Friday, September 19, 2008

Cardinal Preview: Indiana (hatehatehatehate)

vs.

Ball State vs. Indiana
Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
Game Time: 7:00pm
Television: Big Ten Network

It's Friday of IU Hate Week, and with it comes our preview of tomorrow's showdown. Well, showdown for Ball State. Listening to most IU fans talk, this is going to be a walkthrough for them. Sort of a glorified scrimmage to get them warmed up for Big Ten play. I think it's admirable that Ball State took our little old football team down to Bloomington to let the Hoosiers warm up against us. I mean, we're no Murray State or Western Kentucky, but I'm glad that IU threw us a bone and let us step on the field with them. Sort of like the ESPN "My Wish" segments where the retarded kid gets to meet his idols. We should be honored. We should bow to their impressive standard of Hoosier State mediocrity.

As I have been informed, this isn't a rivalry game for Indiana. In fact, it's no different than playing any of the other tune up games they've played. This is simply a game to get a W, and then move along to the "real competition" of the Big 10. Apparently "real competition" means getting your ass knocked around and finishing in the bottom half of the conference. Noted.

The Basics:
Ball State University Cardinals:
Location: Muncie, IN
Record: 3-0 (1-0 MAC)
Last Week: W vs. Akron 41-24

Indiana University Hoosiers:
Location: Bloomington, IN
Record: 2-0 (0-0 Big 10)
Last Week: W vs. Murray State 45-3 (Sep. 6)

Offense: To call this game "offensively centered" would be like calling Pearl Harbor a "sort of underhanded attack". Both teams come into the game with high powered offenses, playmakers all over the field, and the ability to shift gears when needed based on the balance of each team. IU brings a mobile quarterback, very different than Ball State. Junior Kellen Lewis is a severe threat to the chances of winning this game, as he can throw the ball, run the ball, and according to some IU fans, feed the masses at Memorial Stadium with just three fish and a loaf of bread. He also rolls an amazingly tight spliff from intelligence I've gathered.

IU also brings an outside rushing threat in Marcus Thigpen. The 5-9 senior has amazing speed and when he gets to the outside and turns the corner he's dangerous as evidenced by his 100-yard game against Murray State. Gone for the Hoosiers is big play wideout James Hardy, who torched the Cardinals for 116 yards and 2 scores on 8 catches last year. The Hoosiers have gained at least 450 yards in each of their last two games.

When BSU has the ball, it's the Nate Show live on location in Bloomington. Through the air, the Cardinals are one of the best in the nation, with receiver Dante Love. Davis is accurate and has yet to have a game under 300 yards this season. Overlooked in this offensive attack is MiQuale Lewis, a tough back who has increased production every game this season with his season-high 154 yards last week against Akron.
Advantage: By a small margin, but against an equal defense, I give BSU the edge.

Defense: Indiana comes to the game with an outstanding front 7 and a good secondary. Their weakness, if they have one, is the corner spot. Additionally, safety Austin Thomas is questionable to play. His running mate in the secondary is Nick Polk, who was signed to the program as a receiver. Polk is hard-hitting, fast, and has great hands. He'll largely be counted on to cover TE Darius Hill's routes across the middle or Dante Love's deep threats.

The defensive line is paced by ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton. The key matchup will be Indiana's defensive line against BSU's O-line. If they can win the battle up front, pressure Davis into mistakes, and not let him sit back and pick apart the secondary, then Indiana will be very successful.

Ball State comes to the Indiana game with a bit of a chip on its defensive shoulder. Though three games into the season, BSU has only played a traditional D-1 offense one time against Akron. Their first game against Northeastern was 1-AA and Navy brings with it a triple option attack. Against the Zips, the Cardinals were serviceable but not outstanding. They allowed 299 through the air and 119 on the ground, but almost 5 yards per carry on rushing attempts.

The front 7 is of great concern against an IU offensive line that is Big 10 quality. The good news for the BSU defense is IU is replacing three senior starters from that offensive line. The O-line for Indiana appears to be improving, giving up 2 sacks in the season opener to WKU and none the following week against Murray State. The defense doesn't need a herculean effort here, but it does need to perform well enough to not put the offense in holes. I am impressed by the ability of the defense to perform better against a team the second time they see them. The Navy game was a great example of knowing a team better and performing better against them the following year.
Advantage: The margin is reduced by the injury to safety Austin Thomas but IU does have the edge.

Coaching: Bill Lynch. Brady Hoke. Do we really need to continue? Lynch has had talent at IU unlike Hoke had when he started at BSU thanks largely to Terry Hoeppner's ability to recruit to Indiana and Lynch's inability to recruit in Muncie. On a sheer x's and o's standpoint, it's probably a push, but the simple fact that Lynch has a head coaching job anywhere after the trainwreck of his Ball State is laughable. Their both changing directions in their programs. The difference is Hoke is turning the corner to be a better football team. Lynch will simply fiddle on while the Titanic sinks around him.
Advantage: As evidenced by the fact that some IU fans are saying Hoke should be considered when Lynch inevitably leaves.

Intangibles: It's a respect game for both programs. Ball State is looking for respect from their in-state BCS brethren. The fans of IU have overlooked the program, insulted the school, and acted like this game is completely insignificant to the IU fanbase. It's just another game to them. Thankfully, games are not played on fansites.

For Indiana it's a game to get respect from the national media who seem smitten with Ball State. They're getting votes in both Top 25 polls. ESPN is writing columns about the Cardinals. No one, aside from their fans and team, is talking about IU. The arguments against their weak schedule, perennial drubbings from Big 10 opponents, and a general lack of respect amongst the media have given IU material for motivation should they choose to use it.

