Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated this Saturday’s game is the first meeting between the teams. It is the seventh meeting. The last Army win was in 2014.
An undefeated Army football team is heading into Week Five to take on Ball State (1-3) on the road. This is the seventh meeting for the pair. The first of which was in 2014 when Army defeated Ball State 34-24. If the Black Knights come away with the victory, it will be the first time the team has won back-to-back.
This year, the margins might be even wider. On paper, the odds look fairly strong for the Black Knights, who are 4-0. The Cardinals have a single win against Western Illinois, a currently 1-3 FCS team. During this season they’ve fumbled the ball six times and haven’t managed to put more than 13 points on the board in their last three contests. Couple that with the team recording an average of 131 yards rushing and 186 yards passing, another victory for Army seems within reach. But the Black Knights aren’t without some struggles of their own.
Quarterback Christian Anderson has continued to be a weapon on the ground. He ranks 11th in the country in rushing yards per carry with 7.43, including a record-breaking game against Miami Ohio last week.
However, last week against the Miami RedHawks, Anderson sustained an undisclosed shoulder injury, according to the Times Herald-Record. Head Coach Jeff Monken didn’t give much detail about his health for the game in an interview with media members earlier this week, but did say, “We’re just going to see how it progresses. We’re not sure on the timeline right now.’’
Backup quarterback Tyhier Tyler has had injuries of his own to battle this season, so it’s still unclear who will start Saturday.
If Anderson isn’t available throughout the entirety of the game, it’s possible Ball State could find an avenue to get points on the board. But even then, they’ll first have to get through Army’s defense who have forced five turnovers this season and are holding their opponents to just 58 rushing yards per game.
Cardinals fans will likely be looking to wide receiver Justin Hall. For his career so far, Hall has hauled in 281 passes for 3,061 yards across five seasons at Ball State. He often dominates the field for his team. Hall can create some magic with the ball in his hands, though that all depends on when Drew Pitt is able to connect with him — the quarterback has thrown three picks this season to just two touchdowns.
Aside from that, Ball State has struggled, giving up a lot of yardage thanks to turnovers and penalties. They’ve also allowed over 700 yards on the ground since their home opener.
TOUCHDOWN, Ball State!— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) September 2, 2021
WR Justin Hall okey-dokes his man and takes it 49 yards to the house to open the scoring account!
Ball State 7, Western Illinois 0, early 1Q pic.twitter.com/Khg1IDwWw5
With injuries and player shuffles, this has a possibility to be a low-scoring game for both teams. But it is college football — we’ll have to wait and see.
How to watch
- When: Saturday, October 2 — 5:00 p.m. EST
- Where: Scheumann Stadium — Muncie, Indiana
- How to Watch: ESPN+ — WATCH HERE
- Spread: Army is currently a 9-point favorite to win, with the over-under set at 48.