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Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan: By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Saturday, the Cardinals will play their final home game in the 2014 campaign, and though most are ready to close the book on this football season, there is still significant things for which to play, most notably, a win for the seniors. Though an EMU blasting (and ultimately even an upset of BG next week) won’t completely eradicate the negativity of the first part of this season, it will do wonders to help bolster the argument that this season’s results are an aberration and not the expected norm without NFL talent on the roster.

The rationale for this season’s results are easy to pinpoint. Lost coordinators, lost personnel, a healthy dose of unhealthy injuries, and a steeper than expected learning curve for Coaches Lynch and Kelly have put the Cards at 3-7 and scrambling after a road loss to UMass that ended the Cards’ chances at .500 and a longshot bowl berth.

This Saturday’s contest, slated for a 2pm kickoff at Scheumann Stadium is your final chance to see Jahwan Edwards and a whole host of other seniors suit up for the Cardinals for the final time at home. Vegas puts the Cardinals at 17-point favorites, but the numbers we’re concerned about is the statistics. EMU and BSU by the numbers…

Eastern Michigan @ BSU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU EMU
Scoring Offense 94th (24.6)
127th (13.6)
Rushing Offense 93rd (141.9) 87th (146.4)
Passing Offense 86th (208.7) 126th(129.3)
Total Offense 108th (350.6) 126th (275.7)
Scoring Defense 68th (27.2) 121st (39.4)
Rushing Defense 93rd (188.5) 117th (229.2)
Passing Defense 72nd (230.4) 111th (274.0)
Total Defense 82nd (418.9) 122nd (503.2)
Sacks 116th (12.0) 120th (10.0)
Sacks Allowed 19th (12.0) 111th (30.0)
Turnover Margin 26th (+6) 123rd (-13)
3rd Down Conv. % 96th (36.3%) 111th (34.0%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 93rd (42.1%) 121st (48.5%)
Red Zone Conv. % 39th (86.5%) 128th (50.0%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 12th (71.7%) 17th (73.1%)
Punting 57th (41.6) 55th (41.7)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 22nd (41.0) 69th (54.0)

I’ve been doing this a long time, and frankly, I can’t remember a more statistically overmatched team than EMU. The numbers above have little to do with BSU and everything to do with EMU. They’re bad. Real bad. Anything less than a Cardinal dominating win and I’m going to be a bit disappointed. It’s time to blow the stench of this season’s frustrations and missed opportunities out the door. 2pm. Scheumann Stadium. See you there.

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Ball State Baseball Announces 2015 Schedule

BSULogoYes, it’s freezing outside and the last thing on your mind is America’s pastime. Walk outside in Indiana? Instant hypothermia. Buffalo, New York? I can only assume people have begun to eat their family members to maintain nutritional sustenance in this the winter of their discontent. Incidentally, they have somewhere in the neighborhood of six feet of snow and it’s still coming down. Tell me again why I should be concerned about global warming enough to stop buying F150s and Styrofoam coolers? Exactly. But I digress.

Yes, the weather sucks now, but it won’t always. Soon enough it will be sunny, warm, and delightful where I will authorize my sartorial choices with the “Suns out, guns out” mantra much to the delight of anyone in my general area. Assuming they bought a ticket. To the gun show. You know, because I’m sleeveless. And before you inquire, yes, I will ask them if they have purchased said entry to said attraction. But to go along with that tomfoolery, warm weather means baseball season and since it is America’s claim to fame (if you ignore most of the Caribbean, parts of Mexico, and large swaths of South America) you would do well to be kept abreast of the goings on around Ball Diamond. (Ed. Note: Heeheeheehee…. I said breast. But no time to laugh about it now.)

And what’s going on around Ball Diamond at this particular time is Ball State baseball has themselves a schedule for 2015. The Cards, last year’s MAC regular season champ, will start play February 13 in Wilmington, NC for the Buffalo Wild Wings Battle at the Beach event. I don’t even know what that is, but I do know it’s the day before Valentine’s day, there’s baseball to watch, and there’s wings to be had and if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

BSU’s release on the schedule…

Ball State’s baseball team, under the direction of head coach Rich Maloney, has announced its 2015 schedule.

