Muncie, Indiana - Ball State won its first game as a ranked team, but coach Brady Hoke knows his squad can't take anything for granted as it returns to Mid-American Conference play.
The No. 20 Cardinals play their first conference and home game as a Top 25 team against struggling Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Ball State -24 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Ball State -24 (View College Football bet percentages).
Though it was idle last weekend, Ball State (7-0, 3-0) moved up four spots in the most recent poll.
"It's flattering, it's nice, but it doesn't mean a whole lot when you look at what we're trying to get done," said Hoke, who's team won 24-7 at Western Kentucky on Oct. 11 in a non-conference game - the school's first as a ranked team.
"We would like to play a perfect game every week but I don't think any team in this country has played a perfect game," he added. "But we need to get our standards and our expectations that high every week."
Off to its best start since opening with nine straight victories in 1965, Ball State is one-half game back of first-place Central Michigan in the MAC West. After facing Eastern Michigan (2-6, 1-3), three of the Cardinals' final four contests are against division teams with winning records, including Central Michigan on the road.
"There are some great teams ahead of us, so we have a lot of work to do," Hoke said. "You have got to stay focused at the task at hand which is beating Eastern Michigan and then going to the next game.
"We just want to play as well as we can and keep improving."
Ball State, looking for its fourth consecutive victory over Eastern Michigan, totaled 355 yards and came within a minute of its second straight shutout two weeks ago. MiQuale Lewis rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, while Nate Davis was 14-for-22 for 155 yards and two TDs against Western Kentucky.
Davis, ninth in the nation with a 162.3 passer rating, has thrown at least one touchdown in 23 of the last 24 games. He passed for 306 yards and four touchdowns in Ball State's 38-16 win over Eastern Michigan last season.
"I think we had some rough edges," said Hoke, whose team led Western Kentucky 7-0 at the half. "We got some breaks but I also think we made some things happen."
Lewis, who has topped the 100-yard rushing mark in six straight games, needs 86 yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career. He ran for 73 yards and a touchdown against Eastern Michigan in 2007.
The Eagles, meanwhile, allowed Akron's Dennis Kennedy to rush for 277 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-35 loss last Saturday.
Eastern Michigan, trying to avoid a third straight loss, gave up a season-high 547 yards and allowed the Zips to score with 14 seconds left in the game.
Andy Schmitt was 22-for-34 for a season-high 258 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while Jacory Stone caught seven passes for a career-high 109 yards for Eastern Michigan. The Eagles are fifth in the MAC with 382.6 yards of offense per game.
Schmitt was 16-for-24 for 155 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals last season.
The Eagles will play their first game against a ranked opponent since losing 55-0 at then-No. 14 Michigan on Sept. 17, 2005. Eastern Michigan is 0-3 versus Top 25 squads since 2002.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
BALL ST is 7-3 against the spread versus E MICHIGAN since 1992
BALL ST is 9-7 straight up against E MICHIGAN since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
BALL ST is 2-0 against the spread versus E MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
BALL ST is 2-0 straight up against E MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at BALL ST since 1992
BALL ST is 3-2 against the spread versus E MICHIGAN since 1992
BALL ST is 4-4 straight up against E MICHIGAN since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at BALL ST over the last 3 seasons.
BALL ST is 1-0 against the spread versus E MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
BALL ST is 1-0 straight up against E MICHIGAN over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[QB] Kyle McMahon is expected to miss the rest of the season - Shoulder -
[DL] Tyler Palsrok missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
[DB] Derrick Hunter out indefinitely. - Knee - 09/09/08
(!) [WR] Dante Love is out for the season. - Neck - 09/22/08
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Posted: 10/21/08 1:20 PM