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Poke Preview Week 3: Ball State Cardinals

(2-0) Cowboys return home, face off against Ball State Cardinals (1-1)

NCAA Football: Montana State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

What: Ball State Cardinals vs. Wyoming Cowboys

Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyoming

When: 2:00 MT

Stream: FuboTV

Series: N/A

The Pokes are 2-0 and will return home this Saturday for what’s sure to be a physical first-time matchup with the defending MAC Champion Ball State Cardinals. The Cardinals come off an extremely difficult loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions of Penn State, and are looking to bounce back this week against the Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Pokes are looking to keep their winning streak alive in front of their home crowd as they host their second game of the early 2021 season.

What to look for: Ball State

The Cardinals are coming off a lopsided finish at the hands of the Nittany Lions where they wound up losing in the effort 44-13. However, prior to that matchup the Cardinals had strung together 8 straight wins dating back to last season; a season in which they won the MAC Championship and recorded their first bowl win in program history. The recent success has been in a large part due to team leaders such as Head Coach Mike Neu and QB Drew Plitt. Plitt and the Cardinals will have no easy task in front of them and will look to throw the ball effectively against a very stout Poke defense that looks to erase the mistakes that led to a close finish in last week’s contest.

What to look for: Wyoming

The Pokes are coming off back-to-back weeks where they’ve finished their contests in dramatic fashion. They have yet to string together any sort of consistency which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly where this team is at, but on the bright side they have shown flashes of being close to figuring it out. QB Sean Chambers and WR Ayden Eberhardt have established a very strong connection early, RB Xazavian Valladay has shown that he is arguably the best back in the conference, and LB Chad Muma has been as impactful as it gets on the defensive side of the ball. If they can manage to tie everything together, not get complacent and compete for a full 60 minutes, they should be in good shape on Saturday.

Prediction:

There’s no doubt that Ball State will garner a unique approach for the Cowboys toward this Saturday’s contest at War Memorial. These programs have never faced before, they are in different conferences, and it should be interesting to see if the Cardinals will be able to have a bounce back performance. I am also concerned with the fact that next week’s matchup for Ball State is with conference foe Toledo. With Toledo looming, it may be that they’ll have one foot already out the door in anticipation. Wyoming also however had its struggles against another MAC opponent last week, and like I mentioned before, they haven’t seemed able to string together a solid 60 minutes just yet. Despite this, I think being back at home will pay its dividends for the Cowboys. I like them handily this week.

Final Score: Wyoming 38 Ball State 24