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Gameday, Baby. Why You Should Hate A-State

logo200Can you feel it? The pending doom that comes from the college football season slipping away like sands through the hour-glass? We have two more games, friends. Four more teams to take the field. And then…. nothing. A cold, empty, blackness known as the college football offseason.

Sure, there’s recruiting. But placing your daily satisfaction on the whims of an 18-year old is a dangerous game. Perhaps there’s more coaching carousel information and news. But that just worries a fanbase and whips everyone into a tizzy. There’s spring practice reports and a spring game, but much like your prom date, it’s all just a giant tease. So we have 4 teams, 2 games, and 1 in particular that are deserving of our attention.

Tonight, at 9pm on ESPN, your Ball State University Fighting Football Cardinals take flight in Mobile, AL for the GoDaddy.com Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. It’s a chance for the Cardinals to win the first bowl game in program history and a chance for Coach Pete Lembo to cement his name in the conversation of best BSU coaches to wear the headset. So while the entirety of the rest of the country gets amped up about the final BCS National Championship game between two programs that have their history of QBs run afoul of the NCAA or criminal law, I will instead focus on this game. It’s Arkansas State. It’s Ball State. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR, FOOTBALL FANS?!?

  • Arkansas State is from the Sun Belt. Much like the MAC is the sacrificial non-conference lambs for the Big Ten, so to is the SunBelt the punching bag for the SEC. Arkansas State played Auburn and Missouri, losing to both. Arkansas State fans will tell you that playing those teams is more impressive than playing the likes of North Texas or Virginia, and they are probably right. However, BSU could have also scheduled top teams to beat the piss out of us had we so chosen. Showing up to your own bloodbath does not a medal of honor get you.
  • Speaking of A State fans, they are quite the vocal bunch. For a team that just came up to the FBS level in 1990, and one who has played in only three bowl games in program history, you’d think that humility would be the order of the day for their fanbase. Granted, they did win their first FBS bowl game last year, the GoDaddy Bowl against the MAC’s Kent State (a MAC team who was 11-2) but I do have to wonder if their bluster isn’t a little misplaced. It’s certainly annoying.
  • While we’re on the subject of A State, let’s talk coaches, shall we? As everyone knows by now, next season will be Blake Anderson’s first, but he will be the fourth head coach in as many years for the Red Wolves. Bryan Harsin, Gus Malzahn, and Hugh Freeze all bid adieu to Jonesboro after just one season. Can you really blame them? The anchor store at the Mall at Turtle Creek (the largest mall in northeast Arkansas) is a JC Penny’s. NO MACY’S?!? STEP YO GAME UP OR LOSE MORE COACHES.
  • John Grisham hails from Jonesboro and I actually can’t really hate on that.

So we have a team in transition with an interim coach versus a MAC juggernaut. In fact, an argument could be made (and made with some success I might add) that were it not for about 5 minutes of game action, this BSU team would be 12-0 instead of 10-2 and not being in Mobile at all. Regardless, the 2nd best team in the SunBelt and their boisterous fans get the privilege and honor of stepping on the field against the Ball State Cardinals tonight at 9pm. ESPN. Join us, won’t you?

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BSU Football Met a Future Hall of Famer or Perhaps a Homeless Man

go daddy bowlOne of the great things about bowl season for the student athletes is that the lead up to the game is very different from any other game week. Normally, you’d have a consistent balancing act of classes, weight lifting, doing your college student thing, and then taking the field on Saturday to fling yourself into another student-athlete with reckless disregard for your body. Sprinkle in some interviews, perhaps some film work, maybe some one on one tutelage from your position coach depending on how bad or good you played last week, and that’s pretty much your game prep in a nutshell. Lather, rinse, repeat, for 15 weeks or so.

Bowl week though is something completely different. And in truth, it’s really more of a few weeks. First of all, there’s the ability to focus on solely football since classes aren’t in session. Most importantly, there’s the swag bags. Instead of just getting your body beat to hell, you may get cool things like a Galaxy Tab or a PS4. For BSU, the wow factor of the gifts isn’t a knock your socks off moment, but the Cards football team will walk away with a Sol Republic deck, a Timely Watch Co. watch, a Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage bag, and a Wilson football. So there’s that. For Arkansas State, there’s the opportunity to play Ball State (really quite the reward). But like many of the best moments in life, it is the unexpected things that mean the most.

