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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.

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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.

 

Cards Athletic Director Bill Scholl Hired by Marquette

Bill SchollRemember how awesome it was the last couple of years to have a competent Director of Athletics that deep down you knew was capable of doing the right thing at the right time and trusting completely? Put that feeling on pause because Bill Scholl and Ball State announced today that he is taking his talents to Milwaukee as the new Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Marquette.

To the BSU release on the matter…

Ball State Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bill Scholl has been named Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Marquette University, effective mid-October. Marquette announced his hiring Tuesday morning, Sept. 9.

“This was a very difficult decision to make because of the momentum Ball State’s athletics department has right now and the great people I have had the pleasure to meet and work with at Ball State and in Muncie,” Scholl said. “My wife, Julie, and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time here and will take great memories with us.

“All of our programs are in position to experience and sustain success in the very near future. A major reason Ball State athletics will excel moving forward is due to the exciting, new leadership of President Paul Ferguson. Despite having worked together for just one month, I am convinced he has the vision and great expectations for our athletic programs and will do all he can to provide the resources needed to continue the growth of Ball State athletics. The friendship we have formed was a major factor in making this decision so difficult.”

Scholl took over as athletics director at Ball State on April 30, 2012, and helped lead the Cardinals to new heights almost immediately. Ten total postseason appearances were made by eight different Ball State athletic programs in the last two years, and 13 teams placed either first or second in the Mid-American Conference during his tenure. Highlights of the postseason trips include back-to-back bowl game appearances by the football team for only the second time in school history and the women’s basketball team rebounded from nine wins the season before Scholl’s arrival to earn consecutive Women’s NIT appearances.

Ball State has had 19 specialty award winners from the MAC or Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association during Scholl’s tenure, including six league coaches of the year and five league players of the year. The Cardinals boasted four All-Americans in each of Scholl’s two years and the eight combined All-Americans represented the most in a two-year period at Ball State since the 1990s.

Scholl has hired seven head coaches, four of whom have already led their respective programs to first- or second-place finishes in the MAC, including league titles for baseball and softball. He has also helped lead the Cardinal Commitment capital campaign to raise funds to build and enhance facilities for the football program, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, and golf teams plus baseball and softball programs.

“I regret to see Bill and Julie leave Ball State so early in our time together, but I understand his motivation to seek the Marquette experience,” President Paul Ferguson said. “In my brief time here, the significant impact that Bill had on the athletics department, the university and the community was clearly demonstrated. I will personally miss his integrity and commitment to excellence. We all wish Bill well at Marquette. We will begin a nationwide search for a new athletics director and will find someone who will continue to lead our department forward. Thanks to the current state of our athletics department and the future of the MAC, I am quite confident the talent pool for this position will be deep.”

“I want to thank Ball State University for giving me the opportunity to become an athletics director,” Scholl said. “I will forever be indebted to the leadership of Ball State. I also would be remiss to not thank the incredible student-athletes at Ball State. How they represent this great university, not only in competition but in the classroom and the community, is nothing short of outstanding. Thank you for making my time here so enjoyable.”

QUOTES FROM BALL STATE HEAD COACHES ON BILL SCHOLL
Pete Lembo, Head Football Coach
“Bill Scholl is a great man who made a tremendous impact on our department’s culture, image on campus and fundraising efforts. I will be forever grateful for the great working relationship that we had the last two years. I wish him well in this new opportunity.”

Brady Sallee, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
“I’m thrilled for Bill and his family. This opportunity at Marquette is a great fit for him and I know he will knock their socks off up in Milwaukee! When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you learn how important great leadership is. Bill personifies exactly that. There is no doubt we will miss him greatly, but he has impacted our department deeply and set us all up for a tremendous amount of success. I wish him nothing but the best. Personally, I will always be thankful that he brought me to Ball State. My family and I are blessed to be Cardinals!”

James Whitford, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
“It was a great pleasure working with Bill over the past 16 months. He brought an energy and passion to work every day, and always had the best interest of his student athletes and coaches at heart. Bill is one of the best athletic directors in the country. He will be missed.”

Is this a bad thing? Well, it’s certainly not a good thing, as Scholl has captained the BSU athletics ship to a pretty good spot over the last two years. But whether or not this is a terrible thing is completely contingent on who the next hire is. Newly appointed president Paul Ferguson now has his first major hiring decision so let’s cross our fingers that New Bill Scholl (NBS) is a lot like Old Bill Scholl (OBS) and not at all like Old Tom Collins (OTC). Assuming that the reason for the departure is the simplest one: presumably more money at a more prestigious institution better prepared to compete at a championship level then I have no reason to think that the next AD will revert back to the incompetence that haunted the department in administrations past and take nothing serious away from the fact that an AD departed a program two years after being hired here.