“We are excited about the upcoming season and competing against so many outstanding programs,” Maloney said. “Our non-conference schedule will be foreboding in playing UNC-Wilmington, Kentucky, Elon, Coastal Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois twice, Indiana, Purdue twice, Northwestern and Maine. All of those programs have recently won their conference, played in NCAA tournament or have a storied tradition. We are doing this in hopes of preparing our team for the 27 game grind of MAC play. This is part of the journey to try and take our program to the next level.”

The Cardinals will open up at the Buffalo Wild Wings Battle at the Beach in Wilmington, N.C., Feb. 13-15, in a tournament with teams yet to be decided. Ball State will follow that tournament up with the Country Inn and Suites Elon Invitational in Elon, N.C., and the Chanticleer Classic in Myrtle Beach, S. C.

For a second straight year, Ball State will compete in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla., March 4-8 with Maine, Northwestern, Indiana and one team to be announced.

Indiana, which finished the 2014 season ranked 20th in the nation, will also visit Muncie, Ind., May 12, in a single game at Ball Diamond. Big Ten Conference foe Purdue will visit Ball Diamond March 25, and the Cardinals will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., April 22.

Once returning to the Midwest, the Cardinals will play at Dayton March 13-15, followed by the home opener vs. Rutgers March 18.

Ball State will open the MAC season March 20-22 at Bowling Green and open the home conference slate March 27-29 vs. Buffalo at Ball Diamond.

The Cardinals are scheduled to end the regular season at home vs. Northern Illinois May 14-16, with the MAC Tournament slated for May 20-24 in Avon, Ohio.

Under the direction of Maloney, Ball State completed last season with a 37-18 overall record, a 22-4 mark in MAC play and won the MAC Regular Season Championship.

Maybe I’m crazy (I’ve been called worse), but I think the Cardinals will be well worth your time to check them out this season. And frankly, there are myriad ways to spend an afternoon far worse than catching a baseball game. You can check out the entire schedule here and make your plans accordingly.

Cardinal Hoops Crack the Century Mark in Home Opening W

BSULogoYes, I know it’s still the fall (technically) and normally this time of year, a BSU sports fan’s limited attention span is still focused on pigskin, but in case you were unaware, the Ball State men’s basketball team under second-year head coach James Whitford is two games deep in their 2014-2015 campaign.

While the season-opener at #25 Utah didn’t turn out the way friends of the feather would have liked for it to with a 90-72 loss, the dozens of BSU fans who were able to watch on the Mountain West network said the Cardinals looked like a team exceptionally capable of making some significant noise in the MAC this year. I think most who follow the Hoop Cards and have ever interacted with Coach Whitford would tell you that the Cardinals being a force is a matter of “when”, not “if”. If Monday’s result was any indication, that “when” may very well be sooner rather than later, as IU Kokomo learned the hard way that one does not simply walk in to Worthen Arena and walk out with a win. Or even a loss closer than 39 points.

To the BSU release…

MUNCIE, Ind. — Freshman guard Jeremie Tyler scored 23 points Monday night to lead the Ball State men’s basketball team to a 101-62 win over IU Kokomo in its home opener at Worthen Arena.

The Cardinals (1-1) moved the ball well and shot it well on a night when they topped 100 points in a game for the first time in 10 years. The team handed out 26 assists on 38 baskets and shot better than 62 percent from the floor against the Cougars (1-4).

“I was pleased with our team,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “I thought we came out of the gates right, though we didn’t really defend well the first eight minutes … When the ball is really moving, we can score. We have guys who can make shots, we can play fast, and we have some perimeter guys who are really versatile.”

Tyler was playing against his brother, IU Kokomo junior guard Jerome Campbell. He became the second freshman to score more than 20 points for Ball State already this season.

