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MAC Blogger Roundtable

MacRoundTableAdmittedly, the MAC blogosphere has been an evolving little gem over the last several years. I guess as the MACtion on the field hit fever pitch, the MACtion on the web stepped up their game as well. What has also evolved is the MAC Roundtable. It’s not like King Arthur’s with turkey legs and wenches running around in corsets, because let’s be honest: turkey legs are a gigantic pain in the ass to eat and the service region for the MAC doesn’t lend itself well to females capable of squeezing into anything other than a giant rubbermaid trash can (Exception: the state of Indiana and BSU specifically). Have you seen some of the slumpbusters from Michigan and Ohio? Gooo. I’d rather spend an evening with a lit piece of sandpaper. But I digress.

The host of this week’s roundtable is Carter, from Eagle Totem, your one-stop shop for all things EMU related. That’s Eastern Michigan the school, not emus the animals, but with the season EMU is likely to have, writing about animals may be more satisfying. Off we go!

1. This weekend the MAC suffered four losses by 38 points or more, with Massachusetts losing 48-7, Bowling Green losing 68-17, EMU losing 73-14, and Northern Illinois losing 52-14. Is the payday worth the price in reputation?

I guess I would argue that the thumpings this weekend didn’t diminish the reputation because there wasn’t some stellar shiny reputation before those curbstompings. Usually, there are a couple good to decent MAC schools per year, but when they go up against real teams past week 1, they aren’t given much of a shot unless they are the special kind of MAC team like NIU the last couple years or BSU the last couple years. I guess my thoughts on MAC honor given the losses would be sort of like Chris Jericho doing a shoot on Stephanie McMahon when he first came to the WWE. After her husband came to her aid while Y2J was destroying her verbally, Jericho said to Triple H, “It must be hard to defend the honor of a woman who has none.” Then he called her a bottom feeding trash bag ho and we all laughed. Oh, good times.

2. How has your perception of the conference race changed since the pre-season? Which team(s) have most disappointed and which have most impressed you so far?

I’d say it’s safe to say that I’ve been impressed with NIU more than any other, thanks largely to the fact that they were the first team to three wins and frankly, I expected some level of drop off. That’s going to happen, eventually, right? This damn team can’t be that good for that long forever. It’s like the guy on your floor in college that was great at sports, exceptionally muscular, got all the chicks, had a great singing voice, and came from a wealthy family. I spent an inordinate amount of time hoping that guy got syphilis and died. You can die from that, right?

In terms of disappointment, I’d say Ball State has been significantly disappointing for me personally. We knew things were going to take a step back but suffice to say none of us expected the drop-off to be so significant. I’m not used to this level of disappointment and unfulfilled feelings. I now know how all of my girlfriends have felt at some point or another.

3. If your team could replay one down from this fall and get a different result, what down and why?

I would think that every Ball State fan’s answer would be the same on this one: the final Indiana State play that was perhaps the oddest play I’ve seen in…. forever. It was a cacophony of suck where QBs were getting tackled inbounds with no timeouts and under 15 seconds to play, offensive linemen were dawdling back to the line, someone handed the ball to a teammate rather than an official, and then the official just dropped it as the clock ticked down to zero. If it wasn’t so heartbreaking it would be funny, but it is just sad. Sad that BSU had such a comedy of errors and sad the MAC employs such incompetent boobs to wear referee uniforms on Saturdays.

Got ideas of your own to the above questions? Comment section. And… go.

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OTPcast 6.9

OTP Cast Logo200A long, long time ago
I can still remember,
How the Sycamores made me cry.
I knew if I had my chance
That we could podcast, take a stance
And maybe Cards fans wouldn’t die.

But Ozzie Mann he had me worried
When he passed he looked so hurried.
Tough games in the rearview
Toledo makes me so blue
I can’t remember if I cursed
I definitely walked out mouth pursed
The day… the Cardinals… lost.

Jason and Alan are back to go over the crushing Indiana State loss and turn the page to Toledo. Where do the Cards go from here? What’s the answer? They also touch on the Shamrock Series, their Playoff Final 4, and the no good weekend for the MAC. They close with the worst couple weeks in the history of the NFL. All that and more in this week’s OTPcast!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Leave us a rating on iTunes if you like what you hear! Enjoy…

MAC Blogger Roundtable

MacRoundTableAdmittedly, the MAC blogosphere has been an evolving little gem over the last several years. I guess as the MACtion on the field hit fever pitch, the MACtion on the web stepped up their game as well. What has also evolved is the MAC Roundtable. It’s not like King Arthur’s with turkey legs and wenches running around in corsets, because let’s be honest: turkey legs are a gigantic pain in the ass to eat and the service region for the MAC doesn’t lend itself well to females capable of squeezing into anything other than a giant rubbermaid trash can (Exception: the state of Indiana and BSU specifically). Have you seen some of the slumpbusters from Michigan and Ohio? Gooo. I’d rather spend an evening with a lit piece of sandpaper. But I digress.

The host of this week’s roundtable are the gents from LetsGoRockets, the Toledo blog. Normally in this space I give the host site a little good-natured ribbing but considering the beating these guys will have to endure on Saturday at the hands of the fightin’ Football Cardinals, let’s just get to it.

1) Three weeks into the season, discuss the biggest surprise (positive or negative) with your respective team?

Where to start. The biggest surprise has been without question the defensive performance. It’s been productivity unseen in ages in Muncie and benchmarks about points allowed and yardage that have been around for decades are dropping like crazy. That’s a good thing. It’s unfortunate that the year the defense decides to put up a world-class effort, the offense can’t stop stepping on its dick every fourth or fifth play. From the playcalling right on down to the execution, this season on the offensive side of the ball is reminiscent of Will Muschamp’s first season at Florida.

2) If you could augment your team with any one player (or coach) from any team in the country, who would you select and why?

If BSU had a quarterback that had a deep threat potential the offense would be off and running. Therefore, I’ll take Bryce Petty and his busted back, a thank you very much.

3) What, if any, game plan changes do you expect to see from your respective team as we dive in to the conference schedule?

There are two critical game plan edits that I’d like to see the Legendary Lembo Crew make. The first is throwing out the “Throw a short pass at the receiver’s feet” play, because that one isn’t working out as well as we thought it would. The second would be the defense of “allow a big-ass seam down the middle of the field that the opposing quarterback can abuse all day” probably needs to take a time out as well. The biggest gameplan edit I’d like to recommend would be “Win this game” because it seems like that is a sustainable strategy initiative.

4) It’s time for the first MAC Blogger ranking of the season – rank all 13 teams in the conference.

At this point, ranking MAC teams is a poopshow of futility but let it not be said that OTP was above getting muddy from time to time. The most correct MAC rankings you’re likely to find…

13. Kent State
12. UMass
11. Miami
10. EMU
9. Buffalo
8. BSU
7. Ohio6. WMU
5. Akron
4. Toledo
3. CMU
2. BG
1. NIU

Better Know: Toledo

ToledoRocketsLogoLarge

The adage of “Put up or shut up” certainly seems applicable to the Fighting Football Cardinals this weekend, as they go on the road to the Glass Bowl to face the Toledo Rockets with a pretty high likelihood that the rest of the season hangs in the balance. With a demoralizing loss to Indiana State following a heartbreaker at Iowa, this team is on the precipice of one of two roads. Either the losses are fuel for the team going forward in a band-them-together-to-come-out-stronger kind of deal or they become an excuse to let the season unravel and with it, the program building of the last three seasons is swiftly detonated. So yes, this game, and more importantly than the outcome, the performance within it, is kind of large.

