Ball State vs. New Hampshire
Location: Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN
Television: Online streaming via BallStateSports.com
What a difference a week makes for Cardinal fans. 6 days ago, people were brimming with excitement, ready for the season, ready to stomp ass and take names. Then came the Mean Green and Cardinal Nation was fractured into a million little pieces. The fan spectrum ranges now from wildly unfounded optimism to equally wild and just as unfathomable pessimism, and virtually everything in between.
Do I fall in the camp of “Hell… we’re still going 11-1. Suck it Central!!!”. No. Do I fall in the “Honey, have you seen my pitchfork and angry mob clothes?”. Also, no. There’s a ton of room under that bell curve and that’s where most fans find themselves. On the edge of their proverbial seats, hoping last game was an anomaly in an otherwise successful season. We shall see on Saturday.
Ball State University Cardinals
Location: Muncie, IN
Record: 0-1 (0-0)
Last Week: L, 10-20, vs. North Texas
University of New Hampshire Wildcats
Location: Durham, NH
Last Week: W, 24-14, vs. St. Francis, PA
The Wildcats are coming off a solid offensive performance last week, in which they started strong but fizzled late. Gamesmanship from coach Sean McDonnell? An inability to play well for entire games? Who knows. The offense was paced last week by Sean Jellison, a RB who also is capable of catching passes out of the backfield and creating highlights in space. Sort of Reggie Bush-ish in his ability to make defenders miss. However, that game last week wasn’t against D1 athletes. It is my hope that Jellison and company are in for a rude awakening against a defense hungry to prove they do not, in fact, suck ass.
For Ball State, the offense got a little off kilter last week. Sort of like choosing to drive this solar powered hybrid which has great potential rather than the F-150 in your garage that starts like a dream. Hence, Quale Lewis was not the straw that stirred the drink last week. Quale wasn’t even the paper umbrella stuffed in it for looks. This week, it’s time for Quale to get the carries he deserves (read: more than 15) and become the driving force behind this offense. No knock on Page, as the young man will get consistently better, but having a featured back opens up the passing game and creates single coverage and less pressure. All good things for a QB attempting to find their legs.
Advantage: If Quale is the offensive centerpiece, it’s BSU. If he isn’t, it’s a push. I think Stan learned his lesson and you’ll see Quale early, often, and dominant.
The defense for UNH last week held St. Francis to under 100 yards on the ground. But I’ve met Ball State. And St. Francis, you’re no Ball State. The defense for UNH is formidable and experienced, and if last year tells us anything it’s that this team is not the usual FCS sacrificial lamb that’s quite popular in major football stadiums this time of year. Last season the Wildcats ranked 30th in FCS against the pass and 17th against the rush, and this year they’re off to a bang up start at both. Of special note is Safety Hugo Suoza, who ran roughshod over St. Francis to the tune of a blocked field goal and a recovered fumble.
The Cardinal defense has taken an absolute beating over the last week for their performance against North Texas. The Mean Green did pretty much whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and however they wanted, regardless of the BSU defenders. Running, passing, it didn’t matter much. The Cards were gashed on the ground and taken advantage of through the air because of a large cushion by the BSU secondary. That absolutely has to stop. On the good side of things, Sean Baker picked off a pass in the end zone. Kudos.
Advantage: Push. Depends on which BSU defense shows up. If they play like they’re capable of playing, then they dominate. If they play like last week, they don’t. And I begin to seriously worry.
New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell is in his 11th year. His record is 71-49. Since taking over, he’s built New Hampshire into a consistent FCS powerhouse, and owns several victories over FBS schools. He’s an alum of the program, and has a 47-17 record in the last 5 years. Impressive to say the least.
Ball State’s Stan Parrish is heading for his 2nd game as head coach of the Cardinals, and it would be nice if the real Stan Parrish would stand up. Which Coach do we have? The one who led the offense at BSU to record breaking seasons and two Bowl trips? Or the one who hasn’t won a game as a head coach since October 18th, 1986.
Advantage: Push. What McDonnell has done at UNH is admirable. I also choose to focus on the OC years, where Stan shat all over MAC defenses.
For New Hampshire, they’re gunning for their next victim in a long string of FBS teams they’ve knocked off. Since 2004 UNH has played four FBS teams on the road – Rutgers, Northwestern, Marshall and Army – and beaten them all. Additionally, their conference in FCS has had their share of success this season as there have been three wins by Colonial Athletic Association teams against FBS teams last week – Villanova over Temple, William & Mary over Virginia and Richmond over Duke.
For the Cardinals, it is a chance at redemption in their last home game for nearly a month. The fans are worried, the game last week was a let down, and the balance of the season is on a precarious ledge in need of rescue. Now is the time.
New Hampshire: Wild E. Cat
Ball State: Charlie Cardinal
Advantage: Dios Mio. Wild E. Cat? How about Shit E. Lee-Dunn. Or Awful E. Dressed. Newsflash… when your mascot apparently not only took his name, but also his look from Wile E Coyote, that’s a bad sign. Consider the Ball State offense the Acme rocket about to blow up. Now at Macy’s for Halloween – Pseudo-intimidating generic feline #5, gray with stubby fangs. Throw an oversized university t-shirt on him (or her… meeooow!), and you have an instant mascot for the budget-conscious and brain-numb higher education sports marketing department.
The key to this game stands at about 5’6” and weighs around 200lbs. He wears number 33 and is needed to destroy the Wildcats defense, their spirits, and their chances for a win. For that to happen, Stan Parrish needs to recognize the importance of ball control and crawling before you can high jump, and Quale is exactly what Dr. Alan prescribes for a team in need of a booster shot of confidence and success. Parrish’s wisdom and sense wins out, and Quale carries it early, often, and over this defense. Close for the first half, Ball State pulls away in the second.
Ball State 27
New Hampshire 10