2007 International Bowl Preview
by Jordan Adams
Rutgers (7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)
Conference match-up: Big East vs. MAC
Date: Jan.5, 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
Spread: Rutgers -10
If you tried to correlate the spread with the records of both teams, you might be confused. Well, that's because Rutgers, who started the season as high as No. 10, plummeted to a very disappointing 7-5 and was relegated north of the border for postseason play. So you might ask why a number so high? Then we start to talk about the Ball State defense. Paper-thin and soft enough to blow your nose through it, now it must deal with the likes of Ray Rice and the Rutgers team speed. The best medical cure for that just might be Nate Davis and the Cardinals offense that can match the Scarlet Knights point for point. Both teams average over 31 per game, and we'll see both put together a high scoring affair. That being said, the million-dollar question coming in will be which Rutgers defense will show up?
Rutgers can cover if: they get back to their ball-hawking, blitz-swarming defense that nearly earned them a Big East championship last season. This year was nothing like 2006, but one constant was senior running back Ray Rice, who accounted for over 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. He'll have no problem gaining over 150 yards in this one, so he needs to be relied upon. But when Rutgers does choose to throw the ball with Mike Teel, he cannot turn it over. If he makes mistakes, it will cancel out everything the Knights achieve on the ground. Let Rice carry the ball 30 times in his final college game. Not only will he carry this team down the field throughout the game if he does so, but also pounding him on the ground will keep Davis and the Ball State offense on the sidelines.
Ball State can cover if: Nate Davis is just as effective as he was in the regular season. The second-year signal caller had a wonderful sophomore season, throwing for over 3,300 yards and 27 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Everyone and their brother knows the Cardinals defense will be the weak part in this game, so Davis will come into this matchup knowing a 30-point performance might be necessary. The one positive going up against the speedy Rutgers defense is they have been shaky all season allowing points. They gave up 28 to Cincinnati, 31 to West Virginia and 41 to Louisville; Rutgers has struggled with spread-style attacks and Ball State can produce offense just as effectively as the three previously mentioned programs. Ball State will get their points; they just need to avoid feeding any extra momentum to Rutgers with silly mistakes.
General notes: Ball State is still fairly new to this bowl thing. The Cardinals have yet to earn a victory, just 0-4-1 all-time in bowl games. Last season Rutgers capped off its impressive rise-to-fame season with a 37-10 victory over Kansas State in the 2006 Texas Bowl. This year up against a mid-major who is looking for some exposure for their own program, expect a much more competitive game. This is only the second ever International Bowl, as Cincinnati defeated Western Michigan last year in Toronto for its inaugural game.
Re: International Bowl
International Bowl: Ball State Cardinals vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Ball State Cardinals and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will both be gunning for a bowl victory January 6 when they meet at Rogers Centre in the second International Bowl.
Ball State's Nate Davis accounted for three touchdowns in a 27-21 win at Northern Illinois last time out, failing to cover the 9.5-point road spread. The 48 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 56.
Davis was 23-for-35 for 326 yards, two touchdowns while adding one on the ground for the Cardinals.
Rutgers lost 41-38 to the Louisville Cardinals last time out, as 2.5-point underdogs. The combined score sailed OVER the posted total of 60.
Ray Rice carried the ball 30 times for 121 yards with three touchdowns in a losing effort for the Scarlet Knights.
