NC State football vs. Ball State: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Wolfpack battles Cardinals

Tabari Hines #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack scores a touchdown against the East Carolina Pirates during the second half of their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina State will be back at the friendly confines of Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday when it meets Ball State in a nonconference game. The Wolfpack will attempt to extend their streak of 12 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown at home against the high-powered Cardinals.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: N.C. State -19.5

After two solid performances to open the season, sophomore quarterback Matthew McKay struggled against West Virginia, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and taking three sacks. Still, the Raleigh, N.C., native avoided turning the ball over and has thrown 121 straight passes without an interception, tied for the third longest streak in the FBS. "There are certain things that he is doing really well. He's not turning the football over. He's getting guys lined up. He's managing the clock well," coach Dave Doeren told the media of McKay, who accounted for three touchdowns in his starting debut in the season opener against East Carolina, joining Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett as the only N.C. State quarterbacks to do so since 1970. "There's a lot that goes into him playing better and he needs to play better." Drew Plitt has racked up 1,040 passing yards and ranks fifth in the FBS at 346.7 per game, fourth in completions per game (29) and 22nd in completion percentage (70.6) for the Cardinals of Muncie, Ind.


With a quarterback who has completed 84 passes for more than 1,000 yards through three games, there are plenty of targets to go around, but it's no surprise that Riley Miller leads Mike Neu's team in receiving yards. The former walk-on, who has racked up 105 receptions, 1,414 yards and 10 touchdowns in 26 career games, has 14 catches for 236 yards. Antwan Davis, who had one catch for eight yards before missing the rest of last season with a broken foot, is second in yards and first with three touchdowns while junior Justin Hall, who is eighth in team history with 163 career receptions and stands just outside the top 15 in receiving yards (1,585), paces the team with 16 receptions.


Already off to a fantastic start in his college career, Zonovan "Bam" Knight and fellow backs Ricky Person, Jr. and Jordan Houston should find plenty of holes to run through against the Ball State defense, which is in the top half of the FBS with 128.3 rushing yards allowed per game but near the bottom with seven touchdowns surrendered on the ground. Knight has led the Wolfpack in rushing in each game and his 77.7 yards per contest rank seventh in the ACC. Only one true freshman in the FBS - Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller - has rushed for more yards than Knight, a Bailey, N.C., native who is averaging an even six yards per carry and has found the end zone three times.


1. Sophomore K Christopher Dunn missed a 51-yard field goal attempt against West Virginia, snapping a streak of 19 straight made field goals, which was the longest in the FBS and the second longest in N.C. State history.

2. Thayer Thomas had a touchdown catch and pass against West Virginia, becoming the first N.C. State player to accomplish the feat since Rashard Smith did so against Boston College in 2013.

3. Doeren is 18-1 against the Mid-American Conference, including 17-1 as coach of Northern Illinois in 2011-12.

PREDICTION: N.C. State 41, Ball State 13

More college football scores