Best of luck to Scholl and his family and he as he and his staff were always exceptionally helpful to the Pylon. I can only hope the next AD is as skilled and helpful as he was and champions the department to continued success on a similar sort of trajectory.

OTP will have some thoughts on possible candidates soon, but the OTPcast just got a whole lot more interesting tonight.

Can the Giants Get Back to Contending

nfl-logoThe 2013 NFL season for the New York Giants was certainly one to forget. After a dreadful start to the regular season, they got a little bit better towards the end. However, the hole they put themselves in was too much for any NFL team to handle. They must get off to a better start then 0-6 if they want any chance in 2014. So can they pull off a strong turnaround?

People in fantasy football are optimistic that having a new offensive coordinator and an improved offensive line will be enough for them to score on a more consistent basis. Eli Manning is coming off one of his worst seasons of his career, but he now has a new an exciting receiving target to throw to in Odell Beckham. Not only that, but there are a pair of running backs who he can count on to spread the field a little bit in Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings.

Manning certainly has not shown that he has turned things around in the preseason. He was only able to find the end zone one time in 19 drives, and that is concerning. He is starting to get up there in age and little bit, but people thought that he would age gracefully like his brother Peyton out in Denver.

In order for New York to contend in the NFC East, they need to find some wins early in the year. However, the schedule is not looking all that great for them. They opened the season up against Detroit, a team that will definitely test the offensive line for the Giants right away. After that, they must turn around and go up against another tough defense in the Arizona Cardinals. Houston and Washington round out the schedule in September, and the Giants must find a way to at least go 2-2 during the 1st part of the year.

New York might see improvement in their record, but contending is another story. The preseason has not been nearly convincing enough to buy into the franchise in 2014.

Final Word: Iowa

The Final Word 200I’m pressed for time this morning, but it’s time to close the book on Iowa and hit you with the first “Final Word” for 2014.

In some respects, the game on Saturday was the best and worst of Ball State football. The best, in that the program’s rise in recent years has given a glimmer of hope that road upsets against “name” teams from power conferences are possible if not expected and that disappointment isn’t reserved solely for MAC losses. It was the worst in that there is still a small minority of the fanbase where the prior shift hasn’t and probably won’t ever occur. Reading the message boards, Facebook, and Twitter after the final gun was a significantly frustrating experience.

The cries of “same old Ball State” or something to that effect are still out there. It’s disappointing. It’s completely offbase. But the saving grace through all of it is that the volume of those cries gets less and less as each successful season happens. So with so much good and so much bad, the final word for Iowa is…

dichotomy (n)

  1. separation of different or contradictory things: a separation into two divisions that differ widely from or contradict each other

Some other thoughts on the loss…

  • Went back and rewatched the game and come away with the same feeling I had on Saturday night: The defense played well enough to win that game. Stellar effort across the board from the defensive unit.
  • If I had asked you before the game started if we could fast forward to the beginning of the 4th quarter with a 10-point lead, I would almost guarantee all of us would have taken it and not thought twice about it. Normally, with Lembo-led teams, 4th quarter leads are fairly safe, but as we saw, when the running game isn’t moving the chains or given the chance to, that expectation might be misplaced.
  • I’ve never seen a non-premier-program QB get so crushed by the fanbase after only two games at the helm. I can only hope Ozzie Mann’s friends don’t let him read social media or the web at all, because to say he’s a popular figure in the fanbase now is not accurate. I’m not sure if that’s a combination of lust after Jack Milas or something else, but he did not gain a lot of fans on Saturday.
  • Probably the only person who gained less was Joey Lynch and it’s directly related to the same issues. The offense did struggle, but I think evaluating the proficiency of either Lynch or Mann after playing one of the best defenses in the Big Ten is a foolish endeavor.
  • If just one of Ball State’s field goal drives had ended up in a touchdown we are looking at a completely different last few minutes and in my opinion a likely different outcome. One drive was killed by penalties, the other an inability to convert, and that was probably the most important exchanges of the game. They are disappointing, sure, but how many times in the Lembo era has that not been the case? I would say almost all of them. Every team reverts back to the median eventually.

So now, it’s on to Indiana State, and there’s nothing better to take the stench off a pissed off fanbase than an FCS team. CPL built up the Sycamores in this week’s Coach’s Newsletter, but even I could tell it was half-assed at best.

