Hoosiers and Cardinals Set for Clash at The Rock

    Go Hoosiers! Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers will play host to Ball State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers will play host to Ball State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 19, 2008

    Ball State Weekly Release Get Acrobat Reader

    Fresh off its fifth straight 2-0 start and looking for its second consecutive 3-0 start, the Indiana football team welcomes in-state rival Ball State to Memorial Stadium (49,225) on Saturday, Sept. 20. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network. The Hoosiers have not opened 3-0 in consecutive seasons since 1993-94.

    In addition to the action on the field, the 1988 Liberty Bowl Hoosiers will hold a reunion this weekend. The Bill Mallory-led team finished the 1998 season 8-3-1 and posted a 34-10 victory over South Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.

    Indiana is coming off its first bye week since 2005. After dropping Western Kentucky in the season opener, IU pounded Murray State, 45-3, on Sept. 6. Indiana rushed for 254 on 53 carries and five different Hoosier rushers reached the end zone, led by senior captain Marcus Thigpen. The Detroit native raced for 100 yards on seven carries to go along with a pair of scores.

    IU's defense limited Murray State to just 28 rushing yards on 27 carries. Fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Marando forced a pair of fumbles, recovered one and added one sack. Junior safety Nick Polk picked off his first pass this season and collected six tackles.

    Scouting Ball State
    Ball State is 3-0 for the first time since 1988 and sits at 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals are coming off a 41-24 victory at Akron in which junior quarterback Nate Davis threw for 300 yards, two TD strikes and became the school's all-time passing yardage leader. Junior halfback MiQuale Lewis added 154 yards and a pair of scores.

    Redshirt freshman safety and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week Sean Baker picked off three passes, returned a fumble 33 yards for a score and added nine tackles.

    Davis ranks eighth nationally with 916 passing yards (305.3 per game) in addition to nine touchdowns, three interceptions and a 75.0 completion percentage. The Cardinals average 488.7 yards and 41.3 points. Davis throws 144.3 of those yards to senior Dante Love. The nation's leader in receiving yardage has 25 receptions and three touchdowns to go along with a pair of rushing scores. Love also averages 25.4 yards per kick return and ranks third nationally with 242 all-purpose yards per game. Lewis is 10th in the country with 121.0 yards each time out and has back-to-back 100-yard contests.

    BSU has picked off five passes, recovered one fumble and allowed 385 yards and 20.3 points per game. Baker owns 24 tackles and senior cornerback B.J. Hill has a pair of interceptions. Fifth-year senior Chris Miller, a semifinalist for the 2007 Ray Guy Award, averages 42.1 yards per punt.

    The Ball State Series
    The Hoosiers and Cardinals will meet for just the fifth time and the third time in as many years, with Indiana holding a 4-0 edge. IU has won all three contests in Bloomington, including a 38-20 victory last season.

    In 2006, Indiana rallied from 17-0 and 23-7 deficits to stun Ball State, 24-23, in Muncie on Sept. 9. The Hoosiers also dropped the Cardinals, 35-14, on Sept. 13, 1997 and secured a 21-9 victory on Sept. 4, 1999.

    Muncie Ties
    Hoosier head coach Bill Lynch and wide receivers coach Billy Lynch are no strangers to Ball State. Bill served as the Cardinals head coach from 1995-02. He led BSU to an appearance in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl, a 1996 MAC title and a share of the 2001 MAC West.

    Billy lettered three years (1999-01) as a wide receiver and four years (1998-02) as a basketball standout with the Cardinals. He led Ball State with 40 receptions his senior campaign. In addition, he played for then-Ball State head coach and current Hoosier basketball assistant Tim Buckley.

    Bill's middle son, Joey, earned four letters at Ball State (2003-06). A standout quarterback for the Cardinals, Joey sits in the top 10 in several BSU career passing charts, including yards (sixth), attempts (seventh), completions (seventh), touchdowns (fourth) and completion percentage (second). Joey is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ashland (Ohio) University.

    IU vs. The MAC
    Indiana has won its last 20 meetings against Mid-American Conference opponents, including three victories in 2007. Ball State is the first MAC opponent to travel to Bloomington this season. The Chippewas of Central Michigan come to The Rock on Nov. 1. IU holds a 32-4-1 (.878) all-time record against MAC foes.