Sean Sellers scored 26 points three nights ago at Utah, marking the best freshman scoring debut in program history. He went for 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting Monday night and matched Zavier Turner for team-high honors with six assists, all in the first half.

The Cardinals were able to get out in transition, scoring 23 fastbreak points, including three dunks from Tyler. They also did damage from beyond the arc, reaching double-digits in 3-pointers made for the second straight game with 11.

“We have a skilled team, so when they turned the ball over or missed shots, we were able to take advantage,” Whitford said. “We’re not going to be able to get that many fastbreak points against everybody, but we always want to get a few. We’re a team that can really score in transition, and that’s the way we play.”

Bo Calhoun scored a career-high 12 points, and Turner added 11. Matt Kamieniecki, Franko House and Mading Thok scored eight points each, while Kaleb Mallory had seven and Rocco Belcaster six to give the Cardinals nine players with at least six points.

Jared Lawrence scored 15 points and Micah Pier had 13 to lead IU Kokomo, an NAIA program.

Ball State reached the century mark for the first time since Dec. 8, 2004 against Anderson. The Cardinals topped 60 points in a half for the first time since February 1997 by racking up 62 in the first half.

After two games in four days to start the season, Ball State is now off until a Saturday contest at 1 p.m. against IUPUI at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis. The Cardinals will return home Monday, Nov. 24 to host Grambling State.

Yes, it was IU Kokomo and not Kansas or Michigan State. I do not care. You beat a team by almost 40 and drop a hunsky in the process and you’re doing something right. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if it was Northside Middle School that got their tails beat by 40, mostly because those kids are jerks and BSU needs something good to happen in a revenue sport this season.

As mentioned above, the Hoop Cards take on the Jaguars of IUPUI on Saturday in Indianapolis. The Jags come in with an 0-2 record and losses to Purdue and Indiana State. I would smarmily remark on their latter loss, but frankly, I’m not sure the statute of limitations has expired from the football upset yet. So, Cards at 1-1 with a very real chance to run off more than a few wins before their next loss. That starts on Saturday, so show them some love.

Creating the Ultimate Super Bowl Party Room

nfl-logoThe culmination of football season in America, the Super Bowl has become an iconic event that brings family and friends together for food and fun, year after year. No matter who your favorite team is, or even if they have made it to this ultimate football contest, any true football fan will eagerly look forward to watching the game, critiquing the impressive debut commercials and enjoying the delicious foods and drinks that are a part of every Super Bowl party.

Planning your Super Bowl party
Planning a Super Bowl party goes beyond food and decorating; it also includes planning how you will watch the game and arranging the room for the best viewing.

If you are having even a modest-sized group of family and friends over for your Super Bowl party, you will want to ensure that everyone is able to sit comfortably and watch the game clearly. The advent of flat screen televisions has made setting up a good viewing experience simple; by mounting the television on the wall, you can raise the viewing area enough for everyone to see. Arranging the furniture can help to set up seating areas; a sofa set flanked by a comfortable recliner or lounging chair is a good start, followed by some lower seating in front such as beanbag chairs or floor pillows. This allows people in any seat to see the television screen over or around the heads of the people in front of them.

Besides the television, you will want to make sure that the sound setup is superior. Audio systems that include multiple speakers, or perhaps a sound bar system can help to boost the quality and dispersion of the sound from the television more effectively, allowing everyone to hear the game and commercials clearly and really experience it all more fully.

Once the room is arranged and ready, you can begin decorating. Super Bowl party decorations, including table coverings, napkins, cups and dishes, are all readily available in stores as the big day approaches. Add in decorations that bring in the emblems and colors of the two competing teams as well. You could even include replica helmets as the centerpieces for the buffet table.

A buffet is the best way to serve up snacks and Super Bowl fare on game day. Most of your guests will be looking for foods that are quick to eat and easy to handle so that they can enjoy them while watching the game. Buffalo-style chicken wings are a well-known favorite, along with a variety of traditional and unusual dips and spreads for crackers, bread or tortilla chips. Hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, tacos and chili are more popular Super Bowl foods. Guacamole and salsa frequently make an appearance. You can also customize the menu based on family favorites. Drinks include non-alcoholic, such as soda, and alcoholic, especially beer and wine coolers.