Initial Iowa Thoughts

iowa_hawkeyes_logoWell, that certainly sucked.

I’m not going to go into significant detail tonight about this 13-17 loss at Iowa, because frankly, it wouldn’t be productive and I’d almost certainly regret it in the morning. So, we’re going to hit some high notes and then revisit tomorrow with our “Final Word” post, which is just going to be delightful to write, let me tell you.

First of all, the best of the day was the defense. They played a whale of a game and when you hold a Big Ten team to no offensive touchdowns until roughly 4 minutes to go in the game, you’ve done something. Those who point to the last two Iowa drives as some sort of indictment on the Ball State defense need to have their head examined or need to sit down and let someone explain football to them. Kudos to the defensive unit and it is remarkably unfortunate that the storyline of the game will be the Iowa rally against them and the win. That simply isn’t fair.

Second, I thought the offense today was pedestrian at best, predictable at worst, and the common mantra among the fanbase is to sling arrows at Joey Lynch and Ozzie Mann as two people incapable of moving the ball or having offensive success. Was Ozzie Football great today? No. 15/30 for 129 yards isn’t a stellar stat line but going along with his zero TDs was also his zero turnovers until the ill-fated last drive fumble. Fans that expect a new offensive coordinator and a new redshirt sophomore QB to just pick up right where Rich Skrosky and Keith Wenning left off are fooling themselves. It’s going to take time and let’s try to remember that next week is an FCS opponent in Indiana State and no one in the MAC will be as defensively sound as Iowa. Just something to think about. Is this absolving them of a lion’s share of responsibility for the loss today, no. But it is far too early in their careers to completely write off their potential to succeed.

Third, and it’s a big one, is Iowa did literally everything possible to beat themselves today. It’s easy to point to the nine points they left on the field and the penalties they committed on critical BSU conversions, but that would be grasping the low hanging fruit. Add some turnovers and their own confounding coaching decisions and it’s almost like they didn’t even want to win.

Some will point to this game and say, “Ball State covered!” or had Iowa “on the ropes”, but to be sure, there are some significant concerns about this football team that today brought to light. Are they fixable? Of course. Are they going to be? Well, I guess that’s the answer that will be the difference between enough wins to go bowling over the holidays or not. Final word tomorrow, but for now, it’s a bourbon with a pissed offness chaser because this is one that just slipped away.

If you’ve got thoughts, leave ‘em below.

Week 2 MAC 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.

This week’s MAC Roundtable host is the award-winning, well-read, skilled-in-the-bedroom blog that represents The Ball State University, OverThePylon.net. Those guys are so awesome. And humble. Yes, their lovemaking is only trumped by their humility. Participants in this week’s roundtable were (drumroll):

  1. Eagle Totem for all your EMU needs (via) (ET)
  2. Lets Go Rockets for your various Toledo related goings on (via) (LGR)
  3. Bull Rull for that school that shall not be named from New York (via) (BR)
  4. FalconBlog for the BGSU slant (via) (FB)
  5. Hustle Belt for general MACtion (via) (HB)

We Q’d they A’d, and then we chimed in with the obviously correct perspective for each of the various queries.

1) Now that the first weekend is over what did you learn about your team? Any unexpected surprises? Any lingering questions that are yet to be answered?

ET: Lingering questions? Yeah, we’ve got a few.

As for lessons learned, I think the key one is that, although no one in Ypsi wants to “embrace the process” again, this is not going to be a quick turnaround.

LGR: We learned that the QB situation is settled — gone are the days of multi-QBs playing split series like years past. Ely proved to have good strength, accuracy and the poise of proven leader in only his first game with the Rockets.

The lingering question to be answered is if the defense can step up from years past and put this team over the top. They looked a bit shaky in the opening minutes, but settled down in the second half of Saturday’s game against UNH. A big test for the Rocket defense will be this Saturday against Missouri.

BR: I am not totally surprised that UB had a gaping no mans land in their defensive scheme. The team moved Adam Redden to a safety spot and despite his gifts as an athlete transitioning to safety after being an all conference player *AT LINEBACKER* last season may have been a bit much to ask.

Factor in the way he was used and the play that torched UB early in the third quarter had to happen.

But I am surprised that after being torched and exposed on a long pass the team came out with the exact same alignment the next series only to get torched again. I suppose that I should not be surprised yet here I sit, shocked that we made zero adjustments to the one play the Dukes were using to really hurt us.

