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Final Word: Western Michigan

The Final Word 200I woke up on Saturday morning so excited for football. It was Homecoming Saturday in Muncie, there was a winnable game on the BSU schedule, things could get no better. That line of thought served me for roughly 38 seconds until I stood up, took about three steps toward the bathroom, and felt that weird feeling in your mouth that says something is about to happen, none of which you are going to enjoy. Twenty minutes later, after I had seemingly purged all that I could possibly have in my system and was ready to attack my Homecoming journey with renewed vigor and energy, it happened again. And it was in the next ten minutes as I laid on the cold tile floor in my family’s southern Indiana homestead that I thought perhaps a Homecoming journey wasn’t in the cards for me.

There was reason to be excited, you know. Western Michigan was far from a world beater and the Cardinals needed a win in the worst possible way. 1-4 starts aren’t in CPL’s make up and 1-5 starts damn sure aren’t. There was a new quarterback under center, Quake was still ready to chew up yards in the backfield, and perhaps most importantly, across the field stood perhaps Ball State’s biggest advantage: Western Michigan’s head coach PJ Fleck. Boat oars be damned, if it came down to coaching, I’ll take my shot with CPL.

The too long, didn’t read version of events: Ball State dropped their fifth consecutive game to fall to 1-5 on the season and now sit at 0-2 in MAC play. Were there positive things to take away from Saturday? Of course, and we’ll get to those below. But there was a sizable takeaway as well, and speaks to a much larger issue at play for this year’s dreadful start. Most notably: “This is not the BSU team that we are used to under Coach Pete Lembo in any way, shape, or form.” There is nothing to be giddy about when Ball State gives up a 28-7 lead with 3:36 to go in the 2nd quarter. There is nothing to be giddy about a defensive effort that allowed thee touchdown drives of four plays or less. There is reason to be excited about the offense not being so pedestrian and vanilla, but mired in a 5-game losing streak with some significant defensive woes sort of brings all facets back to Earth.

The Cards did play turnover-free football and actually had an advantage in time of possession, so that’s pretty awesome. Early lead aside, this was the definition of a 50-50 game, and it didn’t end up in the Cards’ favor. It stings more now because quite literally every 50-50 game and situation over the first three years of the CPL regime went to the good guys. So we sit with a 1-5 record with a road game against CMU looming and some discipline issues circulating the team. It’s always a great time to be a BSU fan, but to call this anything other than challenging would be ignoring the obvious. Your final word on Western Michigan…

bleak (adj.)
depressing

Some other thoughts on the loss…

  • It was great to see Jordan Williams get back to his old self with 11 catches, 179 yards, and 2 TDs. That is the kind of effort that we all thought was the norm for JW and I’m thrilled to see the little nagging injuries no longer hamper his ability to make a statement kind of stat line.
  • Scott Secor perfect again on his five extra points and one field goal.
  • Punter U may be back in action as Kyle Schmidt and Secor combined for a 50.3 yard average on their punts for the day.
  • When the defense gives up 161 yards and 3 scores to a single player as they did on Saturday in the case of Jarvion Franklin, that makes it quite difficult to get a W.

The Cards are on the road this Saturday against Central Michigan. The Chips come in at 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the MAC. Kickoff is at 3:30 and Vegas opened the line at CMU (-6.5), where it was quickly bet up to CMU (-9) at some books. We open the CMU festivities around these parts tomorrow in earnest, so fire up for that.

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