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Monday, December 8, 2008
GMAC Bowl: Ball State (12-1) vs. Tulsa (10-3)


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Jan. 6, 8 p.m., (ESPN)

Both Tulsa and Ball State were picked to win their respective conferences and both fell short. For Ball State, its loss to Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game cost the Cardinals a perfect season. Tulsa, which started the season 8-0, lost three of its final five games.

Now it's a matter of which team can rebound.

Both of these offenses are similar in the fact that both have potent passing games, can diversify with the running game and can score quickly. Both Tulsa quarterback David Johnson and Ball State quarterback Nate Davis rank in the top 15 in total offense and both teams rank in the top 11 in total offense.

So what's going to set these teams apart?

As both teams learned in their respective championships, defense and turnovers are the way to victory. Ball State has the slightly better of the two defenses -- allowing 347.92 yards per game as opposed to 391.15 yards per game by Tulsa -- and these teams have played similarly potent offenses. But Ball State has gained 23 turnovers as opposed to losing 15, and Tulsa has gained 22 as opposed to losing 30.