From Keith Wenning’s twitter, we got this jewel of awesomesauce today (click to enlarge)…

brett favre bowl weekThat’s Keith Wenning and Willie Snead. Between them is none other than Green Bay Packer/Minnesota Viking/New York Jet/prolific sexter Brett Favre. At first glance, I thought it was awesome of the GoDaddy Bowl for letting local homeless vagrants enjoy bowl festivities and a meal that at $30 a person was, I’m sure, just delightful. Glancing back at the photo a couple more times and I began to have even greater respect for the GoDaddy Bowl and their representatives for their ability to pull Kris Kristofferson to a Mobile, Alabama luncheon. But then, after further research and considerations, it was revealed to be none other than the world famous gunslinger that went by #4.

I’m not sure what advice Favre would give to either team, because clearly grooming and sartorial choices are right off the table, but it is pretty awesome that the Fighting Football Cardinals were able to spend a little time with a future hall of famer, one who can give tangible concrete examples of why having a burner phone and/or not wearing crocs in compromising photos is always a good idea. So keep your watch, luggage, and football. I think the best gift of all for all us was that image above.

Hurry Up and Get Here GoDaddy Bowl

logo200If you’re like me, today and tomorrow are all about family, fellowship, and celebrating with the people you love. That’s all well and good, and while I will love the joy the next 36 hours or so bring, my mind is clearly elsewhere. Specifically, I’m trying to find a method to speed up time to make January 5th arrive just a little bit sooner than it will. Not to get one day closer to the final BCS Championship Game. Oh no, friends, January 5th is when the Ball State Fightin’ Football Cardinals will perhaps win their first bowl game in program history against the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State Red Wolves in Mobile, Alabama.

For those wondering what to expect from this Ball State team, and if they’re the favorite to win? They are. Vegas has been on the Cardinals heavy since the game was announced. An opening line that saw the Cards as eight point favorites has stayed predominantly the same in the last few weeks, though a couple of books have bumped it to 8.5 or 9. As the game draws closer, and the number of remaining football games continue to dwindle, that line will most likely shift. With a limited number of options, gamblers have to put their money somewhere, and the GoDaddy Bowl seems like as good a place as any. You can keep up to date on that game and the others and see more college football bowl game odds here.

BSU fans wanted Detroit, were worried about Boise, and landed with Mobile. All told, it’s a good locale, make-able for the Cards fans and program supporters inclined to go, and the opponent is one that is beatable. As we mentioned on last week’s podcast, A State isn’t like the Tulsa or UCF teams of the past two bowl trips that flew under the radar and were exceptionally undervalued. This is an A State team that is in a bit of turmoil as new coach Blake Anderson, former offensive coordinator at UNC, takes the reigns after the departure of former coach Bryan Harsin back to Boise State. His buyout is astronomical, as should be the case for a program that’s on its fifth head coach in five years. That’s what we call the definition of turnover.

As for what to expect from A State, I’m not sure anyone really knows. I would imagine it won’t be a carbon copy of what they’ve done in-game to this point and I can’t imagine a completely new offensive system has been installed in just a week. Whether the players are motivated or despondent is anyone’s guess as well, as I’ve seen both scenarios play themselves out when a coach leaves. For our sake, let’s hope everyone on A State’s squad is depressed, forlorn, and listening to weepy Brian McKnight songs on replay.

Some other assorted GoDaddy Bowl minutiae:

  • CBS Sports has a preview and some info quick hits up about the GDB here
  • As I’ve said before, your one stop shop for CFB info should be Phil Steele. He breaks down the GDB here. It’s a football nerd’s dream, but if you are said football nerd you already know all about Phil Steele.
  • SBNation is calling the GDB the “final match on the undercard” and you can see their HOT SPORTS TAKE on the game here.

So go easy on the eggnog and make sure you make it to January 5 in one piece. It should be something you don’t want to miss, especially considering how long we have to wait.

 

BSU Heading to Mobile for the GoDaddy.com Bowl

go daddy bowlOTP reported earlier this afternoon and Ball State and the MidAmerican Conference confirmed this evening that Ball State will be heading to Mobile, Alabama on Sunday January 5th for the GoDaddy.com bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

The Red Wolves come to Mobile with a 7-5 record and a 5-2 Sun Belt mark. Their biggest games this season were against Memphis, Missouri, and national champion participant Auburn, all losses. Their two in-conference losses were to Western Kentucky and eventual Sun Belt champion Louisiana Lafayette. ASU is a run-oriented attack that averages just a shade under 30 points a game. They are also 65th in the country for points against, so to call this game winnable would be an understatement.

