The Bulls (2-1) hope to bounce back from a 23-13 loss to Rutgers nine days ago, and one area where USF should have an edge is the red zone. Ball State's defense has given up 12 touchdowns in opponents' 12 trips inside their 20; the Cardinals' offense, meanwhile, has just eight TDs in 15 red-zone trips. Another positive for the Bulls: Ball State's defense is allowing opponents to convert 48 percent of their third downs (ranks 100th nationally). The Cardinals are 2-1.
Watch out for …
USF had high praise for Ball State QB Keith Wenning, but the player mentioned most often after players watched tape was tiny WR Jamill Smith, a Muncie, Ind., native who checks in at 5 feet 8, 140 pounds. He has 17 catches for 182 yards in Ball State's first three games. Turnovers are always huge, but neither team has an interception this season, so the defense that can end that slump may be in good position. Wenning has thrown only two picks in 114 attempts this season. USF will be without WR Chris Dunkley, who didn't travel due to a knee injury.
Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer