When you are a broke guy out of college that means watching Ball State on the tube as oppose to going to Florida. Someone has to keep ESPN happy with ratings. The following is a timeline from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
7:00 – My God, ESPN just spent more time promoting Nelly than the bowl game.
7:02 – Jesse Palmer called Ball State “a good football team.” The same Jesse Palmer who went on a rant on how Northern Illinois has no business being in a BCS bowl. If Ball State is a good football team then that means Northern beat multiple “good football teams” throughout the year. Yet the Huskies are not worthy of a BCS bowl? His colleague, David Pollack, just spent 30 seconds on how tiny Jamill Smith is. I am thinking about muting the TV.
7:24 – Only 20 minutes in yet ESPN has already mention “Ball State has never won a bowl game” in some form at least five times. If you are looking for a drinking game this is it.
7:25 – David Pollack said Central Florida is “the more talented team.” If Ball State wins I can’t wait to shove it in his face.
7:27 – We just had a Heisman trophy winner in Desmond Howard slurp up to Keith Wenning and Jahwan Edwards. Now that’s “Wenning.”
7:28 – Is Tropicana field as ugly in person as it looks on television?
7:30 – The sideline reporter looks like the same woman in the Toyota commercials. Hope she asks Pete Lembo a question on fuel economy.
7:32 – First “Chirp” chant heard before kickoff. It’s real now.
7:33 – First two plays are a 1-yard loss each for UCF. Looking good.
7:34 – The Knights rush for a first down by quarterback Blake Bortles. Not so good. So far I have to give props to Central Florida’s superior uniforms. Ball State has a better mascot though, and probably a better dance team. Where’s are first Code Red sighting?
7:37 – The officials are a Sun Belt crew. This means we have a MAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt love triangle. The trinity of low ratings that make ESPN executives cringe.
7:42 – Touchdown UCF. It was a very methodical drive for Central Florida with no big plays but plenty of small chunks. Not a good a sign.
7:47 – Have now seen two commercials for Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. That is two more than I have seen in life prior to tonight.
7:48 – Make that three commercials.
7:49 – Big possession for Keith Wenning as we are waiting to see how healthy he is.
7:51 – Ball State goes three and out. Jamill Smith drops a pass that went right in his hands that would have given the Cards a first down. Scott Kovanda, a finalist for the Ray Guy award, makes a short 36-yard punt. What the hell is going on here?
7:55 – Desmond Howard says “I’m curious to see what adjustments Ball State’s defense makes.” To that I say no $#@&. So are we.
7:57 – Not going to lie, those UCF polo shirts look pretty good. I write this to cover my anger of Central converting on another third and long.
8:00 – Pass interference on Jason Pinkston to set up first and goal for UCF. The Knights score on the next play to make 13-0, but the extra point is blocked. When an extra point is your best play of a quarter you know you are in trouble.
8:02 – Back-to-back commercials for Ball State with one promoting Sports Link. Bad timing when you are down 13-0. The following commercial for Central Florida had no dialogue at all. I am sure you can get a quality education there. Just not in communications.
8:05 – Zane Fakes is held and no call. Central tips their second straight pass next play. Cards have to punt as Wenning starts 0 for 5. Starting to see a flashback to the Tulsa game in the 2009 GMAC bowl.
8:08 – Central gains over 35 yards on two straight passes. The panic button is on standby. Did I mention it’s only the first quarter?
8:12 – The Ball State defense forces UCF to punt to end the first quarter. Put panic button away. For now.
8:14 – The Indiana Hooisers are playing a basketball game on ESPN 2 during the bowl game. Can you let us have the spotlight just once IU?
8:16 – To start the second quarter ESPN shows the Code Red Dance Team. Best omen Ball State could have had. Wenning hits Willie Snead for a first down.
8:19 – Wenning connects with Fakes to the UCF 25. The hurry up offense is working.
8:21 – Ball State is struggling to run. Whether it is Banks or Edwards, it does not matter right now.
8:24 – Touchdown Ball State! High fives all around! Wenning hits Snead and gets a roughing the passer penalty to boot. Looks like the ankle is holding up.
