Friday, July 25, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #25

So here we sit, roughly a month out from college football. The Saturdays are still warm. The pool is still open. Baseball doesn't really matter yet, but here we are. A month away. One long agonizing month away from the start of the College Football season.

To kick us off, Ruck's going to be sorting out his Top 25 for the coming year. Followed by his Bowl Selections, Conference Previews, and award winners. Today begins with #25... the completely homer pick of Ball State University.


Anyone can go out on a limb and pick schools based on simple wins and losses. The real know-it-alls in this crazy blogosphere do it the old fashioned way... with unabashed bias for their alma mater. And since David Letterman, Garfield the Cat, and that fucking douchebag Papa John aren't writing anything up, that leaves me.

What You Need To Know: The pick of BSU at 25 is not as homerish as it seems. The Cardinals are considered one of the strongest teams in the MidAmerican conference and expect to be competing for not only the outright MAC West title after sharing it last year, but also the overall conference title and a berth in the Motor City Bowl. BSU is coming off their first winning season since 1996, and despite being pasted 52-30 by Rutgers in the International Bowl the Cardinals announced that they were no longer lovable losers.

Fast forward to 2008 and with it the return of nine offensive starters for a team that averaged just a shade under 434 yards and 32 points per game. Playmakers on both sides of the ball, a strong coach in Brady Hoke, and a somewhat weaker schedule than years past all bode well for the Cards' success in 2008.

Who You Need To Know & Their 07 Stats:
QB Nate Davis, Junior, 3667 yds passing and 30 TD
WR Dante Love, Senior, 2007 First Team All MAC, 100 rec., 1398 yds, 10 TD
CB BJ Hill, Senior, 5 INT
TE Darius Hill, Senior, 65 rec., 926 yds, 11 TD

Game To Watch: The Cardinals are fortunate to not have any payday games on their schedule this year which would require a Herculean effort to get a W (See: Nebraska in 2007, Michigan in 2006). What that means though is the Cardinals must make the most of a weaker schedule. A non-conference schedule of Navy, Indiana, Western Kentucky, and Northeastern could conceivably have the Cardinals approaching double digit wins this season.

The biggest games of the year for Ball State, though, will be the mid-week clashes at season's end which will most likely decide the conference champion, November 19th at Central Michigan and November 25th hosting Western Michigan to be specific. Winning both of those games means Ball State will most likely be playing for the outright conference title.

They'll Do Well If....: They win 3 of their 4 out of conference games. They stay healthy. They beat Central Michigan.

Season Outlook: Anything less than a MAC West title and a semi-major Bowl Game will be a disappointment. Look for the Cardinals to sneak into the Top 25 by season's end, as a two-loss season is very possible, with a one-loss or undefeated season not entirely out of the question.

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