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Know a ’10 Opponent: Iowa

In an effort to educate, preview, and most importantly, make fun of, the upcoming teams which dare play the Cardinals, OTP is proud to present the Know a ’10 Opponent series. Like we always caution, previewing and attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, especially two months away from the season is basically begging for failure, but we’ll fling some poo and see what sticks, shall we? I mean, after all, we predicted like 10 wins for BSU last season and we totally nailed that one, didn’t we? I can’t find the results, so let’s just go with that. So sit back, boys and girls, and know your ’10 opponents.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Remember the last Know a ’10 Opponent we published? How we talked about the potential upset of a Big 10 foe, and needing just a little bit of help from Purdue for that second win over a BCS conference school to become a reality? Remember how we compared Purdue to Indiana? How we said that while the talent gap between the MAC and Big 10 is sizeable, it wasn’t insurmountable? Yeah… sort of different rules apply to this one. Yes, Iowa is in the Big 10 as Purdue, and yes, they have 11 men on the field at any given time. But the similarities between Iowa and Purdue pretty much end there.

Ball State will venture into Kinnick Stadium on September 25 and be the presumptive heavy underdog. It is the 4th game for both teams, with Iowa playing host to Eastern Illinois and Iowa State as well as a road contest at Arizona the week preceding the BSU game. Iowa will most likely be in the Top 10 by this game, and most everyone who isn’t associated with the BSU program will give the Cardinals about the same shot at success as I have of bedding Erin Andrews. And Hannah Storm. On a primetime Sportscenter special moderated by Scott VanPelt. (Note: Read: Not good odds at all. -Ed.)

Perhaps history will tell us something about this Ball State-Iowa matchup. Granted, most know the only BCS conference school the Cardinals have beaten is Indiana, but there’s bound to be something to recall historically about these two titans of the gridiron that makes the expectations of this contest manageable. What’s that? They’ve played before? Awesome! How’d that turn out? A 56-0 drubbing in 2005? Stellar. Fuck you, history.

While it’s sort of a tradition to poke fun at the school or the area, Iowa is a great school in a great conference. And making fun of the locale would sort of be self-deprecation. Anyone who has been to Iowa and north central Indiana knows you can pretty much switch the two and no one would be the wiser. Corn, chain restaurants, and that typical midwestern aura means I can’t even make fun of the city. Have you no decency, internet justice? Not only does our team stand a snowball’s chance in hell, I can’t even mock the most basic things about Iowa? This sucks.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Frankly, Iowa has had a good run in recent history. 4 double-digit win seasons in the last decade, along with only 2 losing seasons and 1 .500 season. They’ve finished four of the last ten years ranked in the Top 10 of the final AP poll, and have been to 8 bowl games (2 BCSers) over that time frame, winning 5 of them.  They’ve also either won or shared the Big 10 title twice over that time frame and despite our hatred for the Big Ten, that’s an accomplishment. Hell, more than we can say about conference titles.

Recently, Iowa is one of those programs, it seems, where they are good for one giant upset per year. Last year they defeated Penn State on the road. In 2008, it was Penn State at home. They seem to also be good for one inexplicable loss, last year to Northwestern and in ’08 to Illinois. Could Ball State take the place of some bottom of the barrel Big 10 team and turn the 70,000 fans at Kinnick into a tear-stained mess of upset?

The Man Who Wears the Headset
Everyone knows Iowa’s head coach Kirk Ferentz. Not because he’s an exceptional coach (which he is) or because he’s flashy and attention seeking (which he isn’t). No, most know Ferentz because everytime a marquee job opens, Ferentz is linked to it in some way, shape, or form. The “rumors”, “speculation”, and “interest” usually result in a contract extension and a pay bump, but through it all, he’s stayed at Iowa, becoming the Dean of Big 10 coaches with the longest tenure of any current head men (You know… save for JoePa, which we clearly missed with the original post. -Ed.).

Ferentz’ record at Iowa is 81-55, with a 49-39 Big 10 record. I think most Iowa fans will tell you that the consistent performance and success they have enjoyed recently is because of Ferentz, but part of me does wonder if Hawkeye faithful will eventually demand more than the occasional Big 10 title and the standard 8 to 9 wins. Perhaps this year?