FB: You could say that. You could definitely say that. The answer is just this? Will BG be able to stop anyone. The defensive performance against WKU was simply awful, making Brandon Doughty look like Johnny Unitas. There was no coverage, no tackling and no pass rush. The single question for BG–not so much for this week–is whether the team will be able to have good enough defense to compete for a title, or whether they will have to win 52-45.

HB: Well, we learned that the run defense isn’t much better, and that Jarvion Franklin is the next beast of the MAC.

I loved seeing Franklin perform, especially against a Big Ten opponent. It was amazing, and it was a statement to the rest of the conference that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. His 160+ yards set a new Bronco high in the Fleck Era, and he looked powerful doing it. He made holes, broke tackles, and looked somewhat fast. Oh, and he’s a true freshman.

As for the defense, well, they struggled to stop a shaky run game by Purdue. Take nothing away from Mostert and Hunt, both superb athletes on their own, but the Purdue offensive line blows chunks. There were way too many long runs, and the additional loss of Donald Celiscar won’t help matters with the pass game probably opening up now as well. Just a bad week for the Bronco defense.

As for the MAC as a whole, we saw that Kent State and Ohio could be in trouble, Akron and Miami look to have even better seasons than last, Toledo and NIU still aren’t missing a beat (and maybe Ball State as well), and Central and Eastern still look like hot garbage against opponents they really shouldn’t. Oh, and UMass still sucks.

For BSU we learned that life after Jay Bateman on the defensive side of the ball may be a quite enjoyable. Kevin Kelly came in like gangbusters and shut Colgate down. That was nice. We also learned that Colgate sucks something awful so really any data we try to extrapolate out from that win is a mission in futility. Lingering questions for the Cards are offensive related and whether or not the Ozzie Football show is ready to take the MAC by storm.

2) After an opening weekend that saw more than a few tomato cans on MAC schedules, the big boys show up in Week 2 in the likes of Florida, Kentucky, Iowa, Mizzou, and Penn State. Any of the Power 5 get taken down by a MAC squad this weekend? Which one of the marquee games will have your attention?

ET: Well, obviously I’ll be watching EMU at Florida, and as a Kentucky alum I’ll be keeping an eye on Lexington (I remember 2004). I could honestly make a case for any MAC team to win their game this weekend (yes, even EMU…we’ll get there later this week), but if I had to pick one as the most likely MAC win, I’d take Ball State over Iowa. The Hawkeyes look vulneragle after a close call against Northern Iowa last weekend, and I think the Cardinals are entirely capable of getting the job done. Northern Illinois and even Akron may also have decent shots at beating their B1G opponents this weekend.

LGR: Obviously the Toledo vs Missouri game has our attention. Historically, the Rockets play well against big conference opponents at home — recently beating Iowa State, Kansas, Colorado and Pittsburgh. The Gary Pinkel dynamic will be interesting as he coached the Rockets from 1991 – 2000 so that makes for a good story line, if nothing else. We are realistic in our expectations from this game but know the Rockets have the potential to make it interesting.

We won’t discount CMU and Ball State’s chances of giving Purdue and Iowa a test, respectively. But the best MAC / OOC matchup will be at the Glass Bowl.

BR: Kentucky is clearly the most vulnerable team on that list, they are also playing against one of the MAC more consistently good teams. Not long ago the Bobcats took Penn State down and if I had to pick just one MAC team to pull an upset this week I would say Ohio is that team.

To be honest I find losses to Western Kentucky more distressing than a lack of wins against Missou.

FB: I think a number of these games could be really interesting. I’d give NIU a shot over Northwestern, Ball State over Iowa, Ohio over Kentucky and Akron over Penn State, if for no other reason than the travel Penn State has put in. Having said that, the highest profile assignment–and the only home game–is Missouri and UT. The Glass Bowl will be rocking, but I don’t see the Tigers being intimidated and I think they probably have enough.

HB: NIU vs Northwestern.

I also like Ball State to maybe knock off Iowa as well, but NIU should gain complete control over the state of Illinois with this game with both B1G houseguests struggling to do anything. NIU has been the top of the state, and now is the time to prove it against a shaky Wildcat squad. On a related note, have you been to that field? It’s nice. Also, Chicago kicks ass too so that’s a plus.

Ohio struggled to down Kent State, so I can’t see them beating a Kentucky squad. Mizzou seems too powerful for Toledo. Same goes for Penn State and Akron. Florida will stream-roll EMU barring another weather postponement.