Ball State: 7-5 SU, 7-4 ATS
Rutgers: 7-5 SU, 5-6 ATS
Ball State most recently:
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 5-5
When playing outside the conference are 2-8
After playing Northern Illinois are 6-4
Rutgers most recently:
When playing on turf are 6-4
After being outgained are 7-3
When playing outside the conference are 9-1
After playing Louisville are 1-1
A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Ball State's last 5 games
Ball State is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
Rutgers is 18-7 SU in its last 25 games
Rutgers is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
Re: International Bowl
Game Preview for Rutgers vs Ball State
GAME NOTES: For the first time in 11 years the Ball State Cardinals will participate in postseason action when they collide with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second-annual International Bowl. The Scarlet Knights stormed out of the gates this year, collecting three consecutive wins, outscoring their three opponents by a combined 138-27 margin. However, the fast start was brought to a halt with back-to-back losses to Maryland and Cincinnati. Rutgers was able to regroup, grabbing two straight wins, defeating Syracuse and USF, which at the time was ranked second in the nation. The Scarlet Knights were unable to continue the strong play however, as they followed up the huge win over USF with losses to West Virginia and Connecticut. Once again, the Knights rebounded with consecutive wins, defeating Army and Pittsburgh, and although Rutgers suffered a loss to Louisville to close out the year, the team was still able to earn its third consecutive bowl game, and just the fourth in the school's 138-year history. Last year the Knights collected their first ever bowl win by pounding Kansas State, 37-10 in the Texas Bowl. As for the Cardinals, they last made a bowl appearance during the 1996 season when they lost to Nevada, 18-15 at the Las Vegas Bowl. In five bowl appearances, the Cardinals have yet to post a victory, losing four times, while posting a tie in another. The journey for BSU began this season with a tough, 14-13 setback to Miami-Ohio. After winning back-to-back games over Eastern Michigan and Navy, the Cardinals fell just short on the road against Nebraska, 41-40. They rebounded however, winning three of their next four games, with the lone setback coming against Mid-American Conference champion, Central Michigan. Ball State fell to 5-5 with two consecutive losses to Illinois and Indiana, but the team earned its bowl eligibility with two straight victories over Toledo and Northern Illinois to close out the season. This will be just the second-ever matchup between Rutgers and Ball State on the gridiron. The first game resulted in a 31-31 tie back during the 1989 season.
Rutgers can hurt its opponents with many different options offensively, but none are more dangerous than running back Ray Rice. Rice is one of the top backs in the entire nation, and finished third in the country with 1,732 yards and an impressive 20 touchdowns. Teams usually place all their attention on Rice, and overlook the passing attack for Rutgers, which could be a mistake. Quarterback Mike Teel is not a well known signal caller, but the junior has completed 57.7 percent of his throws on the year for 2,844 yards and has 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. When Teel drops back in the pocket, the quarterback usually looks the way of Tiquan Underwood or Kenny Britt. Underwood led the Scarlet Knights with 62 catches for 1,028 yards and seven scores, while Britt hauled in 56 passes for a team-best 1,107 yards and also found the end zone six times. With all those weapons, it is not surprising that Rutgers averaged 437.2 total ypg, and 31.2 ppg in 2007.
The Scarlet Knights have done well for the most part on defense this season, as the squad is limiting the opposition to just 319.5 total ypg, and 21.8 ppg. Rutgers has controlled the passing lanes, holding teams to a mere 160.6 ypg and just 6.1 yards per throw. However, the unit has had some trouble against the run, as teams are producing 158.9 ypg on the ground, and out of the 29 touchdowns surrendered by the Scarlet Knights, 18 have come via the run. The defense has done a tremendous job at getting to the quarterback, recording 35 sacks on the season. However, the team has not been able to force many turnovers, collecting just 18 takeaways on the year (nine interceptions, nine fumbles). There are not many flashy names on this defense, but the main source of production comes from the front line, as Jamaal Westerman has recorded 13 TFLs and a team-best eight sacks.
The Cardinals' bread and butter this year has been their passing attack, as the team is producing an impressive 284.4 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Nate Davis has been sensational all season long, completing 57.1 percent of his throws. In 12 games, the signal-caller has thrown for 3,376 yards and 27 touchdowns against only six interceptions. The top two targets for Davis has been Dante Love and tight end Darius Hill. Love is a down field target that can spread the defense, as the wide out is averaging 14.1 ypg. The junior has hauled in 87 passes for 1,229 yards and nine scores. As for Hill, he is a dangerous, pass catching tight end, and in 12 games Hill has grabbed 56 passes for 837 yards and nine TDs. The ground game is producing 147.2 ypg, but the team does not possess a number one back. The main source of production out of the backfield has been Frank Edmonds, who has rushed for 526 yards and six scores, but is averaging just 3.8 ypc.
What does not bode well for the Cardinals is that they are about to face one of the top running backs in the nation with the 99th-ranked rushing defense. Ball State has been abused by the run throughout the year and is currently surrendering 197.0 ypg on the ground. Overall this unit is being tortured for 418.8 total ypg, and that has led to 26.3 ppg. The team has been able to make big plays on the year, which has really minimized the damage. In 12 games, the defense has forced 27 turnovers, 18 of which were interceptions. Pressuring the quarterback has been an issue for Ball State, as the team has collected only 21 sacks. Another problem for the Cardinals has been their play inside their own 20-yard line, as the squad is allowing the opposition to convert on 76 percent of their red zone chances.