Ferentz is also the highest paid coach in the Big 10, and the highest paid state employee in Iowa, with compensation of just a smidge over 3 million last year. That’s a lot of corn, son.

Players and Stats of Note
Iowa returns 6 starters on offense and 8 on defense, but it less about how many and more about whom. On offense, the Hawkeyes return QB Ricky Stanzi, RB Adam Robinson, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and two from the offensive line. Stanzi is the straw that stirs the drink for the Hawkeyes, going for 2400 yards and 17TDs last season. Perhaps most importantly, he loves him some America…

Defensively is where the Hawkeyes are strongest, returning 8 from a dominant unit last season that gave up only 280 yards per game and never allowed more than 28 points. The defensive line for the Hawkeyes is daunting, returning all four starters that combined for 252 tackles and 27 sacks. That doesn’t bode well if the BSU offensive line can’t muster some significant improvement from last season.

How Worried Are We?

AHHHHH!!!!!! CODE ARGYLE!!!! This is serious business. Essentially, this is a game that 95% of BSU fans will tentatively pencil an L in, and we like to call those fans “realists”. The Threat Level for this game isn’t about how worried we are. Truthfully, we aren’t worried at all about a loss, as acceptance is the first step to peacefulness. What we are worried about is somehow being embarrassed. Do I think that’s a likely occurence? No. But the possibility is there, and it’s a real one.

So the threat level hits a record high so far this preview season, akin to walking into a honky-tonk in Central Kentucky, requesting the Pet Shop Boys, and then ordering a Long Island Iced Tea while wearing boat shoes and an ascot. The likelihood of getting beaten is high, you simply hope you don’t get put in a coma.

The Tacks-o-Brass
Bottom line, Cardinals fans is measured and realistic expectations. Even worst case scenario curb stompings won’t upset me all that much considering the talent on that side of the field. A 14-24 point loss I would consider “expected”, less than 14 and I’m actually somewhat happy, and if we win, I’m driving to Muncie and tearing down the goal posts. Let Stan Parrish try and stop me.

This is one of those games where (at least to me) “success” is defined as moments of good play, an injury-free day, and not getting our innards blasted all over the field. All three of those things happen and it’s a successful Saturday.

Enemy Recon
For your Iowa reading pleasure, check out BlackHeartGoldPants, easily one of the best collegiate blogs out there. Funny, on point, and actually knowledgeable about the sports they cover, it’s a seamless mix of knock your socks off stats, info, and insight as well as dick and fart jokes. That is a symphony of excellence. You can check them out here, as well as their Ball State preseason coverage here and here. Enjoy.

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Know a ’10 Opponent: Purdue

In an effort to educate, preview, and most importantly, make fun of, the upcoming teams which dare play the Cardinals, OTP is proud to present the Know a ’10 Opponent series. Like we always caution, previewing and attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, especially two months away from the season is basically begging for failure, but we’ll fling some poo and see what sticks, shall we? I mean, after all, we predicted like 10 wins for BSU last season and we totally nailed that one, didn’t we? I can’t find the results, so let’s just go with that. So sit back, boys and girls, and know your ’10 opponents.

Purdue University Boilermakers
Let’s take a little trip, Cardinals fans, a trip down memory lane. It was 2008 and it was a lovely year. The Cards started out 3-0 after wins over Northeastern, Navy, and Akron. And then a mighty test loomed. A test that was a road date against a BCS conference team, a classification of team that Ball State had never defeated. But the winds of change were blowing, as well as a metric ton of hot air and bullshit from Bloomington. IU fans were borderline ridiculous the week leading up to the game so it was just desserts when we took their arrogance, disrespect, and hyperbole and collectively crammed it down their cramhole. 42-20. We haven’t forgotten.

This year, BSU will once again take its Cardinal show on the road as we invade Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, IN on September 18. Will this Ball State team be competitive? Can we hang with the Boilers? Will a miracle upset happen? Would it be an upset if it did? OPT’s thoughts: yes, yes, maybe, and a little. You’re welcome.