8:25 – Fifth Beef ‘O’ Brady’s commercial. Still have no desire to eat there.
8:30 – Bogus pass inference call on Eric Patterson. Looks like the Sun Belt crew is not for the MAC. Meanwhile, Bortles is gashing Ball State on the ground.
8:36 – Bortles plows through two Ball State defenders to score a touchdown to make it 19-7. This is getting hard to watch.
8:38 – UCF goes for two to get back the point it loss on the blocked extra point and gets it. Your turn Keith Wenning. I am this close to watching the Pacers at the Cavs instead.
8:42 – Jamill Smith with a nice punt return. Too bad it was called back. That type of half for Ball State.
8:48 – Connor Ryan with a nice catch for 15 yards. Cards are moving but needs to get within one score before half to have a chance.
8:50 – Our first Jahwan Edwards sighting as he runs for a first down up the middle. Where the hell have you been? I said the Cards would win but that was contingent on a good running game.
8:53 – ESPN again mentions how Ball State has never won a bowl game. Tip it back America. Good thing I do not drink.
8:56 – Kitt O’Brien, offensive lineman, with a catch. Soon to be a Sportscenter not top 10 play. Wenning gets sacked on third and goal. Maybe I should have watched Malibu Country instead.
8:59 – Steven Schott misses a field goal. Yeah I should have watch Malibu Country instead.
9:08 – Central Florida gets into field goal range. Starting to search for alternative television options.
9:11 – Touchdown UCF on third and goal. Bortles is just killing the Cardinals. Make it 28-7 at the half. Try to tell myself Ball State is a third quarter team. No use. Hit the panic button.
9:16 – David Pollack at the half says “Hey listen, Ball State’s defense has been terrible all year-long.” Thank you David Pollack. Time to make a dartboard with his face on it. Do teams with terrible defenses go on six-game winning streaks all the time like Ball State did this fall? Especially when the starting quarterback goes down? It is a bad game but come on man.
9:35 – Just ate a slice of cake to calm me down and ready to watch the second half. Start up this comeback.
9:38 – Jahwan Edwards fumbles. Might be time to play a violent video game to take my frustration out on something.
9:46 – Central Florida goes for it on fourth and six and fails to convert. Still scratching my head as to why UCF went for it. You are up by 21, just kick a field goal.
9:51 – Wenning seems to be struggling on his deep throws but medium size passes are coming along. KeVonn Mabon is having a solid game. Hard to believe he is just a freshman.
9:53 – Schott hits a 45-yard field goal. All that did was put a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Still down 28-10. Defense needs to go beast mode right now.
9:56 – An onside kick? This is not EA games Coach Lembo. Ball State would have been better off going for it on fourth and five the previous drive than doing that.
10:02 – Touchdown Central Florida to take a 35-10 lead. Shields are down. Warp drive offline. It is not looking good Captain Kirk. Going back for more cake.
10:15 – Wenning with his best throw of the night to Zane Fake deep on the left side but it is broken up. Give credit to the UCF secondary.
10:16 – Wenning goes down after a sack hurting his ankle again. This game is just a disaster now. Kelly Page comes on for him. Zane Fakes gets hurt the next play.
10:18 – Despite being at midfield, Ball State punts while down by 25. So an onside kick is a better gamble? Game over unofficially.
10:27 – Another big rush for Central Florida. The Knights had controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. To me, that has been the biggest surprise of the game, not to mention the biggest disappointment.
10:35 – Give Keith Wenning credit, he came back on to the field to battle it out. Fakes came back too. It has been an awful day, but the Cardinals are still swinging.
10:45 – Willie Snead with a great catch and run for a touchdown as he made a guy miss. Ball State never says die! Trying to stay positive with a 38-17 score.
10:59 – Game mercifully ends. Not the way we wanted the Ball State season to end but we still have Ball State basketball. Crap, let me rephrase that. We still have a basketball that can beat South Dakota a lot. Merry Christmas!
Nathan is a 2012 Ball State grad and is back in Indianapolis writing for the Southsider Voice newspaper.