Preparing your party space for the Super Bowl, from arranging the seating to checking the sound to cooking up treats for game time, is as enjoyable as watching the game itself. The Super Bowl is an annual event not to be missed, and by keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that your Super Bowl party will be an unforgettable event.

OTPcast 6.16

OTP Cast Logo200Jason and Alan are back to recap the Cards’ loss against UMass and try to put 2014 into some sort of perspective. Jason asks the tough questions of the staff and whether or not there is movement to be made. The guys also look ahead for the remaining two games, this weekend’s SEC showdown, and what OTP can do to get Jason into the Guinness Book of Records. Tune in!

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…

It’s UMass Day. Yay?

BSULogoSo it’s gameday for Ball State Nation. And it’s been severely lacking in content for the Minutemen for a whole host of reasons, most notably for some real-world issues that your site leadership is dealing with. However, the world doesn’t stop and start at our convenience so at least some cursory information on the Minutemen seems warranted, no?

UMass is 2-7 overall and 2-3 in the MAC. They started out this year with six losses, won two, and then lost last week at Toledo. The bad news for BSU fans is that their losses (outside of Penn State and Boston College) were all exceptionally close. We’re talking 19 points total, and that’s against the likes of Toledo, Bowling Green, and Vanderbilt (along with Colorado and Miami (OH)). So it’s highly likely that this could be the best 2-7 team there is in college football.

The game itself comes down to UMass’ passing attack against BSU’s defense. The Minutemen in true MACtion fashion are averaging 331 yards a game, good for 6th in the country. That isn’t a real positivity-inducing bullet point considering the failures of BSU’s defense this season. There’s also some notable parts missing for the BSU defense, namely Eric Patterson, who broke his arm last week against NIU. However, Ben Ingle, injured the week before is listed as “questionable” so YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE!

The internalized lead up to this game for me is eerily reminiscent of the games that were the norm before CPL and crew arrived in Muncie, where we were simply praying that the Cardinals could limit mistakes and do just enough to win. In some respects, that’s kind of what I’m hoping for. With three games remaining, (UMass, EMU, and @ BG) a victory would do wonders to propel the Cards to a somewhat respectable final record and perhaps even some positive momentum heading into the offseason devoid of a Bowl for the first time in two years. It’s still possible the Cardinals could finish .500, though it would require a 3-0 record over their final three, but most fans would likely be thrilled with that considering how the Cards started 2014.

So how do we get that W? I would think it comes down to:

  • Acceptance by the offensive coaching staff that the strength of the offense starts with Jahwan and ends with Edwards. Quake is putting up monster numbers when (in the mantra of Ryback) they FEED HIM MORE. I would even say that with a good batch of Quake runs and an offense that moves the ball well against UMass’ overmatched defense, it may go a long way to fans jumping back on the Lynch-train after a season with some considerable ups and downs.
  • The defense playing a bend but don’t break Hokian effort that the 08 Cards made famous en route to 12-0. Give up three instead of seven. Allow a play or two, but never for scores. Nut up when the time comes. Simple, really.
  • Provide some sort of spark. Whether that’s a big return on the special teams, a turnover, something. There has to be something (preferably early in the game) that gets the Cards on the positive side of the ledger.

The worst thing about tonight’s game? It’s in Massachusetts, where I assume there will be roughly 17 BSU fans come out and teams from Indiana usually don’t fare well (See: Colts, Pacers, etc.). So there’s that. 8pm kickoff on ESPNU. Be there or be square.

