Teams from the non-AQ conferences clamor for just one thing: an opportunity. On Saturday, the Cards had just that. An opportunity to turn heads, raise awareness, and announce to the nation that there is more than Northern Illinois to slobber over in the MAC. And boy, did they capitalize on that chance.
The storylines from this game are massive and the credit will go to Keith Wenning and Jahwan Edwards who rewrote BSU’s record book en route to a victory, setting the career passing yards and rushing TD records respectively. But it’s the unsung little things, in true Lembo fashion, that made this win over Virginia a reality. First and foremost, the offensive line was dominant and aggressive in both rush and pass schemes. I would compare it to the line of scrimmage dominance thrown on Indiana in Pete Lembo’s first game as the Cardinals head coach in Lucas Oil Stadium. Yet again, the Cards performed virtually without penalties, while the opponent continued to beat itself with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes. And after each and every one, BSU was there to capitalize. Perhaps the greatest staple of the BSU program under Lembo is taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Whether that’s in-game like an opponent mistake or an opportunity to play for a lower seeded man on the depth chart, or a more macro view of opportunity like a nationally televised game against a “name brand” opponent, the Cards took advantage of all of them on Saturday. I seem to recall another BSU team that had that personality and they finished the season 12-0.
Virginia isn’t a national powerhouse and their home environment is anything but a snake pit. The national pundits and the hardcore football fans already know this. They are not who this win was big for. This win was big for the casual fan. The one who only pays attention when its convenient. Not the one who rearranges commitments to ensure he can see BSU play. Not the one who can tell you who the AP Top 25 is, the last six national champions, or what three coaches have already been fired this year. That hardcore fan already knew what was brewing in Muncie this season, and this win did nothing but cement what most already thought: This version of the Cardinals is awfully damn good.
It is the casual observer though that puts too much stock in a middling ACC team that this victory will reach most of all. The casual fan who was die hard cardinal and white from midway through 2008 until week 2 of 2009. The casual observer who needs a reason to break out the fandom. They frustrate me and confound me, but they exist and that’s the fan this game brings back into the fold. And what a supremely awesome time for that to happen! This week’s contest against Kent State is Homecoming for the Fighting Football Cardinals, and there is a push from athletics to pack Scheumann Stadium with die hard Card fans. More on Operation 20k below, but for now, the final word on Virginia is…
- causing a strong emotional reaction because of unexpectedness
Some other notes…
- After the UVA game, Keith Wenning has moved into 7th nationally for passing yards per game and 37th nationally for QB rating, which overall is a worthless statistical algorithm. He’s 23rd nationally for TDs.
- Jahwan Edwards is 32nd in the country in rushing yards per game and oh by the way, first nationally for TDs scored. He’s the first running back to hit paydirt 10 times.
- As mentioned above, athletics has rolled out Operation 20k where the goal for Homecoming attendance is 20,000 or more. In my mind, that is an extremely reachable goal under one fairly important caveat: Whomever is counting the attendance needs to actually be precise. Granted, I haven’t been to a game this season but it seems like every time I do go back, there is a general “We think this is how many students just herded into the stadium in that large group”. Maybe I’m just really bad at crowd estimates, but given the last home game where there was allegedly 4,000 or so empty seats, I’m not sure where they would have fit. The place looked pretty darn full to me. So you know, go to the game and such. The weather is going to be beautiful and the beer will be as cold as you remember it.
- The opponent for Homecoming is Kent State and don’t let the Golden Flashes’ 2-4 record fool you. Their wins were against Western Michigan (ROW ROW ROW ROW) and Liberty, and their losses against BG, LSU, Penn State, and Northern Illinois. Kent is a talented football team and one fans and the players should not take lightly.
- A name to keep in mind for Kent is Dri Archer. Coming into 2013, he and Jordan Lynch were the back-and-forth picks for Conference Player of the Year, and the guy is talented. He’s missed most of this season with a dreaded high ankle sprain, but in true BSU fate, he came back last week against Western and should be 100% for the BSU game. Archer is important not only for his production but about the defensive attention he demands and the opportunities he opens up for his fellow running mates. The lower his production, the better.