Talking to Boiler fans, or even BSU fans, and it seems as if Purdue is lauded as someone who has beaten our drum on more than a few occasions. And they have, to the tune of a 7-0 all-time record against BSU. The closest game was also the most recent, in 2006, with a margin of 10. Pointing to that game as a reason why we’ll be close is just as crazy as pointing to the 59-7 beatdown in 2004 as evidence that we’re due an assstomping. Neither gives any perspective whatsoever to this year’s matchup.

Ironically enough, there are a quite a few similarities between the Indiana game of 2008 and the Purdue game of 2010, besides the obvious conference affiliation. This is a Ball State team who has experienced the rowdiest of the rowdy road crowds last year at Auburn, the same way most of the team of 08 cut their teeth at Michigan and Nebraska. This is a Ball State team that is capable of great things just as they are capable of great mistakes. As we said with Indiana, if BSU shows up to play and Indiana makes mistakes then that was a game the Cardinals could win. The same can ultimately be said for this game. If both teams play to potential then it’s a likely Purdue win, as the talent gap from the MAC to the Big 10 is that severe. However, that’s the great thing about football… any given Saturday and anything can happen. Any fan from BSU expecting us to walk up and stomp a mudhole in some Boiler ass is fooling themselves, just as any Purdue fan who looks at last year’s 2-10 disaster as an indicator of the potential of the 2010 Cardinals and thinks this is anywhere close to the same team. In fact, Purdue should think that. Their fans, their students, their staff, their players, and really anyone associated with the football program. Yes… that’s it. There’s no reason to prepare or worry. Let’s go with that.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Purdue is a funny darn team, at least to me. In my head, I remember the Drew Brees and Curtis Painter years, the Kyle Orton years, the “Basketball on Grass” that people seemed to laude. But going back through the record books, it’s like Purdue was always just short of that next brass ring. Good team? Absolutely. Great team? Eh…. not so much. In the 2000s, Purdue has clocked in 6 winning seasons, 1 .500 season, and 3 losing seasons. Highest wins? 9 in 2003. Lowest? 4 in 2008.

The Man Who Wears the Headset
Purdue head coach Danny Hope enters his second year as the engineer on the Boiler express. His head coaching background isn’t that extensive as he’s only been the Purdue coach for a season, with a 5-7 record. Before that, he was the head coach at FCS Eastern Kentucky, with a 35-22 record. Hope is a former EKU alum and has spent his entire career hopping around from assistant to assistant position. Of note… he also coached at Louisville twice! Which of course makes us hate him even more. Nothing about Hope says that he will be as successful as former coach Joe Tiller, the first proponent of the spread offense at Purdue, but Hope should be fine to continue the good but not excellent tradition of Boiler football.

Last season, Hope’s premier, the Boilers were a middle of the pack (58th) scoring offense and a bottom third (89th) team in scoring defense. Purdue also was an exceptionally balanced team statistically last year, which will create problems for defenses. The addition of Marve may slant things toward the pass a bit, but expect the Boilers to still be a team capable of smash mouth old school Big 10 ball.

Players and Stats of Note
Perhaps the most interesting character in the Purdue cast for 2010 is QB Robert Marve. The transfer from Miami will take his first snaps as a Boiler QB in the fall, and Marve is one of those players that is just as likely to torch a team into submission as he is to make some critical mistake in a clutch situation. Marve has had his fair share of problems, academically and otherwise, and after a messy transfer now finds himself with a relative fresh start. We can only hope some of those demons rear their ugly head the week of the BSU game.

Qs and As
Whenever possible, we like to ask our fellow blogrificans if they would like to shed some light on their program. Purdue blog Hammer and Rails was kind enough to do so…

OverThePylon: So give us the real deal… most Purdue fans see BSU as the 2-10 failure from last year, right? Have you all forgotten about the 12-2 season already? There was another Indiana school who overlooked the Cardinals and Ball State as some sort of little brother in the football world up until the moment we beat them at home. How worried are the Boilermaker fans that little old BSU is going to give the Boilers a run for the money?
HammerAndRails: I think a player like MiQuale Lewis worries us a bit. We got torched by a strong running Northern Illinois team last season. If anything, that might hurt Ball State’s chances. The Huskies embarrassed us at home and this team will be focused to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Unfortunately, our run defense has been something short of awful for several seasons. If he can dominate and control he clock it will help Ball State’s chances more than anything.