OTPcast 6.15

OTP Cast Logo200Blame it all on our fans
We showed up with cans
Full of our favorite beer

The first ones to show
The last ones to go
It’s why we pay to park so near

And I saw the surprise
And the fear in his eyes
When I went to speak my review

And I toasted the Cards
Said with a loss I’ll drink hard
But no matter what, we’re not IU

Jason and Alan are back to recap the Cards’ midweek MACtion loss to NIU and what sort of feeling they have now for the 2014 season. They also touch on the upcoming road contest against UMass, the newest playoff projections, the return of Garth Brooks and your 2014 election day. All that and more in OTPcast 6.15!

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…

Scott Secor Named Semifinalist for Groza Award

BSULogoIt’s been an evolving season of bright spots for the Cardinals, but I’d say one of the more consistent things about this 2014 season has been the performance of senior placekicker Scott Secor. As we’ve mentioned, it’s likely that Secor will have set the single-season record for made field goals when 2014 is complete, and it’s now being noticed by people outside of the Cardinal football family as it was announced Thursday that Secor has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s best kicker.

Per the BSU release…

MUNCIE, Ind. – Scott Secor, a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl, according to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

The award is named in honor of one of the all-time great kickers in football history who played 21 seasons for the Cleveland Browns and set numerous franchise records and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

Secor is tied for first in the nation with 21 field goals this season and entered the week first in the nation in field goals per game (2.63), 10th in scoring (10.4) and 3nd in field goal percentage (.808). His 21 field goals this season rank third on Ball State’s single-season list and is four behind the school record of 25 held by John Diettrich in 1985 and Steven Schott in 2012. Secor made a career long 55-yard field goal at Central Michigan this season and tallied a career best five field goals in Ball State’s win over Akron earlier this season.

Semifinalists will be voted on by Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, media relations professionals, past Groza finalists, and national and regional football writers to select three finalists. These finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and honored at the 23rd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 9, in West Palm Beach, Florida. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Dec. 11.

Secor is the only kicker from a Mid-American Conference school named to the list of semifinalists for the award.

The Cardinals will play at Massachusetts Wednesday on ESPNU before returning to Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind., for a Nov. 22 home game vs. Eastern Michigan and finishing the regular season Nov. 28 at Bowling Green.

The last Cardinal I remember making it to the finalist stage for a national award was Scott Kovanda for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter. Kovanda didn’t win, but he was there for the big hullabaloo of the end of season awards. Good luck to Scott, and I’d say he’s quite deserving, you know, by leading the nation in field goals.

OTPcast 6.14

It’s close to gamOTP Cast Logo200eday and some MACtion is lurking
In the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops
Your heart
You try to win, but Secor makes the kick before
You make it
You start to shake as Quake, he looks you right between
The eyes
You’re paralyzed

‘Cause it’s OTPcast, OTPcast day
And no one’s better at what Alan and J about to say
You know it’s OTPcast, OTPcast day
You’re laughing for your life inside a killer
OTPcast day

Jason and Alan are back for the Halloween edition of the OTPcast, where they’ll recap the big win over Akron and get you ready for the first midweek MACtion of 2014 when NIU comes to the Scheu on Tuesday. They also walk through the playoff rankings, MAC full cost of attendance scholarships, and some Halloween goodies from king size candy bars to Lara Croft. All that and more in OTPcast 6.14!

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…

Final Word: Akron

The Final Word 200On Saturday at the Scheu, it was an absolutely picture-perfect day for college football. Bright sun, blue skies, and not a cloud to be found anywhere in sight as the Cardinals looked for win #3 and their second in a row for the 2014 campaign. Leading up to the game, both myself and Jason had emphasized what a massive game it was. With a win, the Cards were still alive for post-season play, albeit on somewhat thin ice, they were still in contention for the MAC West, albeit needing help from others, but most of all, there would be signs of fight and positivity to move forward on.

A loss would have been disaster, and I don’t use that term in some sort of hyperbolic sky-is-falling overreaction. No, it would have been for all intents and purposes a complete disaster that in some respects would have been devastating to the first three years of the Lembo regime in Muncie. The packed houses, loud and boisterous crowds, and appearances on “hot lists” of Coach Pete Lembo would cease and BSU would fall, yet again, into the pile of nonfactors and irrelevants that populate the mass majority of mid-major college football.