Before we get into the whys and the hows of the game itself, it’s important to know the whos, namely the Toledo Rockets and their season to date, their young up and coming coach, and their replacement skill players that seem to be just as talented if not more so than the player they are replacing. If you thought when starting QB Phillip Ely went down with an injury against Missouri that Toledo became irrelevant, then you have another think coming. Replacement Logan Woodside torched Cincinnati and I am sure is licking his chops looking at the completions to the seam in the middle of the field that Indiana State found so successful over and over and over. Kickoff on Saturday is 7:00PM and it’s nut cutting time in the Glass Bowl for the Cardinals. The coaches are working on gameplanning, the players focused on practicing, but it’s time for you to better know Toledo!

Team: Toledo
Record: 1-2 (0-0 MAC)
Ranking: Unranked
Head Coach: Matt Campbell
Series: Tied! 19-19-1
Last Meeting: BSU won 31-24 in 2013 in Muncie

Toledo Head Coach Matt Campbell…
… is in his 3rd full season as the head coach at Toledo
… owns a career head coaching record of 18-11 (11-5 MAC)
… has spent all but two years in his 12-year coaching career in the MAC (4 of them at BG, 6 of them at Toledo)
… describes himself as “relentless”. That’s cute.
… is the second-youngest head coach in the FBS at age 34.

When it comes to Toledo versus Ball State…
… the Cardinals are riding a two-game winning streak, each coming by exactly 7 points.
… in games played in Toledo, the Rockets have an 11-7-1 all-time series lead.
… Toledo head coach Matt Campbell is yet to notch a W against the Cardinals as a head coach.
… this year’s game will be streamed on ESPN3.com or the WatchESPN app.

The Toledo Rockets…
… were picked in the preseason poll at media day to win the MAC West.
… lost starting junior QB Phillip Ely against Missouri on Sept. 6.
… replaced Ely with sophomore Logan Woodside who went 27-40 for 322 yards, 3TDs, and 0 INTs against Cincinnati.
… trailed at one point to Cincy 34-0, and mounted a furious comeback to make it 41-34. The final was 58-34.
… have a stout running game as well, as sophomore Kareem Hunt gained 101 yards on 12 carries against Cincy. He’s rushed for 100 yards or more every game this season and eight different times over his young career.
… also lost to SEC foe Missouri at home 49-24 in a game much closer than the score would indicate.
… defeated New Hampshire 54-20 to open their 2014 campaign.

Final Word: Indiana State

The Final Word 200I took Sunday completely off from football. Mostly because the one day round trip from my home outside Lexington, KY to Muncie is a doozy but also to hopefully find some sort of perspective or insight into why Saturday happened, how to be at lease somewhat positive going forward, and where to go from here. What I found was quite honestly the same feeling I had on Saturday walking out of Scheumann Stadium, insomuch as Indiana State was considerably better than I thought they were and for the time being, this version of Ball State is not as skillful in their execution as I expected and the fanbase as a whole has grown accustomed to.

People were quick to howl a Chicken Little-esque “The sky is falling!” sort of refrain after the game, pointing to the woes of 2009 as some sort of charted course that this team is following after another remarkable season with a roster cherry-picked by the NFL. To adopt that mantra would be overlooking some pretty critical things though, like how the starters on the offensive line for 2014 may be similar in talent and experience to 2009, but the level of depth in 2014 blows ’09 away. Logically, depth would usually mean a more competitive practice environment, more options for the coaching staff should skill not translate to the game, and so on.

Speaking of practice, the underlying message from Coach Pete Lembo after the Indiana State game seemed to be that this version of the team isn’t using practice time as effectively as possible, and more importantly, expecting the games to go the way they have for the last three seasons. And who can blame them, really? Ask yourself if for the prior years in the Pete Lembo Experience if given a one score game, two minutes to go, and the ball you’d even be the least bit worried?

