After beating Wisconsin, No. 11 Penn State meets Ball State

Field Level Media

September 07, 2021 at 8:30 pm.

After posting a quality road win in its season opener, No. 11 Penn State will return home to face Ball State in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions (1-0) defeated then-No. 12 Wisconsin last weekend, forcing three turnovers en route to a 16-10 Big Ten triumph. Coach James Franklin’s team held the ball for just 17:09 (compared with 42:51 for the Badgers) but mustered enough offense in the second half after the teams went into the locker room in a scoreless tie.

“Overall, a gutsy win on the road against a really good opponent. … A lot to build on. A lot to learn from,” Franklin said.

Saturday’s matchup will mark Penn State’s first game in front of fans at Beaver Stadium since November 2019.

“It would really be powerful if we started a sellout streak in Beaver Stadium, create a home field advantage like no other in college football!” Franklin tweeted Sunday. “Let’s come together as a community like never before and show the world why this is ‘Happy Valley’! #WeAre Let’s do it TOGETHER!”

Sean Clifford passed for 247 yards and a touchdown in the Nittany Lions’ opener. Jahan Dotson accounted for 102 of those yards, snagging five receptions, including a 49-yard touchdown.

Noah Cain contributed eight carries for 48 yards and a touchdown and also caught five passes, matching Dotson for the team lead.

Those names undoubtedly are familiar to a Ball State team that went 7-1 en route to the Mid-American Conference championship last season and topped Western Illinois 31-21 in its 2021 opener.

Drew Plitt passed for two touchdowns as part of a 188-yard performance through the air in that game, while Justin Hall was his favorite target with eight catches for 137 yards and two TDs. Will Jones registered 93 rushing yards, including a score, to fuel the Cardinals’ ground game.

Ball State (1-0), like Penn State, got off to a quiet start in its opener. The Cardinals were tied with the Leathernecks 7-7 at halftime before the teams combined for 38 points after intermission.

“Obviously we are 1-0, and that is the most important thing that happened tonight,” Ball State coach Mike Neu said. “But we have a lot of things we need to clean up. We didn’t play a great first half and put the defense in a bad position. However, I was proud of the way we came back out in the second half, established the line of scrimmage, and did a great job of controlling the clock.”

The Cardinals return 23 starters (including special teams) from last year’s squad — and those players combine for more than 400 career starts.

This is the first-ever matchup between Penn State and Ball State. But Penn State is 27-3 against current MAC members.

Nittany Lions linebacker Ellis Brooks will miss the first half against Ball State after being called for targeting and ejected during the fourth quarter against Wisconsin.

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