- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

No. 17 Western Michigan (8-0, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) at Ball State (4-4, 1-3), 8 p.m. ET Tuesday (ESPN2)

Line: Western Michigan by 16.

Series Record: Western Michigan leads 23-19.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The unbeaten Broncos are trying to play their way into a top bowl bid and a stumble anywhere along the way would end that dream. Ball State, meanwhile, is trying to pull itself out of the West Division basement with what would be the biggest upset of the MAC season.

KEY MATCHUP

Jarvion Franklin vs. Ball State defense. Franklin entered the weekend as the MAC’s No. 2 rusher at 113.6 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry. If Ball State wants to make this game competitive, its run defense must play better than its No. 7 conference ranking (153.2 yards rushing allowed per game).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Western Michigan: Franklin. The 6-foot, 228-pound running back has a chance to showcase his old-school, bulldozing style on national television. And he isn’t shy about why he likes running over defenders - calling it the quickest way to get first downs.

Ball State: RB James Gilbert. The sophomore, who first committed to Western Michigan before signing with Ball State, actually started the weekend as the MAC’s leading rusher with 987 yards and 11 TDs. The Cardinals need him to be just as effective against Western Michigan’s stout defense to keep the score close, the clock running and the Broncos’ offense off the field.

FACTS & FIGURES

Western Michigan has won 10 straight games overall, the school’s longest streak since 1940-41. … Gilbert has four straight 100-yard games for Ball State. … The Broncos are trying to avoid becoming the first ranked opponent to lose to Ball State since Toledo in 2012. … Ball State has scored at least 20 points in all eight games this season under first-year coach Mike Neu. … Western Michigan has the fewest turnovers (three) in the Football Bowl Subdivision. … Ball State has the third-fewest penalty yards (243) in FBS.

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For more college football: collegefootball.ap.org

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