The Cardinals will have their hands full throughout the game with Rutgers' Rice. The running back should conclude his sensational year with another big game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 38, Ball State 21
Re: International Bowl
Finally healthy, Rutgers' Teel looking forward to bowl game
January 3, 2008
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -Don't count Mike Teel among the Rutgers players who may have to manufacture any enthusiasm for playing in Saturday's International Bowl instead of a higher-profile bowl game.
Rutgers' junior quarterback used the recent five-week layoff to finally allow his injured throwing hand to fully heal, and he's anxious to take it out for a spin.
``This will probably be the healthiest I've been since the second game of the year. I'm excited at the opportunity,'' Teel said.
Teel's teammates bravely recited the same party line last week, despite the fact that the Scarlet Knights were preparing to face Ball State in a matchup of 7-5 teams that is a far cry from where Rutgers envisioned itself at the beginning of the season.
With two-thirds of its starters back from a team that finished 11-2 in 2006 - including Teel plus record-setting running back Ray Rice and a talented wide receiver corps - this was supposed to be the year Rutgers continued its ascension into college football's upper echelon.
Those predictions landed with a thud after consecutive losses to Maryland and Cincinnati, and resounding defeats to West Virginia and Connecticut only reaffirmed that the initial exuberance may have been a bit irrational.
Still, Rutgers can be proud of the fact that it is playing in its third consecutive bowl game for the first time in the program's history.
``If you're in a bowl game, you're a good football team,'' coach Greg Schiano said. ``We're blessed to be going to a bowl and we're very excited about going to the International Bowl.''
Teel must feel particularly blessed to have another game to play, given his circumstances.
He injured his throwing hand in the first month of the season and spent most of the next two months having trouble gripping the ball. He acknowledged that there were weeks when he was barely able to practice.
``There were times I did nothing because I couldn't,'' he said. ``Obviously it affects anyone, even the best quarterbacks in the NFL, to not get the reps. You get the mental reps because you see it, but that's not the same as going out there and going through it. You need to see everything, you need to get your checks, get guys in the right spots at the right times.''
Despite the injury, Teel's numbers rose from 2006 when he helped lead Rutgers to an 11-2 record and the school's first bowl victory: 17 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 2,844 yards passing, compared to 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 2,135 yards a year ago.
He played heroically in a 30-27 upset of then-No. 2 South Florida on Oct. 18, throwing two touchdown passes despite being so hampered by the injury that Schiano came close to pulling him. A week later, though, he threw two interceptions and no touchdowns in a 38-3 loss to West Virginia that all but eliminated them from BCS consideration.
Subsequent losses to UConn and Louisville - the latter in a game Teel was 21-of-32 for 265 yards and two touchdowns - relegated Rutgers to the second-year International Bowl, the only bowl game played outside the U.S.
Teel's pragmatic approach to the game sounded like it was lifted from Schiano's playbook.
``All the stuff about, 'We could be here, we should be there,' it is what it is,'' Teel said. ``It's a great opportunity for me to have a chance to play healthy again, and it gives us the opportunity to get all the young guys an extra 15 or so practices so they can really elevate themselves and really learn the game.''
Re: International Bowl
What bettors need to know: Ball State at Rutgers
Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel won’t need to fabricate any enthusiasm for playing in Saturday’s International Bowl.
“This will probably be the healthiest I've been since the second game of the year,” Teel told reporters. “I'm excited at the opportunity.”
Teel injured his throwing hand in the first month of the campaign and spent the next two months struggling to restore the strength in his arm.
“There were times I did nothing because I couldn't,” Teel told reporters. “Obviously it affects anyone, even the best quarterbacks in the NFL, to not get the reps. You get the mental reps because you see it, but that's not the same as going out there and going through it. You need to see everything, you need to get your checks, get guys in the right spots at the right times.”
Rutgers, though, isn’t scoffing at Saturday’s meeting with the Ball State Cardinals.
“All the stuff about, 'We could be here, we should be there,' it is what it is,” Teel continued. “It's a great opportunity for me to have a chance to play healthy again, and it gives us the opportunity to get all the young guys an extra 15 or so practices so they can really elevate themselves and really learn the game.”
Teel finished the regular season with 2,844 passing yards with 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
Rutgers standout receiver Kenny Britt had his knee scoped at the end of the regular season after injuring it against Louisville.
Britt is probable for the International Bowl.
Doctors initially told Rutgers that it could be without Britt versus Ball State. However, the star receiver said he has healed ahead of schedule.