    Running Wild
    Head coach Bill Lynch has preached to his team the importance of running the ball and it has received the message thus far. Indiana scored six touchdowns on the ground against Murray State, the first time the Hoosiers have run for six TDs or more since they ran for seven in a 63-32 victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 6, 2001.

    Five different Hoosiers scored on the ground in the game, the first time that has happened since Oct. 22, 1949 (Pittsburgh). Marcus Thigpen (twice), Bryan Payton, Demetrius McCray, Ben Chappell and Zach Davis-Walker each crossed the goal line. In 2007, only four Hoosiers reached the end zone all season. Indiana also divvied up its participation across the board, as eight different players recorded rushes.

    IU has rushed for 551 yards (275.5 per game) on 94 attempts (47 per game) in two games. The team's eight rushing scores are nearly half the total of last season's 18. Indiana posted a 5-0 record in 2007 when rushing for over 200 yards and carrying the ball over 40 times.

    Using His Speed
    Senior captain Marcus Thigpen recorded the third 100-yard game of his career with 100 yards on the nose against Murray State. Thigpen, the track standout who has been dubbed "The Fastest Man in Bloomington," collected a career-long 67-yard run in the first quarter and a 31-yarder later in the same stanza. He matched a career best with his two rushing scores. With 100 yards on just seven carries, Thigpen set a new school record for the fewest number of rushes to top 100 yards.

    The Detroit native also recorded 24 receiving yards and 57 kick return yards for 181 all-purpose yards, tied for the third-best total of his career. Thigpen finished the game with five plays over 20 yards, including two on the ground, two on kickoffs and one through the air.

    Clearing the Scoreboard
    The Hoosier defense allowed three points against Murray State, the fewest since a 33-3 victory vs. Indiana State in 2003. IU has allowed 16 points over its first two contests, the fewest in consecutive games since the Hoosiers pitched back-to-back shutouts over Northwestern and Michigan State in 1993. That season, Indiana allowed just 10 points in its first two contests.

    Making His Mark
    After moving from linebacker to defensive end during 2007 spring practice, fifth-year senior Ryan Marando contributed to the Hoosiers' school-record 42 sacks last season with five of his own, which ranked second on the club. Marando has proved to be a menace again in 2008. The Lakewood, Ohio, native forced a second-quarter fumble on a sack and then recovered the ball at the 2-yard line against Murray State.

    Marando later added his third-career forced fumble and second on the night. He became the first Hoosier to force two fumbles in a game since Kenny Kendal vs. Kentucky on Sept. 18, 2004. After filling in at starting left end vs. Western Kentucky, Marando is second on the team with 1.5 sacks and leads the club with 2.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles this season.

    No Dirty Laundry
    After finishing 10th in the league with 75 penalties last season (5.8 per game), the Hoosiers have limited their mistakes thus far in 2008. Indiana did not commit a penalty against Murray State. The last time a Hoosier team did not commit a penalty in a game came back in 1981 against Michigan (Oct. 3).

    Time Well Spent
    The Hoosiers closed out the Murray State game with one of their longest drives in recent memory. Getting the ball with 12:21 left on the clock, Indiana used 19 plays and marched 65 yards to close out the ballgame. The last time IU recorded a 19-play drive came against Michigan on Sept. 27, 2003, and the last time a Hoosier drive took at least 10 minutes off the clock came against Iowa on Oct. 8, 1994 (11:16).

    Tough Road Ahead
    With two non-conference games in the book, Indiana's schedule now increases in degree of difficulty. Nine of the Hoosiers' 10 remaining opponents were bowl eligible last season, including all six home opponents, and they posted a combined 69-47 record (.595) in 2007. Seven of IU's foes appeared in bowl games, including its remaining two non-conference opponents - Ball State and Central Michigan.

    Lynch reaches 90
    Hoosier head man Bill Lynch recorded his 90th career victory with the team's 45-3 victory over Murray State. Lynch holds a 90-73-3 career mark (.551) in his 16th season, which includes stops at Butler, Ball State and DePauw. He owns a 9-6 record at Indiana.




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