DeKALB – The last time NIU faced Ball State, the Huskies cruised to a 63-17 win at home last year.
The last time the Huskies faced a Ball State team with a healthy Riley Neal and James Gilbert, it was a much closer affair, a 31-24 Huskie win in Muncie in 2015.
With Neal and Gilbert back for the Cardinals (2-3 overall, 1-0 MAC), the Huskies (2-3, 2-0) are still looking for a 10th straight win over Ball State to retain the Bronze Stalk.
NIU coach Rod Carey said Neal has plenty of weapons with Gilbert (73 carries, 353 yards, four touchdowns), Caleb Hunter (36-178) and Malik Dunner (21-130-2).
"I have the utmost respect for this guy," Carey said. "He has some weapons around him with those three backs. The wide receiver that lit it up last game is a high school teammate of his. They're O-line is athletic, they move around very well. ... This is by far the biggest challenge we've had defensively as far as a complete offense."