“I was walking a week before I was supposed to walk and running a week before I was supposed to run,” Britt told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Rutgers quarterback Teel is especially interested in Britt’s status for Saturday.
“I thought he ran around pretty well,” Teel told reporters. “He did more than I thought he would. He's a pretty quick healer.”
Britt accumulated more than 1,100 receiving yards this season. He also led the Scarlet Knights with seven touchdown receptions.
Scarlet Knights associate head coach Darren Rizzi, who recently accepted the head coaching position at Rhode Island, will remain with Rutgers through Saturday.
Head coach Greg Schiano thinks Rizzi’s participation is important for the Scarlet Knights’ bowl preparation.
“He’s still working really hard with the special teams and defense as well,” Schiano told reporters.
Under coach Rizzi, the Scarlet Knights defense blossomed. Last season Rutgers finished fourth in total defense and fifth in tackles for a loss and sacks.
“I am very happy for Darren and his family,” Schiano continued. “He has done a great job here at Rutgers and I know that he will do a great job as the head football coach at the University of Rhode Island. We will miss him but are very happy for him and his family.”
Cardinals fly North
Ball State will play its first bowl game in 11 years on Saturday.
Cardinals safety Eddie Burk, though, is treating the International Bowl like a BCS Championship.
“It will be exciting to go to a bowl, and finding out we play Rutgers makes me even more excited to win the game,” Ball State safety Eddie Burk told the Indiana Star-Press. “We're not just going to be satisfied to go to the game. We're going to Toronto to win. It's going to be fun.”
Ball State head coach Brady Hoke thinks his team can compete with the experienced Scarlet Knights.
“It will be interesting to see how these guys respond,” Hoke said. “I like where their attitude has been, and I like how they feel about having the opportunity to play. Their demeanor will be based on my demeanor.”
Ball State, 7-5 straight up (SU) and 7-4 against the spread (ATS), put together its first successful season since finishing 8-4 SU in 1996.
Re: International Bowl
BALL STATE vs. RUTGERS (International)...Rutgers 2-3 its last 5 as chalk TY, and covered only 1 of last 5 in '07. Scarlet Knights covered as chalk at Syracuse and Army but were just 1-5 their last 6 as chalk away from home entering TY. Rutgers has covered its last 2 bowls, however. Ball no covers last 2 away TY but had covered 12 of previous 13 away from home. Cards also 7-1 their last 8 as dog. Tech edge-Ball State, based on recent trends.
Re: International Bowl
INTERNATIONAL BOWL (at Toronto)
Ball State (7-5, 7-4 ATS) vs. Rutgers (7-5, 5-6 ATS)
The second International Bowl kicks off at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, with Ball State in its first bowl game in 11 years and Rutgers making its third straight postseason appearance under coach Greg Schiano.
Ball State, which finished in second place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division, won its final two games of the season to become bowl eligible, beating Toledo 41-20 as a seven-point favorite on Nov. 13 and then winning at Northern Illinois 27-21 as a 9½-point chalk on Nov. 24.
The Scarlet Knights, fifth-place finishers in the Big East, won just two of their final five games (1-4 ATS), including a 41-38 loss at Louisville as a 2½-point underdog in the season finale. Rutgers blew a 35-17 second-half lead in the defeat.
While the Cardinals have been absent from postseason play since the mid-1990s, Rutgers is making its third straight bowl appearance (1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS). Last year, the Knights destroyed Kansas State 37-10 in the Texas Bowl as an 8½-point favorite.
The Cardinals are on ATS runs of 11-4 overall, 6-1 against non-conference foes the last two years, 3-1 as a road underdog this season. On the downside, Ball State went 0-3 SU against teams from BCS conferences this season, but 2-1 ATS.
Rutgers is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 against teams with a winning record and 9-1-1 ATS in its last 11 non-conference games.
Ball State’s pass-happy offense, which ranked 21st in the nation, is led by QB Nate Davis, who threw for 3,376 yards, 27 TDs and just six INTs. WR Dante Love is Davis’ favorite target, as he racked up 1,229 yards and 10 TDs.
While the Cardinals love to chuck it all over the field, today they’ll be facing a stingy Rutgers defense that ranked second in the country against the pass, allowing 160.6 yards per game. In their final three regular-season games, the Scarlet Knights held the opposition to an average of 150 passing ypg.
