forget how close they came to knocking off the Notre Dame Fighting Irish; it's a talented offense that put up 444 yards with 272 of them on the ground.

That's not what you want to see out of your run defense before facing Army. Ball State's defense has allowed nearly 190 rushing yards per game with Army's option attack entering the weekend rank 18th with 344.5 rushing yards per game. Army had 6.1 yards per carry and had a 384-28 edge on the ground.

Ball State's run defense, as a whole? 230 yards given up on the ground per game.


Army hasn't been 4-0 since 1996. That was the year the Knights started 9-0 and wasn't coming close to a national championship. It's still unfathomable territory for Army to be in this position, and a seventh win over a MAC team in its last eight overall sounds like a good spot this week. Army by 17

Betting trends

Army is 16-3 in its last 19 straight up as a favorite.

Ball State is 9-5 ATS as a home dog.

Players to watch

Army: This season Tyrell Robinson is the lead running back to watch for the Black Knights. He has 215 yards and two touchdowns this season. Him and QB Christian Anderson have become a talented 1-2 punch in the run game with the 18th-best ground attack in the country. Time of possession is their best friend.

Ball State: Will Jones is right behind Carson Steele in rushing with 178 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Christian Anderson -- 187 yards, 3 TD
Rushing: Christian Anderson -- 431 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Braheam Murphy -- 72 yards, 1 TD

Ball State:
Passing: Drew Plitt -- 614 yards, 2 TD, 3 interceptions
Rushing: Carson Steele -- 183 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Justin Hall -- 289 yards, 2 TD

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Army - Ball State prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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