This is BSU’s 7th bowl trip in school history and perhaps the best chance for a bowl win, which would be the program’s first. The location isn’t the most ideal (as there are other MAC affiliated bowls with a closer location) but to say I’m unhappy with the GoDaddy.com bowl wouldn’t be correct.

The most important things for BSU’s bowl selection was a location that was reachable in relative ease for people should they want to go and a  matchup against a beatable team. This situation is all those things.

Fans will remember that the last time BSU was in Mobile, there was an interim coach as our head coach had departed for places west. Fans are worrying about that now as well, but let’s burn that bridge when we get there mmkay? I’m thrilled that the Cardinals are going to be bowling at a warmer locale than some of the possible choices and that they will be the lone college game that night against an opponent that is very capable of being the first BSU bowl win. The other details surrounding the game which may or may not happen at this point are immaterial.

So book your rental cars, ask for days off work, stuff your stocking with tickets. You’ll want to be there for what could be a monumental game. Mobile. January 5th. Go Cards.

Reserve Your Bowl Tickets Now!

logo200In a great move by the BSU administration, fans can now begin to reserve their tickets to the Bowl game that the Cards will hopefully be playing in. The good news? By reserving your tickets through the BSU ticket office, you help the Cards in that these are the tickets that will be sold to meet their allotment requirements for any given bowl, in addition to making the Cards an attractive participant given they’ve sold X number of pre-reservations. The better news? Your deposit isn’t locked in and can be returned if the Cardinals don’t make a bowl or you can’t make the bowl they get invited to. So really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain while helping BSU in the process. I’d think this team and this staff have earned your refundable $10, don’t you think?

To the release…

With the Ball State football team’s victory over Kent State, the Cardinals are bowl eligible for a third straight season.

All interested fans can reserve bowl game tickets by making a $10 deposit per order on http://www.ballstatesports.com or by calling the Ball State ticket office at 888.BSU.TICKET. In addition, the Worthen Arena Ticket Office is open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This deposit reserves your tickets if Ball State is invited to a bowl game. Once Ball State is invited to a bowl game and ticket prices are released, your $10 deposit will be used toward the overall price of the tickets you purchase. You may reserve as many tickets as you like while making only the $10 deposit. If, after making the deposit, you realize you cannot attend the bowl game, your $10 deposit may be refunded upon request, or it could be considered a donation to Ball State Athletics.

“Our fans participation in the bowl game ticket deposit program helps our bowl selection process,” Ball State athletics director Bill Scholl says. “Bowl game committees use several factors to determine which teams to invite to their games. Our 6-1 start, and the fact we feature one of the most exciting and entertaining teams in the country, will certainly help our argument to many bowl committees. However, another important factor is the strength of a team’s fan base. Bowl deposits, such as these, can play a role in demonstrating the commitment of our fan base. The ability to show a strong response from our fan base in bowl game ticket deposits will only enhance our attractiveness to bowl committees.”

Ball State is 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference and will play a road game at Western Michigan Saturday. The Cardinals host Central Michigan in a nationally televised game at 8 p.m. Wed., Nov. 6, and wrap up the season with Senior Day vs. Miami University at 1 p.m. Fri., Nov. 29, at Scheumann Stadium.

I can think of ways I’ve wasted 10 bucks in the last week that make taking advantage of this a no-brainer. Do it for Lembo. Do it for Wenning. Do it for OTP.

Ways to make bowl season better

 

Back to playing games in cold Muncie. Bye bye warm climates.

Back to playing games in cold Muncie. Goodbye warm climates.

Bowl season finally ended last night with Alabama taking a baseball bat to Notre Dame’s head and that is a PG way of putting it.

Alabama winning again is not the problem but how boring this is becoming is.

How many bowl games grabbed your attention of the 35 games this year? For me it was only three.

  1.  Ball State vs. Central Florida, for obvious reasons.
  2.  Northern Illinois vs. Florida State, all about the MACtion.
  3.  Alabama vs. Notre Dame, the only bowl game that truly mattered.

That is it. I saw pieces of the other 32 games but that had more to do with the lack of television options between Christmas and New Years.

Those three games are the only games I will remember in two years. Maybe the fact the MAC went 2-5 in bowls too.

Some are excited for a four-team playoff coming up soon but that will only make two more games watchable. Here are some possibilities that might make bowl season a little better.

Eliminate conference tie-ins.

Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote about how fans of teams are constantly traveling to the same destination. This makes bowl season seem bland over time, especially for schools who go bowling every year. Not to mention more variety in bowl matchups. We just had three bowl games involving a MAC team against a Sun Belt school for crying out loud. We could have had matchup where Kent State played Purdue. Now that would have been comedy.

Start later

Some of these bowl games occurred December 15, 10 days before Christmas. I remember when maybe three bowl games would take place before Christmas. The early start drags bowl season out way too long. The term “Bowl Week” once described all the games that took place between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Bowl Week is great but “Bowl Month” not so much.

Cut 6-6 teams

Allowing a 6-6 team benefits the larger conference more than anyone else. A 6-6 SEC team will get a more attractive bowl bid before 9-3 MAC team. That is just the way it is. Getting rid of the 6-6 teams and making 7-5 the new bowl eligibility will create more meaningful games. Not to mention cut the number of bowl games down to a better size.

Form a selection committee

Are you tired of bowl reps yet? Why not take the decision-making away of middle men who have their own agenda. The NCAA could pick teams to create more competitive games. Then again the NCAA might make it worse but you never know.

I do like the bowls because it rewards teams with winning records. But the system needs to be tweaked to make it watchable again.

In 2012, Perspective the Word of the Year

Keith Wenning provided a memorable 2012 for Cards fans.

Keith Wenning provided a memorable 2012 for Cards fans.

Let’s get it out of the way… last night was neither fun nor funny. It was not over quick. I did not enjoy it. A sane and rational fan would have simply turned off the tv or found some other way to spend three hours rather than listen to ESPN, Desmond Howard, and Andre Ware slurp and slobber all over UCF and Blake Bortles as if he was the second coming of Dan Lefevour. Yes, that’s what I thought. Yes, that’s how it looked. No, I didn’t look away.

It wasn’t the smart thing, but it was the fan thing. Fans, true fans, sit and watch immersed in something they can’t turn away from. Sort of like the car crash metaphor when you want to look away but simply can’t. Of course, this is less love of gore and more love for program, but in reality, it was simply a crummy end to an otherwise unbelievable season.

Sort of like the bad piece of key lime pie after a delicious churrascaria meal. The steak was delicious. The ribs to die for. The garlic roasted chicken? Fabulous. The pie? Terrible. Would a foodie let that ruin the meal? Of course not. He’d order another bottle of moscato, wash the palette clean, and revel in the meat sweats that are about to be unleashed on him and his date.

A metaphorical leap to encapsulate the feelings of this season? Perhaps. But in reality, more appropriate than I expected. This season, despite the bitter end, was nothing short of incredible. I think the argument could be made that in many ways this season was more successful, more fun, and more inspiring of future hope than 2008. 2008 had more Ws, this season had lower expectations to start and that gap between expectations and outcomes is what makes things so damn fun.

To start this season the majority of pundits pegged the Cards at .500 at best with even the wildest optimistic among them (read: me) thinking 7 or 8 wins if everything broke exactly right. To finish with a final tally of 9 wins, a Florida bowl, an all-conference team littered with Cardinals, and a finalist for a national award is the definition of over-achievement. That’s the filet mignon of this season. Don’t let a spoiled piece of Key Lime Pie in St. Pete ruin that.

I’ve seen the cynics in the fanbase out in full force in social media and the like, usually espousing some sort of the “This is what they always do…” argument. Is it? I’m fairly certain most of you posting how this is what “we always do” have only been following the Cards religiously since 2008. That’s two bowls. And it certainly doesn’t qualify as always, now does it? Are the Cards winless in bowls? Yes. Are there other teams that haven’t been to any or as many? Also yes.

For me, cynicism has no place in this particular fanbase. Those who complain when we lose, who complain when we win but not by enough, who complain when we’re successful but not successful enough, on and on ad nauseam just make me sick. In the words of Conan O’Brien, “All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism- it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.” Sort of applies to football as well.

When Pete Lembo was hired it was met with a resounding “Eh…” from most all. In two years- TWO YEARS- he has led the Cardinals to a nine-win season after a 6-6 season. Let’s not all forget that in 2009 and 2010 before he got here the Cardinals won six games. Total. Over two seasons. I grasp this pie sucked. But man oh man how good the steak has been under Pete Lembo. And don’t look now but thanks to his recruiting efforts this year the post dessert midnight snack looks just delicious.

It’s been an incredible and incredibly fun season. Let’s not lose sight of that and I can only hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Keep your perspective, keep your head up, keep on believing. In Lembo we trust.