Not only is Rutgers strong on defense, but it has an explosive balanced offense that ranks 26th in the nation with 437.2 total yards per game. RB Ray Rice finished third in the country with 1,732 yards rushing, and he had 21 TDs. QB Mike Teel was second in the Big East with 2,844 yards and 17 TDs, but 12 INTs.
These two teams have only met once prior to tonight, finishing tied 31-31 in 1989 with Ball State cashing the ticket as 18-point ‘dogs.
The under was the play in the Cardinals’ last five games, and the under is 4-1 in Rutgers’ last six against MAC opponents.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
Re: International Bowl
By Chris David
How they got there: Ball State will be the third representative of the Mid-American Conference in postseason play. The Cardinals finished in second of the MAC West behind Central Michigan with a 5-2 ledger. All four of Ball State 's non-conference games were against bowl teams this year. The Cards posted a 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS mark with the lone win coming against Navy, 34-31.
Rutgers was ranked as high as No. 10 in the country after three weeks of play but suffered back-to-back home losses to Maryland (34-24) and Cincinnati (28-23). The Scarlet Knights finished fifth in the Big East with a 4-3 mark, which included a 30-27 victory on Oct. 18 over then No. 2 South Florida.
What to expect:
Ball State has been known to light up the scoreboard, averaging 32 points per game behind a solid air attack. Unfortunately, the defense hasn't been able to stop anybody, especially against the run. The unit is allowing 197 yards per game on the ground, which is ranked 99th nationally. The "D" did lead the MAC with 18 interceptions.
Rutgers has transformed itself into a well-balanced attack on offense, using the run to open up a much-improved passing game. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights are ranked 13th in total yards (316) and listed as second in pass defense (160 YPG, 11 TDs).
Players to Watch:
Quarterback Nate Davis led the MAC with 3,376 yards and 27 touchdown passes. Also, he was only picked off six times in 12 games. Helping the sophomore gunslinger is wide receiver Dante Love, who led the MAC with 1,229 yards, 87 catches and nine scores.
Running back Ray Rice (1,732 yards, 20 TDs) is the main reason why Rutgers loves to grind out the rock behind the little-big-man. Quarterback Mike Teel has benefited by Rice's attention, torching opponents for 2,844 yards and 17 TDs. He often looks to the dangerous duo of Kenny Britt (1,107 yards, 7 TDs) and Tiquan Underwood (62 catches, 1,028 yards).
Ball State has never won a bowl game in its school history, posting a 0-4-1 all-time mark. The MAC is 0-1 in bowl action this year.
Rutgers will be attending its third straight bowl game, going 1-1 in the two previous contests. The Big East notched a perfect 5-0 record last year in postseason play, but is just 2-2 after four bowls this year.
The International Bowl will be playing for just the second time. The Big East owns bragging rights after one game, watching Cincinnati edge Western Michigan 27-24 in last year's inaugural game.
Inside the Line:
Rutgers opened up as a 9½-point favorite and the total at 59. More than a month later, the Scarlet Knights are laying 10 to 11 points in most places, while the total has jumped to 61.
Ball State is 0-2 SU, but 2-0 ATS when listed as a double-digit underdog this year. Rutgers is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS when laying 10 points or more. The Cardinals have gone 4-3 SU and 5-2 ATS on the road this year, while the Knights are 2-2 both SU and ATS.
BSU has watched the 'under' go 5-0 in its last five games. Rutgers' offense has dropped 38, 41, 19 and 38 points in its four road games.
Expert Opinion: - Joe Nelson
Rutgers will have a big advantage in fan support as nearly 13,000 made last year's bowl trip to Houston and Toronto is a more manageable journey. Ball State had some of the worst attendance figures in the nation and even with an improved squad this season there may be little enthusiasm. After letting Louisville comeback to win in the regular season finale Coach Schiano will have the Knights ready to play a complete game and Rutgers is 2-0 ATS in bowl games the last two seasons. Making a bowl game is a great accomplishment for Ball State but is that enough?
Underdogs have fared well recently, winning back-to-back national games but we expect the favorites to bounce back on Saturday afternoon in a game that should sneak under the radar. Rutgers' defense is underrated and the offense should dice up one of the worst defensive units in the country. I also factor in the coaching factor with Greg Schiano, often wondering why he turned down Miami, Fl. last year and recently Michigan. Either Schiano is interested in another job or he really likes NJ. That's yet to be seen, but I do expect him to have his school ready for this game and really try to make a statement. Ball State will put some points, but Rutgers will name its number.
Final Score: Rutgers 55 Ball State 28