NCAAF: Ball State Cardinals vs Penn State Nittany Lions Prediction, Odds and Preview - 09/11/2021

by James Q

NCAAF:  Ball State Cardinals vs Penn State Nittany Lions Prediction, Odds and Preview - 09/11/2021

Game Time: 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, September 11th, 2021
Venue:  Beaver Stadium, Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Where to Watch:  FS1


Opening NCAAF Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings:  Spread:  Penn State -22; Over/Under:  54 points
BetMGM:  Spread:  Penn State -22; Over/Under:  54 points
PointsBet: Spread:  Penn State -22.5; Over/Under:  54 points

Season Record

Ball State: 1-0  (Mid-American)
Penn State: 1-0  (Big Ten)
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Ball State vs Penn State Preview and Analysis

Recent Form
Ball State went 7-1 in a Covid shortened 2020 season, 5-1 in conference.  They lost their opener to Miami, then started winning in the mid-American conference and didn’t stop. They won the Mac Championship over Buffalo in Detroit Michigan 38-28.  All that winning on the schedule got them an invite to Offerpad Arizona Bowl where they beat San Jose State 34-13.  A decisive season, followed by a decisive championship, then a decisive Bowl Game win.  Last season was one to remember, if not for that first game road loss… 
Penn State had an awful 2020… Indiana, Ohio State, Maryland, Nebraska, Iowa…  One after another for five straight, Penn State kept losing. Then they righted the ship and won 4 straight against Michigan, Rutgers, Michigan State, Illinois.  A crazy two faced season.  4-5, no bowl game.  A sad place to be for a school that has almost always been a winner. The most bizarre thing of course is losing to Nebraska and turning around and beating Michigan!  Who does that?  That is so 90’s!  

Offensive Analysis

Ball State opened the season with a win over the Western Illinois Leathernecks. The Ball State offense scored 31 points on 216 yards rushing and 188 yards passing.  These are not eye-popping numbers.. and you have to remind yourself they came against the Western Illinois.  Ball State was 5-14 in third down conversions.
The Penn State offense just barely slid by Wisconsin in the season opener road game.  Quarterback Sean Clifford completed 18 of 33 passes for 247 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions.  Wide Receiver Jahan Dotson caught 5 passes for 102 yards.  The final score of Penn State 16 - Wisconsin 10 must have been a relief for head coach James Franklin after last season’s disastrous first five games. Ball State is teed up as an easy win on the schedule because they simply have less talent… but Penn State better not get caught looking ahead to Auburn or daydreaming about the Buckeyes.

Defensive Analysis

The Ball State defense was part of the big win against Western Illinois.  However they did give up 437 yards… 33 more than their offense got.  The Ball State defense was bailed out by the sloppy play of Western Illinois all around.  The undisciplined Western Illinois got flagged 7 times for 73 yards, and went 0-2 on 4th down conversions, practically handing Ball State the win.  Penn State won’t make the same mistakes.

The Penn State Defensive Line took a huge blow with Adisa Isaac out for what is likely the entire 2021 season.  Against Wisconsin in Madison the Penn State defense came through.  Pressure form Arnold Ebiketie and an interception in the waning moments of the game by Ji’Ayir Brown sealed the win. They got another interception from safety Jaquan Brisker earlier and the defense played solid.  They will have plenty to go up against the Ball State’s of the world…. But the big boys are coming and any dreams they might have of the college football playoff games would seem silly at this point.

Ball State vs Penn State Prediction

Our prediction for Saturday September 11th is Penn State 35 - Ball State 14
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NCAAF Betting Trends

Ball State is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games.
Ball State is 8-0 SU in their last 8 games.
Penn State is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games.
Penn State is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games.
Penn State is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games played in September.

Key Injuries

Ball State - No Injuries reported
Penn State - DE Adisa Isaac  Out for Season likely 

Players to Watch

Penn State-  Noah Cain,  The 5’10 220 pounder hails from Baton Rouge, La.  He ran tough for the Lions in the first game but will need to break it all open against a softer linebacking core for Ball State.  The underdogs are where the running backs should shine the brightest.
Ball State- Wr Jayshon Jackson,  this graduate student transferred over from Cincinnati to get some more playing time.  well, lets go!

Notable Quotes

"He’s a physical player and he’s a very, very intelligent player. He has a tremendous football IQ,....I don’t agree with the call. You can’t target a ball carrier unless you use the crown of your helmet. I didn’t think he did that.” -Penn State head coach about targeting call against Wisconsin Badgers.
“It was a great moment,... My hands were fiery off the ball. I just wanted to play fast and play hard. I want to thank my teammates because they kept telling me to keep going and keep getting after it.”  - Woodward, Cardinals player,  about getting his first sack of the season and the team’s first sack of the season.

Starting Lineups

Ball State -  QB Drew Plitt, RB Will Jones, WR Yo’Heinz Tyler, WR Justin Hall, WR Jayshon Jackson, TE Dylan Koch
Penn State - QB Sean Clifford, RB Noah Cain, WR Jahan Dotson, WR Parker Washington, WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith, TE Benton Strange

Statistical Leaders

Ball State
Passing - QB Drew Pitt  188 yards
Rushing - RB Will Jones 93 yards
Receiving - WR Justin Hall  137 yards.
Penn State
Passing - QB Sean Clifford 247 yards
Rushing - RB Noah Cain 48 yards
Receiving-  WR  Jahan Dotson 102 yards
Penn State:  James Franklin,  he’ll need a big year with lots of wins to wash away the taste of last season.  The home opener is mandatory as is every home game.
Ball State :  Mike Neu.  In his sixth season at Ball State, his alma mater.  He had a successful season last year and just needs to keep putting up those wins.  

Weather Forecast

Mostly Sunny with a high of 77*, humidity at 64%  Place your wagers boys, 10% chance of precipitation

James Q

About the Author:

James Q. has been involved with sports and gambling his entire life. A former division 1 scholarship basketball player, James understands sports (and especially basketball) inside-and-out. Following his basketball playing days, James parlayed his gambling skills into a semi-pro poker career. James resides in Los Angeles, and especially loves the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Dodgers. And when he isn't betting on sports (and writing about it), James can be found performing stand-up comedy on the Sunset Strip.

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

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