I understand that fans and student athletes are markedly different. The sheer make up of both is what makes them what they are. Student athletes beat on tires in Coach Feeley’s dungeon. Fans grill brats in the parking lot and do 12 ounce curls over and over on gameday. But neither group is immune to the pratfalls of the other. Student athletes had an upclose view as this program turned itself around over the last few years. Why wouldn’t they believe? Why wouldn’t the “The Process” yield the same sort of results? I can’t blame them for thinking it. I do think Saturday served as a painful reminder to both that this team and last year’s team is vastly different. Even CPL said as much post-game. “We’re at where we’re at, folks. Nobody’s happy.”

So, your final word for Saturday’s Indiana State loss…

counfounding (v., present participle)
cause surprise or confusion in (someone), especially by acting against their expectations

Some other thoughts and notes on the loss…

  • In the last 21 games, this was only Ball State’s 4th loss. Whatever you may be feeling about Saturday, that sort of perspective is important
  • The loss snapped a nine-game home winning streak at The Scheu
  • Ozzie Mann set career records in completions (24), attempts (46), and yards (266). Whether or not you believe a redshirt sophomore quarterback who has had some accuracy issues this season should have been throwing it 46 times is another story
  • In the three-game stretch of Colgate, Iowa, and Indiana State, BSU has allowed just 247 total rushing yards. That’s the lowest three-game total since October 2009 (Toledo, Temple, BG: 242)
  • Speaking of defense, the 54 points the unit has allowed to start this season is the lowest through three games since the 1995 season.
  • Quake Edwards currently sits 432 yards away from being Ball State’s career rushing leader

Football Announces Student Fan Bus to Toledo

BSULogoLet it not be said that the powers that be at Ball State are not trying new things to increase student buy-in for the football program. Just when you were on the fence about whether or not to show up to this weekend’s pending MAC opener against Toledo, the athletics mothership has made it remarkably easy for your decision. From BSU…

Our football season is off to an exciting start and we have an opportunity for YOU! Help us take our Cardinal spirit on the road!

This Saturday (Sept. 20) we will be traveling to Toledo, Ohio to cheer on our Cardinals as we take on the Toledo Rockets in our Mid-American Conference opener.

We are looking to take 100 of our most spirited Ball State students. The cost is $30 and this includes transportation to and from the game on a charter bus and your game ticket. Food is not included, but you are welcome to bring a snack on the bus or purchase food at the game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The buses will depart from Gate 1 of Worthen Arena at 3 p.m. and return immediately after the conclusion of the game.

To reserve your spot, please e-mail thenest@bsu.edu or stop by our table in the Atrium from September 15-18 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hurry, spots are limited!

Payment must be made by Thursday, Sept. 18. Cash or check is accepted. Please make all checks payable to Ball State University. If you have any questions, please contact Kevin Thurman at kathurman@bsu.edu or 765-285-8392

So there you go, students. Show up, go crazy, be sure to bathe when you get home. That Toledo funk has a tendency to be quite clingy.

Postgame: Indiana State 27 Ball State 20

BSULogoMUNCIE, IN – In case you were unaware, this Ball State team is a very different beast all together than the greatest show on field turf that we were all witness to the past several seasons. With inexperience comes mistakes, with mistakes come losses, and today saw the Cards live up to their end of that equation with a 27-20 loss at the hands of in-state rival and FCS member Indiana State.

The Sycamores played like equals if not some times betters, and BSU again found creative ways to wrestle defeat from the jaws of victory. If you had told me before the day started that my day would end with watching the Indiana State coaching staff make their way out of the pressbox dancing and screaming like teenagers at a Taylor Swift concert, I’d say you were crazy. But “crazy” got redefined today.

It was a comedy (or tragedy) depending on your perspective) of errors and oddities all day. For example:

  • Against an FCS squad, BSU fails to hit the century mark for net yards rushing.
  • The total offensive yards for both squads? Dead even.
  • 16 total punts? 16 total punts.
  • BSU defense holds ISU to 3-16 on 3rd downs and 44 net yards rushing.