I certainly haven’t forgotten about the 12-2 season. While beating Indiana isn’t that great since they are everyone’s little brother, I was more impressed by recent performances at Nebraska and Michigan. You guys certainly scared the bejesus out of both teams, especially Michigan when you nearly ruined the dream Michigan-Ohio State game of 2006. I would certainly take more pride in either of those games than beating Indiana.

OTP: The newest face for Purdue is QB Robert Marve, the former Miami Hurricane who transferred last year. What are most Boiler fans’ expectations of Marve and the offense under his control? More of the same from years past or a significantly increased presence of the passing game? Are we looking at the next Drew Brees/Curtis Painter here?
HaR
:Marve brings us an interesting element in that he has a stronger arm than Joey Elliott and he is probably the most mobile quarterback since Drew Brees. Since my wife is a Hurricane alum I saw his entire season at Miami and I was unimpressed at the time. He allegedly has settled down a bit and matured off the field since leaving Coral Gables. That’s a good thing because it was a major issue at The U. I saw him play once in person when we flew down for a game against Virginia Tech and he was good, but not great in that game. Granted, that was nearly two years ago, but it was one of his final on the field performances.

I think honestly you’ll see more balance between the run and the pass than before. Ralph Bolden rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season and Al-Terek McBurse is a player that can break out in the running game. Coach Hope seems to want more balance based on last season. Players like Justin Siller and Marve possibly taking snaps at quarterback also make them good runners.

OTP: RB Ralph Bolden started the year on fire, with 357 yards and 4 TDs in his first 2 games. In his final 9 he managed 578 yards and only 5 TDs. That seems a bit streaky to me. What gives? Will he be the straw that stirs the Purdue drink this fall or will it be the Robert Marve show?
HaR: There are major questions about Bolden playing at all because he tore his ACL in spring practice. It was the second time he has torn that ACL in his career, and he didn’t have surgery until May 4th. They have not officially ruled him out for the year, but I would be shocked if he was ready to play little more than four months after surgery. I suppose it is possible though.

Likely Ball State will see a couple of different looks. Al-Terek McBurse was the star of last year’s recruiting class. He was a four-star out of Florida and he got a few carries in the backfield with no significant yardage. He showed what is capable of by taking the second half kickoff back for a touchdown against Indiana. He’ll probably get most of the carries. Keith Carlos shifted from wide receiver to running back when Bolden went down, which was his JuCo position. Dan Dierking, a senior now, will likely get some carries. The wild card is Siller. After missing last season due to an academic suspension, this former quarterback has returned. He torched Michigan in 2008 with his running ability and we currently have him as a wide receiver. He started 2008 as a running back before moving back to quarterback when Elliott and Curtis Painter got hurt. That means we might see him in the Wildcat for a few plays.

OTP: WR Keith Smith strikes me as a big play receiver who is capable of taking over games. We unfortunately had that happen to us last year with BG’s Freddie Barnes. Tell our readers a bit about his style. Streaky speed guy on the outside? Possession guy across the middle? What’s he best at?
HaR: Smith is mostly a possession guy in the slot. He is the biggest slot receiver we have ever had though. I think he is a lot like Dustin Keller, our first round tight end in 2008. Keller was a matchup nightmare that could not be tackled one on one (and indeed had a highlight reel play in the 2006 game with Ball State). Keith is basically a big, strong guy with good hands that runs great routes. We want to get him the ball in space as much as possible because he can break tackles for big plays. That’s not bad for a guy that was originally a quarterback when recruited, then he became a safety. He even flashed that QB prowess a bit last year by throwing a touchdown pass on a trick play at Oregon in the final two minutes. We missed the two-point conversion to tie, but it was a hell of a play.

And yes, that means there is the possibility of us having three former quarterbacks on the field at the same time with Marve, Siller, and Smith. I am dreaming of the fun we can have with that.

OTP: The Boilers come into the BSU game after the season opener against Notre Dame and a week 2 FCS opponent. Am I crazy for thinking the Boilers may be a bit prone to overlook a team that was 2-10 last season and long thought to be the lowest of the low in Indiana college football? Taking that into account, are fans happy with just a win or do they need a very big drubbing of the Cardinals to feel ok about the Boilers going forward?
HaR: I think it depends on how things break in the Notre Dame game. Western Illinois was awful at 1-10 last year, so anything less than a blowout would have us concerned. I think we can take an Irish team that doesn’t have a real identity yet. That should be a very good game and test to see how far we have come.