Bowl game diary: watching ESPN for 4 hours can be rough

 

The Ball State cheerleaders did not do much running Friday night. So lets think back to a time when they did.

The Ball State cheerleaders did not do much running Friday night. So let’s think back to a time when they did.

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.

You might have won this round Daivd Pollack. Just keep bashing MAC schools with Jesse Palmer and I am sure you will be wrong someday.

You might have won this round Daivd Pollack. Just keep bashing MAC schools with Jesse Palmer and I am sure you will be wrong someday.

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.

When whatever this show is becomes more appealing than the bowl game, it is a bad night for your team.

When whatever this show is becomes more appealing than the bowl game, it is a bad night for your team.

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.

Get Your Beef’O’Brady’s Live Blog On

OTP Liveblog logoCome one come all to your one stop shop for Cardinal and White tonight as OTP does a throwback liveblog of the Beef’O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Pete. We are busting out the old school for this since OTPLiveblogs took off so well in 2008 and we’re hoping to capitalize on some good juju for this one. Grab a frosty beverage, and be here when we kick it off at 7pm with some pregame entertainment until kickoff at 7:30. Chirp…. mother f’ing chirp.

Click Here to join the Liveblog. LIVEBLOG? LIVEBLOG!

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. It’s what’s for dinner

 

No matter what QB is out there, Central Florida is going to have a problem.

No matter what QB is out there (Page or Wenning), Central Florida is going to be in a world of hurt.

The epic Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl is upon us as Ball State will attempt to do what no other Ball State team has done before.

Win a freaking bowl game.

How big would a win be in program history? Top five moment? Top three?

The bowls are not what they use to be as over half of the teams get into them, but a bowl win in a watered-down bowl system is still a bowl win.

The problem is Central Florida has some weapons and I am not talking about the sword their mascot has.

Reasons for Optimism

  • Ball State is hot winning their last six games. Confidence will not be a problem. Central Florida may still be down after dropping their chance to win the Conference USA Championship game.
  • The defense has turned the corner. What started out as a calamity has been buttoned up. Plays that would have gone for touchdowns have been turned into smaller chunks. Remember that Jordan Lynch touchdown run that clinched the Oct. 6 game? Not sure the Huskies would have pulled that one out if the game was played in November.  Oh what might have been?

The Joey Lynch factor

Rewind it back to 2004 where Bush was fighting Kerry, Battlestar Galactica was starting over, and some guy name Brady Hoke became the head coach at Ball State University. He had a young quarterback named Joey Lynch leading the rebuilding

Central Florida is no problem for this guy.

Central Florida is no problem for this guy.

effort. The Cardinals struggled to 2-9 season with the wins coming against Western Michigan and … Central Florida.

Yeah, Central Florida was actually in the MAC at one point. And we thought the Big East was the first to fail at geography. UCF struggled in the conference as it was a bigger misfit than a train with square wheels.

The good news is Lynch led the Cardinals to a fourth quarter comeback connecting with Dante Ridgeway for the winning score. Ball State won 21-17. High fives all around.

Lynch is still a big part of the program today being in charge of recruiting. Having a guy on the coaching staff who has already led the Cardinals to victory over the Knights goes under positive vibes. These games are eight years apart but when a team has the history edge is time to go on the offensive. Yea for logical fallacies! Just play like Joey Lynch in 2004 and your Cardinals are going to win a bowl game.

Reasons for concern

  • I wish I knew details of Wenning’s injury and what percent level he will be Friday night but I’m a blogger not a doctor. Since Wenning has been participating in practice I bet he will be starting but you never know. His health is the biggest question mark going in.
  • The Knights have experience on the defensive side of the ball. They were able to keep the Ohio State game respectable, losing 31-16. That is better than what Ball State did against Clemson. Yea for another logical fallacy! The team strength appears to be up front with a secondary that is slightly less
    The official logo of UCF while it was in the MAC.

    The official logo of UCF while it was in the MAC.

    experience. Ball State might not have that much success on the ground game putting more pressure on Page or Wenning. If the Ball State running backs struggle this could be a long day.

Prediction: Ball State 30, Central Florida 23

Ball State’s offensive line has not shown many weaknesses this season. The Knights will be tested to control the line of scrimmage; something both teams are used to doing. If Ball State can run enough it should end the season with a bowl win and a 10-win season. If the Ball State could run for 169 yards on South Florida how hard could Central Florida be? Yea for another logical fallacy.

At the very worst, Ball State should do better than what Toledo did Saturday against Utah State. Yikes!