The storyline of this game (at least to me) was the Indiana State passing game. It was incredibly well-timed and well-executed and Mike Perish is an FBS talent to be sure. He ended up 25-43 for 317 yards and 3 TDs and it felt like significantly more than that. Kudos to ISU for winning the victory bell. They earned it.

We’ll have  more on this either later tonight or tomorrow, but for now I’m facing a 5 hour drive and am completely and without question a mixture of anger, disappointment, frustration, and a whole bunch of other things. This one hurts. This one is going to sting for a while. I can’t even imagine how the players and coaches feel.

Ball State-Indiana State Live Post

OTP Liveblog200So we’re going to try something  a little different here at the Pylon this week. Rather than run a liveblog that’s cumbersome and tricky to navigate, we’re going to have a rolling post, this post, that will get updated as the game goes on. If you’d like to participate, drop a comment in the comment section and join along. Reminder that your first one will have to be approved, but that won’t take more than a minute or two today. Refresh the page and the new things will show up below, but you probably already knew that.

PREGAME
* The drivers in New Castle are the absolute worst. I’ve driven in DC rush hour with no A/C in July and would rather do that than have to go through that town and those people ever again.

1st QUARTER
* Indiana State’s offensive line is working the Ball State defensive front. Three of their first four plays resulted in first downs. That cannot continue.
* Field goal ISU makes it 3-0 and if all their drives result in 3 instead of 7, that would just be swell.
* Big return by Eric Patterson and the Cards have 34 yards to paydirt. Short fields are a good thing today.* 6 plays later, Quake finds the end zone from a yard out. 7-3 good guys.
* Defense holds Indiana State to a three-and-out and the BSU offense can go back to work. 7:47 to go in the first quarter, BSU ball on their own 34.
* ISU does the same along with an Ozzie Football sack, BSU punts the Fighting Trees down to their own 24.
* BSU defense forces a three and out, BSU takes over after a Sycamore punt at their own 34. Someone needs to let ISU know that BSU is Punter U. YOU CANNOT WIN THIS PUNTFIGHT, TREEBROS.
* Ozzie Football had a couple of nice throws on this drive, neither of which were caught. Another drive, another BSU punt. Rushing and passing both looking a bit pedestrian.
* After a stalled ISU drive at midfield, BSU takes over at their 23. Two rushes, and it’s 1st and 10 on the 41. This Cardinal rushing attack is like good bourbon. Use it frequently enough and it’s going to work wonders.

2ND QUARTER
* The first drive of the 2nd was a confounding drive. Mix of great gashing runs against stops at the line. Couple of very poor pass decisions and one beautiful ball for the TD. Such is life, I suppose, when you have a first-year starter under center.
* The Indiana State TD drive, culminating in a 25 yard TD toss, was WAY too easy. Lot of separation for the Sycamore WRs against the BSU secondary and Mike Perish is a good enough QB to take advantage of it.
* Shout out to the crowd today. Fantastic turnout.
* Big series for Ozzie Football with 2:20 to go and BSU ball on the ISU 40. Have to get points on this drive. If that happens, BSU is at minimum two scores up with the ball to open the 2nd half.
* After failing to convert the drive, the oddest of things happen. BSU muffs a miskicked punt, ISU recovers, then marches down the field where BSU is called for pass interference in the end zone. Trees follow that with a TD pass and lead at the half 17-14. Last three minutes of this half was just as bad as the last four minutes at Iowa.
* On the panic scale, I’m not like, totally freaked out. But this offense has got to move the ball in the 2nd half. It is nut-cutting time for Ozzie Football because the one-dimensional feed it to the running backs strategy isn’t a sustainable kind of thing.