I do think most fans expect to beat Ball state. I am a little concerned because of the experience that Ball State has returning. That experience can help the Cards improve in a hurry. You also have a pair of 1-AA teams before us, so you should come in at a confident 2-0. From our two MAC games (you and Toledo the following week) I think we have reason to fear Ball State more.

How Worried Are We?

Most Card fans will tell you that the Purdue game would be the 2nd toughest challenge on the schedule this fall as it’s on the road, a BCS opponent, and an in-state rival with talent and ability at key skill positions. Is it a game that’s destined for a blowout? I don’t think so, but remember what I said earlier about any given Saturday? If BSU comes out and plays mistake-free football while creating a few Boiler gaffes, then we may have a very special Saturday. If the reverse becomes reality and BSU miscues and mistakes are the flavor of the day then it’s going to be a very long day in West Lafayette. Hence, Code Red for this particular game, akin to marrying a Swedish supermodel and then cheating on her with everyone that even remotely looks at you or your golf bag. The odds of that going well are about one in 100 million. Dollars. HEY-O!

The Tacks-o-Brass
This is one of those challenging games where the Cardinal colored glasses have the potential to make a comeback. I would love to sit here and proudly proclaim that this is a toss up game, that the Cards will be competitive, that it is our game to lose, but I simply cannot do that in good faith. This game ultimately comes down to the Boilers. Play to potential and it’s a W. Make mistakes and it could easily by an L. Come on mistakes!

Know a ’10 Opponent: Liberty

In an effort to educate, preview, and most importantly, make fun of, the upcoming teams which dare play the Cardinals, OTP is proud to present the Know a ’10 Opponent series. Like we always caution, previewing and attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, especially two months away from the season is basically begging for failure, but we’ll fling some poo and see what sticks, shall we? I mean, after all, we predicted like 10 wins for BSU last season and we totally nailed that one, didn’t we? I can’t find the results, so let’s just go with that. So sit back, boys and girls, and know your ’10 opponents.

Liberty University Flames
I’ll be honest with you, friends and countrymen. Part of me wishes this game was being played in Lynchburg, VA where Liberty is located. I was “fortunate” to spend a year of my life in that city, and if you ever get the chance to visit… pass. However, this preview and post isn’t about the city of Lynchburg proper. It is about Liberty University and their football team, the second opponent for the Cardinals in 2010, and the second FCS opponent that BSU will challenge in as many weeks.

Normally, I would bitch and complain about two consecutive FCS opponents, or really two FCS opponents at all, but quite frankly, after last season, I will take wins however they come. FCS opponents? Awesome. Muncie middle schools? Super. BSU Rec league flag football champions? Suit ’em up. There will be a time to demand excellence in scheduling and a commitment to long-term success. For now, I just want wins. Any wins. The sweet tasty delicious kind that blow the stench of a 2-10 season right out the door. That’s what’s needed, and hence, why it’s only a mild low-level grumble from OTP about two FCS schools.

If you’re like me, you like to know a little about the school we’re playing before you decide your pre-game course of travel down the highway of mockery. You also need to know what they do better than us so as to perhaps see a counter attack of smack before it actually is lobbed across the interweb or the parking lot. The good for Liberty is they have money. Significant money. Fuck me money and fuck you money. Money, money. They are growing by leaps and bounds, new buildings, and an expansion of the football  stadium to around 30,000. Impressive, right? But let’s not cream our jeans in envy just yet.

Liberty was founded by the late Jerry Falwell, whom I actually was behind in line at the Taco Bell drive thru in Lynchburg. He got 2 large diet Pepsis in case you were curious. The mantra of Liberty is the “Liberty Way”, and their code of student conduct is intense. Let me give you the cliff’s notes version… “If it’s fun, and you would enjoy it, then don’t even consider doing it.” There’s a series of punishments and fines for activities like breaking curfew, drinking, smoking, attending dances, watching R rated movies, wearing clothes with any kind of holes, entering the bedroom of the opposite sex, and viewing sexually explicit material. I know… take a moment. Let that sink in.