Toledo and Missouri, I suppose, but even that has me quite nonplussed. Given the hamblasting that BG took at the hands of WKU and their injuries, the presumptive MAC frontrunner is now reeling. That means it’s someone’s conference to up and grab, and beating a P5 school would be a good way to do that.

3) As Bowling Green was getting destroyed by Western Kentucky, it raised an interesting conundrum among the MAC fans. Do you root against your rivals and hope they take a shanking or should we band together as one MAC and hope for massive upsets? Does the quality of the team matter?

ET: I’ve never been able to care quite enough about any of EMU’s MAC rivals to cheer against them in non-conference play. Maybe if EMU had really been good within the last 25 years I’d feel different though, because the Kentuckian in me always cheers against Tennessee. Always.

LGR: This is a complex issue without a really solid precedence. Let us start by saying that a BGSU loss is like a tiny, bonus Toledo victory and we love to see the Falcons in their rightful place (the losing end of the battle). But, bigger picture, every team needs the conference to be strong in order to help their own cause. Being the number one team in a crap conference doesn’t mean much — it doesn’t impress voters, selection panels, high school prospects, prospective opponents — the list goes on and on. Having a consistent product is very important and the Ws and Ls of the teams in a conference are directly reflected in the perception of the conference. A MAC team losing to an SEC team but putting up a fight does not negatively impact the conference perception (but allows for rivals’ amusement) while a MAC team losing to a lesser conference team without showing any signs of a fight reflects very poorly on the entire conference.

BR: If were going to be honest with ourselves watching a conference foe lose to an FCS team is like driving by a pile up on the highway. You really want to stop and look but at the same time you should feel a little guilty because something very bad happened.

So there are two rules for how we should approach non conference games.

#1 – Always and I mean *always* root for the MAC team out of conference, even if its Ball State!
#2 – You are then somewhat obligated to root for the teams beaten by a MAC squad to have a great year. Even if it means rooting for Indiana because it would make the Cards win look better.

A small part of me enjoyed watching the Cards fall to Liberty a few years back. That little bit of joy needs to be stamped out with the knowledge that it does not do Buffalo any good to see Gardner Webb beat Akron or Nichols sink PJ Fleck’s boat.

Rather than help UB MAC our of conference losses hurt the Bulls, and everyone else in the MAC. When UB had a dumpster fire season in 2010 it was capped with a loss to an Akron team that… Wait for it…. Lost to Gardner Webb! Talk about going from Bad to Worse.

I’d love to see everyone in the MAC go 4-0 out of conference, even if it makes Bowl Selection difficult and raises the chances of getting a “Toledo Job” when the post season games are being handed out.

FB: Are we talking about Toledo? Because then I have to confess that when it comes to that, I don’t care that much about the MAC. Other than Toledo, I root for MAC teams when they play out of conference games. Quality of teams doesn’t really matter, though there is a slight nuance. I root for our teams to beat good teams and not to lose to FCS teams.

HB: Rivals? No, unless the game is REALLY huge (as in, your team wins money too if they win). Otherwise, never rivals. Everyone else in the MAC? You cheer for no matter what in my opinion. It looks good for the conference, and if your team is doing good, a win over them makes things even better.

I don’t care how much money stands to be made, if a team I feel like is a semi-rival of BSU, I will openly despise them and do so without apology. These teams include: Buffalo, Northern Illinois, CMU, Miami, WMU. That money will never flow back into my pockets and after BIG GUVMINT takes their bite out of the taxes, conference teams will end up with approximately $4.52. My hatred is worth far far more than that. $7 at least.

OTPcast 6.7

OTP Cast Logo200Because you know I’m all about those Cards,
‘Bout those Cards ’bout those Cards, no Hawkeyes
I’m all ’bout those Cards,
’bout those Cards, no Hawkeyes
I’m all ’bout those Cards,
’bout those Cards, no Hawkeyes
I’m all ’bout those Cards,
’bout those Cards

Jason and Alan are back to revisit Colgate and the season-opening win and the defensive coming out party for Kevin Kelly. They then welcome on the always entertaining Adam Jacobi from Iowa Hawkeye hangout BlackHeartGoldPants.com where we learn what to expect from Iowa, things to do in Iowa City, and what are reasonable expectations for Cards fans. Finally, the fellas close it out with a look around the MAC and the nation for week 1 and talk a little about the cloud and the photos within it. It’s an OTPcast to not be missed.

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…

In case that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for Iowa-Ball State chatter, you can listen to Fearless Leader on the BlackHeartGoldPodcast here.

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