Ball State (5-1) vs. No. 23 Buffalo (5-0), Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN) in Detroit.
Line: Buffalo by 12 1/2.
Series record: Ball State leads 9-2.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The winner captures its first Mid-American Conference title in a while. Buffalo last won it in 2008 and Ball State's last championship was in 1996. Buffalo is in the title game for the second time in three years after losing to Northern Illinois in 2018.
No sense overthinking this: Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson has rushed for 1,025 yards and 18 touchdowns in just five games this season. He alone is a good reason to tune in for this game, and the ability of Ball State's defensive front to contain him could determine whether the Cardinals can pull off the upset.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ball State: LB Brandon Martin. He missed almost all of the 2019 season because of an injury but is now averaging 12 tackles per game.
Buffalo: RB Kevin Marks. The other half of this team's impressive rushing tandem. Marks has run for 510 yards and five touchdowns — a fine season, but one that is being overshadowed by Patterson's jaw-dropping numbers.
FACTS & FIGURES
These teams met in the 2008 MAC title game. Then it was Ball State that was unbeaten and ranked No. 12 in the country, but Buffalo prevailed 42-24. ... Ball State's Justin Hall is the school's career leader with 252 receptions. ... Patterson needs 213 yards rushing to pass Branden Oliver for Buffalo's career lead. ... Ball State is 4-1 this season in games decided by seven points or fewer. Only a 45-20 win over Central Michigan was more lopsided than that. ... Buffalo has scored at least 42 points in each game and no victory was closer than its 49-30 win over Northern Illinois in its opener.
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