- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ball State (2-1) at No. 17 Northwestern (3-0), 8 p.m (Big Ten Network)

Line: Northwestern by 19½.

Series Record: First meeting

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Northwestern, 19-2 in September since the start of the 2010 season after beating Duke last week, is looking to stay on a roll heading into the Big Ten opener against Minnesota. A win would match the Wildcats’ best start since 2013, when they dropped seven in a row after winning their first four.

KEY MATCHUP

Northwestern’s defensive line vs Ball State’s offensive line. With a 76-16 combined scoring edge so far, Northwestern has caused plenty of havoc for opponents, and it will be facing a freshman quarterback.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ball State: QB Riley Neal. The freshman is expected to make his first start this week after seeing significant time the past two games. In last week’s 28-17 win over Eastern Michigan, he was 24 of 28 and tied the fourth-best completion percentage in school history. He finished with 194 yards passing and 86 rushing while throwing for a touchdown and running for one.

Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson. After rushing for nearly 1,200 yards last season, the sophomore has 332 yards. He carried a career-high 35 times for 120 yards - his eighth career 100-yard rushing game - last week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Northwestern leads the nation in scoring defense at 5.3 points per game and ranks sixth in both total defense (235 yards per game) and yards passing allowed (124.3 per game). … The Wildcats have allowed just one touchdown. … Opposing offenses are just 6 of 43 on third-down conversions against the Wildcats. … This will be the fifth time in six seasons Ball State has played at least one Big Ten team. The Cardinals beat Indiana in 2011 and 2012. … Ball State has run for at least 200 yards in all three games, including 278 last week against Eastern Michigan. … Ball State RB Darian Green ran for a personal-best 164 yards last week.

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