And more importantly, if the same code of conduct was enforced at BSU, I would have been expelled after weekend 1. Their “Do Not” list was more like the average Tuesday night. Camel Lights, Bud Light, and my aversion to porn are just three of the infinite reasons why I am not a Liberty alum or staff member, since they have to abide by the same code.

Now some of you may be thinking there’s a loophole in the above conduct code. It says “opposite sex”, so perhaps a late night game of tummy sticks is ok? Wrong. Arresting gay rights activists, pulling out from a political action group that had a group of gay republicans, and even hosting an anti-gay conference is all in a days work for the Liberty faithful and the folks that run the school. I would imagine for a gay student, Liberty makes Abu Ghraib look like Disneyworld. (Irony alert… their mascot is the Flames. That made me chuckle when I found that out and it still does.)

For the BSU fans, is it likely that Liberty fans that you’ll encounter in Muncie will condemn you to hell for this drinky, smokey, hole in clothes type “fun” we like to have in the tailgating lots? Most likely not. But play it safe and leave your rainbow flags and assless chaps at home just to keep the peace, mmkay?

What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Perhaps focusing on things like religion and schoolwork actually benefits the football team. BYU agrees, and Liberty has certainly had its share of success recently. 2007, 2008, and 2009 Big South Conference Champions, and a total resurgence of the football team under head coach Danny Rocco has characterized the Flames over the last several seasons. A staunch defense and a high-powered offense make the Flames a very dangerous team. One thing to note, though, is that Liberty does not take the payday games against major opponents as they have no need for the money. So their win-loss record and stats of note are compiled annually against nearly exclusive FCS opponents. They did play West Virginia last season, losing by 13, and Toledo in 2007, losing by 1. Each of the last two years saw Liberty ranked in the Sporting News FCS poll by season’s end, clocking in at 14th and 22nd respectively.

8-3 in 2009 and 5-1 in conference play means this is a team very used to winning regardless of the opponents. Liberty also has knocked off two MAC opponents, Buffalo in 1998 while they were still in the FCS and Eastern Michigan in 1989, a MAC member at the time.

The Man Who Wears the Headset
Danny Rocco seems to be the real deal and someone that isn’t deserving of even a cursory barb thrown his way. To take a team that was 1-10 in 2005, increase the wins to 6 in 2006, and then rattle off three straight conference titles means he’s doing something right. He has a ton of experience, both in the NFL and major college BCS level conferences, so Rocco is making a major impact and running this FCS school like a BCS powerhouse. He has energized the fans, the administration, and really the entire area. Focusing on both offense and defense, Liberty has set school and national records in both over the last several years.

The three-time Big South Coach of the Year (06,07,08) just signed a contract extension through the 2014 season, and if this success continues he could have his pick of jobs from the FBS division.

Players and Stats of Note
Offensively, Liberty returns several key skill players, but must replace their QB. Redshirt junior Mike Brown saw action and gametime last season, but this will be the first as the presumptive starter. He is an explosive dual threat, capable of running or passing, and the Cardinal defense will need to step up and play big to stop him. At the running back position, 09’s statistical leader Aldreakis Allen returns for the Flames, after 530 yards and 9 TDs, similar numbers that Mike Brown had. Stop Brown and the Cards win. Plain and simple.

How Worried Are We?

This opponent’s OTP Threat Level is hard to pin exactly. While the worrisome nature of playing the first quality opponent of the year is valid, that first quality opponent is still an FCS team, this BSU team is much improved from last year, and it just doesn’t feel right to peg an FCS opponent as a medium worry level. So we’ll stick them in Category Blue for now… sort of like drinking tequila on an empty stomach. Odds are nothing bad happens, but the potential for waking up next to a lagoon creature of sorts is a definite possibility.

The Tacks-o-Brass
Is Liberty Southeast Missouri State? No… they are far better. Are they New Hampshire from last season? Perhaps. But the key question to ask is whether or not this BSU team has progressed or learned anything since the last time they stepped on the field with an FCS power. Perhaps the saving grace for BSU is the fact that this isn’t game #1 for the 2010 season. If that was the case, our Threat Level may be considerably higher. Expect a win, but take nothing for granted, and if the defense lets Mike Brown run wild, then it could be a very long day in Muncie.