The naysayers would tell you that was an almost foregone conclusion heading into Saturday’s game. Akron came in at 4-3, winners of three of their last four, and already with a road win at Pitt on their resume. Their passing game was strong, their defense stout, and even the wearers of the rosiest Cardinal glasses would tell you there were some significant questions about BSU. Passing defense first and foremost, ability to close out a game right up there, and a whole host of other things that weren’t even on the worry radar the last three seasons thanks to an experienced team led by Keith Wenning, Willie Snead, and a host of other vocal put-it-on-me kind of Cardinals. The naysayers were convinced that this was just going to be another loss.

But a funny thing happened on the Cardinals’ way to obscurity, and dare I say, these young Cardinals may very well have grown up in front of our very eyes with their 35-21 victory. In many ways, the first half was what we’ve seen most of this season: missed opportunities; missed chances; and a defense that was anything but a minor imposition to the wishes of the opposing offense. But in one of the most Jekyll & Hyde performances I can remember, the second half was a symphony of success. The offense ran roughshod over the Zips and the defense was a holy terror on turf. Is it possible that the evolution of this iteration of the Cardinals only took the halftime period to come to realization?

With youth comes inexperience and ignorance. Uncertainty on checks, packages, and audibles, but perhaps most importantly, these Cards had to learn how to win. How to get an opponent on the ropes and not let up. Being able to do that in come-from-behind fashion is just a nice little bonus.

The story of the game was the Cardinals defense and the five turnovers they created, which is by no means a sustainable strategy. However, the things that are both noteworthy and repeatable were the performances of Jahwan Edwards against an Akron rush defense ranked 33rd nationally before Quake’s 121 yards and a TD Saturday, and the performance of Jack Milas to put playmakers like Jordan Williams and the aforementioned Quake in a position to make plays. Milas continues to grow, continues to impress, continues to win and frankly, that’s really all that matters.

Saturday was something more than a football game. It felt like a rebirth. I distinctly remember the feeling I got in the Scheu media room after Indiana State. The tension was palpable and frankly, I was dreading having to hear CPL explain an unexplainable loss and see the pained looks on the players’ faces as they fielded questions from the media assembled. Saturday was 180 degrees different. Folks were smiling, jokes were made, CPL was all smiles, pleasantries, and pats on the back. It wasn’t an atmosphere befitting how the season started, and it was most definitely not the atmosphere expected at halftime, but it was most assuredly the atmosphere that this team deserved after Saturday’s performance and the struggles and growing pains they’ve had to endure through this season. Much like a bad break up, time heals all sorts of holes and growth issues, but time takes time. And so, your final word on Akron…

catharsis (n.)
a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension

Some other notes on the victory…

  • Though we noted above that generating five turnovers was not a sustainable strategy, this was the second consecutive game the Cardinals did just that. The ten turnovers in the last two games is the most in a two-game stretch since at least 2000.
  • After Akron’s first four possessions, the defense allowed zero points and only 111 yards.
  • Scott Secor’s 5 made field goals set a Scheumann Stadium record and matched a school record for most field goals in a game.
  • Should Secor make 4 more field goals on the year, he will tie John Diettrich and Steven Schott for season makes with 25. His 21 made field goals puts him #1 in the country for made field goals this year.
  • Quake Edwards has 828 yards on the season and sits just 172 yards short of his third 1000-yard season, a feat only accomplished by Marcus Merriweather, the person Quake took the career rushing record from last week.
  • Speaking of Quake, with his next TD he will pass Ian McGarvey as BSU’s leading scorer. Quake currently sits at 282 and McGarvey has 287.
  • Jack Milas’ rookie success continues as through three starts he has 749 yards, 6 total TDs, and most importantly, 0 INTs.
  • The 15-point comeback (from 21-6) was the 7th largest deficit overcome for a victory in school history.
  • The victory on Saturday was BSU’s 14th in their past 17 MAC games.
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