So 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.
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