Know a ’10 Opponent: Southeast Missouri State

In an effort to educate, preview, and most importantly, make fun of, the upcoming teams which dare play the Cardinals, OTP is proud to present the Know a ’10 Opponent series. Like we always caution, previewing and attempting to quantify the unquantifiable, especially two months away from the season is basically begging for failure, but we’ll fling some poo and see what sticks, shall we? I mean, after all, we predicted like 10 wins for BSU last season and we totally nailed that one, didn’t we? I can’t find the results, so let’s just go with that. So sit back, boys and girls, and know your ’10 opponents.

Southeast Missouri State
Remember last year when we played an FCS opponent? Remember when they beat us? Remember how you wanted to find the nearest prostitute and chase her naked with a chainsaw?

No? Well, maybe that was just me. Thankfully, no one called my landlord. But the first two items you should remember in plain and vivid detail, because it was during that little contest that real worry and doubt crept into most people’s minds about the potential suckfest we would have to endure in 2009. And by potential, I mean actual.

The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks will venture to the Scheu to open the 2010 season on September 2, a Thursday!, and will hopefully be the sacrificial FCS lamb that we are praying to 6 pound 8 ounce baby Jesus that we need. 09 saw us schedule an FSC power, a literal small school juggernaut. This year? Not so much.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?
SEMO has played in the FCS since 1991, but has never won their conference (the OVC) or played in the FCS playoffs. In 09, they clocked in with a 2-9 record, and were 0-5 away from Houck Stadium, which at 10,000 seats probably still has more restrooms than the Scheu. They’ve also only beaten one FBS team ever, Middle Tennessee State in 2002. Since 1994 they’ve had 2 winning seasons. This season, they return a total 16 starters from that ’09 2-9 squad, so at least they have plenty of players that know how to lose. And knowing is half the battle.

The Man Who Wears the Headset
SEMO’s head coach has quite the impressive resume… as an assistant. Tony Samuel graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1981 after playing defensive end for the Huskers and being part of Tom Osborne’s very first recruiting class. Impressive. After graduating, spent 4 years at Western Michigan and Stanford, then headed back to Nebraska. As an assistant, working with outside LBs and rushing ends, he helped the Huskers to 11 Bowl games in 11 seasons, coached 6 All Americans and 12 future NFLers all while winning 2 National Championships. That earned him a head coaching gig at New Mexico State, where the shine and luster of the Huskers didn’t continue. Mediocre success at NMSU led him to Purdue as an assistant coach in 2005, and he’s been at SEMO since 2006. He’s 13-32 overall and 6-25 in the OVC with the Redhawks, his best season being his first… at 4-7. Samuel has the pedigree to be a winner, I guess. But one does have to wonder if those stellar assistant numbers had more to do with the overwhelming amount of talent he coached than the X’s and O’s he coached them with.

Players and Stats of Note
In terms of players to be worried about…to be truthful? None. SEMO runs multiple offensive sets, averaging just over 21 points per game in 2009. Last year, they shifted slightly more to the run, averaging a smidge over 183 yards per game on the ground compared to 146 through the air. They also averaged roughly 64 yards per game in penalties, a trait that BSU exploited in several opponents last season. Defensively, they gave up 204 yards rushing and 183 through the air on average. Quale should be salivating.

How Worried We Are

The OTP Threat Level opens the season with a nice cool green. Akin to drinking milk a couple days past the expiration date. Is there a possibility that you’ll get the hershey squirts later at work? Potentially, but infinitely small. More than likely, your breakfasty treat will be just as good as ever, and the Cards should win this win in a snoozer. Thursday night, first game of the season, renewed passion and fire that comes with a 0-0 record… all good things and all signs of a victory bound to happen.

The Tacks-o-Brass
Bottom line is these are the kinds of games that BSU simply has to win. This isn’t an FCS power, this isn’t the first game of the Parrish era, this isn’t the first year in a new system, and this isn’t a roster loaded with freshmen who have never seen game speed action. Is it a win? Most likely. Does it have to be? You bet your ass. The one thing that concerns me is this is the only FBS game on the schedule for SEMO this season. It is also their first. The high emotion and potential for trickery could keep them in this one longer than they should be.