3RD QUARTER
* Needing a statement on the first play of the second half? Holding penalty on the return and the drive will start on the 9. Chalk up another unforced error that puts the Cardinals in a hole. Biggest reason for a three and out and the continuation of PUNT WAR 2014 after a shanked Cardinal punt gives ISU great field position at the BSU 43.
* Indiana State essentially moving the ball at will through the air. It is extremely possible that this comes down to whomever doesn’t turn the ball over down the stretch.
* I will be the first to admit that I underestimated this ISU team, but this BSU team should not be trailing an FCS squad under any circumstance or situation at home. Completely inexcusable.

4th QUARTER
* Penalties, sacks, poor throws, general ineptitude all around. Whether it’s ISU is better than expected, BSU is worse, or the matchup led to one team playing head and shoulders above the other is unknown.
* I need to go back and watch the tape, but it almost appears like the game is moving too fast for Ozzie Football. I know this is his first year starting, but this is his 3rd year in the program.
* As it stands while I write this, BSU is 69 yards away from the end zone with 3:43 to go. And for the first time in a while, I have not very much confidence this works out.
* Final in Muncie after perhaps the craziest final play since maybe Arizona State/Wisconsin

OTPcast 6.8

OTP Cast Logo200It wouldn’t be OTP without technical difficulties from time to time, and the creating of this week’s OTPcast took the cake. Alas, no witty rewritten song lyrics and a later publish time than usual, but you have it for your drive to Muncie on Saturday or for your tailgate listening pleasure. This week, Alan and Jason break down the Iowa game and what the takeaways were from the first loss of the season. They also look ahead to Indiana State and talk about AD Bill Scholl announcing his resignation from BSU this week. They then move on to a terrible weekend for the B1G and the final Notre Dame/Michigan contest. Last but certainly not least they walk through Jason’s tech corner where you get all the news about your pending iLife and introduce a new game at the Pylon, What State is the Headline From. All that and more in OTPcast 6.8!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Leave us a rating on iTunes if you like what you hear! Enjoy…

Better Know: Indiana State

indiana state sycamores logoAdmittedly, I have taken the Indiana State Sycamores a bit for granted. There’s just been so many other things going on. Bill Scholl announced he was taking his talents to Milwaukee. We’ve been pounding the pavement on a couple of big forthcoming stories on The Star Press and the AD Search (unrelated). America’s Got Talent is down to the Final 6 (Team Mat Franco) and Big Brother is down to the Final 4 (#TeamBeastModeCowboy). Also, it’s Indiana State. Are they really worth getting our britches in a twist about?

However, I would be remiss and be doing you, dear friend of the Pylon, a disservice by not adequately preparing you for the Fighting Sycamores of ISU. Therefore, it’s time to Better Know: Indiana State!

Team: Indiana State Sycamores
Record: 1-1
Ranking: Unranked
Head Coach: Mike Sanford
Series: 38-23-1, in favor of BSU
Last Meeting: 2003, a 31-7 BSU win

Indiana State coach Mike Sanford
… is 18-55 overall as a head coach and 2-12 in his second season at Indiana State.
… has a career road record of 3-33.
… will be coaching against BSU for the first time in his career on Saturday.

When it comes to Indiana State versus BSU
… the Cardinals have a 20-7-1 in games played in the metropolis of Muncie.
… 6 games were played in the Hoosier Dome. BSU won 4.
… there’s a traveling trophy known as The Victory Bell that the winner gets to keep.
… the Cards have won 6 straight against the Trees, last losing in 1987…. the Trees last beat the Cards in Muncie in 1982.

The Indiana State Sycamores
… opened their season with a 28-7 loss at Indiana.
… had a much more successful Week 2, defeating Tennessee Tech 49-14.
… watched as senior QB Mike Perish went for 383 yards passing and three TDs while running for another in that week 2 win, good enough for the 4th best passing game in ISU history.
… are 38-73-1 all-time against the current membership of the MAC.
… last beat a MAC team in 2001, triumphing over EMU.
… have compiled 242 yards on the ground in total for their first two contests. For comparison’s sake, Quake Edwards alone has racked up 196 for the Cardinals.

 

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