Normally the crowd and a game at night is a significant advantage for the home team. But let's be realistic... this is Indiana. I've been to games at Memorial Stadium and usually the only large crowds are brought with them by Michigan, Ohio State, or Kentucky.
Advantage: Push

Mascot:
Indiana University:

Indiana doesn't have a mascot for their Hoosier team names. So we get Coach Dale. In all his player punching rage. Woody Hayes says, "Good choice."

Ball State:

Charlie Cardinal. Bird of the people.
Advantage: Cardinals aren't the fiercest birds around, but damn it we have a mascot. What sort of communist school doesn't have a mascot?! If the teams go by Hoosiers, then just pick an Indiana resident to walk around and high five people. This is fifth grade shit.

Overall: I am a firm believer that flipping a coin will have just as good a chance as predicting the winner of this game than rational thought. The turning point in this game may very well be a key turnover, a defensive touchdown, or a special teams play. For the IU fans thinking Nate Davis and co. are going to be shut down by the IU defense, dream on. For the Cardinals fans expecting Ball State to walk out with a 20-point win, dream on. It's going to be an exciting game and one that will most likely come down to the wire. IU is a team to watch, who is capable of beating anyone. They are also not good enough to overlook anyone either. I'll root for them the rest of the year, but come Saturday, it's hate. Epic, massive, gargantuan. A supersize hate burger with a side of hate fries and a Hatorade to wash it all down. Game on. Hatehatehatehate.

Prediction:
Ball State 42
Indiana 38

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can make all the sarcastic comments you want, but Ball State has NEVER beat IU or any other BCS team. I mean, do you really expect IU fans to be afraid of BSU? This year's BSU team is good, but come on. Its hard to take you guys seriously, especially when you make this game out to be the Super Bowl. And no one is claiming IU has some amazing football tradition. We just don't get why you guys obsess so much over this game.

Papa Lou BSU said...

Thanks so much for that recap of our history of futility against BCS clubs, "anonymous" (wow, way to stand behind your opinions there).

However, I'm pretty certain that it won't be the 1997 or 2001 versions of the Cardinals that are suiting up in Bloomingtucky Saturday... it's the 2008 one.

And no one's obsessing over anything... we're simply returning some of the insults that TSIB folks have been throwing at us, unprovoked, for years. And that obviously drives you ninnies up a wall that we dare stand up for our school and our team...

Ryan said...

I was just on a Kelvin Samson message board when I stumbled across this. Let's just let the game play out, shall we? We'll save insults and "I told you so"s until Sunday.

Lucas P. Calhoun said...

Anonymous,

Listen, I am a twice-decorated, IU graduate and I have sat through many, many seasons of rough IU football. I will say that IU should be afraid of any opponent on their schedule. Even with eight home games and the lack of a couple of Big 10 heavy-hitters, getting to a bowl is not a lock. I love Hoosier athletics like I love my grandma...a lot. However, no game is a lock.

Also, I know one of the writers for this site. It is a blog site where they would like to talk about sports teams close to their respective hearts. This is a blog site and they can talk about whatever they would like to-as much as they want. If this was www.espn.com and this game was the cover-article, then yes, it would be too much.

You need too:
1) take a deep breath
2) realize that this is a blog
3) take another deep breath
4) have someone give you a hug
5) post your name
6) quit holding a grudge in the vein that Ball State did not admit you for a degree or something to that affect

Oh, Papa Lou BSU...Bloomtucky? Seriously? Have you ever been there? Bloomington is top to bottom, one of the best college towns in the country, and I have been to very many.

Ok, I am out.

John M said...

Your act has become pretty diappointing, Alan. First and foremost, trafficking in innuendo about use of hard drugs is pretty low rent, and defending it because it was in the rumor mill is even more pathetic. And of course, as you have noted in other quarters, Ball State is getting plenty of respect, even on the message board that you malign. Most of the anti-Ball State backlash is because of the supreme overconfidence shown by so many Cardinal fans in a series where only one of the games has been competitive (no these aren't the Cardinals of 1997, but neither are they the Hoosiers of 1997).

The fact remains, this is a game that means more to Ball State, or at least, winning this game means more to Ball State than it will to IU. The media expects Big Ten teams to beat MAC teams. Think the yahoo in North Carolina who is voting for you guys in the AP poll will switch his vote to Indiana if we win? Not a chance. On the other hand, a loss in this game probably hurts more to IU than to Ball State, but yes, it's a game where the main benefit of a win for IU is the absence of a loss. And Alan, if you are offended by the "it's not a rivalry" position, then make an argument that it is.

While I'm not a lifelong resident of the Muncie area, I did spend my high school years in Yorktown and enjoyed rooting for the Cardinals, both in football (the Bernie Parmalee era) and basketball (Kidd, McCurdy, Butts, Thompson, YHS's own Greg Miller, etc.). So I don't come in to this with any animus toward the Cardinals--quite the opposite. The main frustration among BSU fans seems to be the failure of IU folks to admit that IU and Ball State are academic and athletic peers. Sorry, we will never believe that, not even if you win this game tonight. Yes, IU typically finishes at or near the bottom of the Big Ten, but how has Ball State fared against members of IU's conference? And how has IU fared against members of Ball State's conference? You can make fun of our attendance, but even IU's worst crowds exceed the capacity of your stadium. If you think about that, you can consider how IU fans just might think we're in a better position (which certainly doesn't guarantee a win tonight--I think a margin of 7 or fewer points in either direction is likely).

Alan said...

John,

For the record, your fans were the ones spreading the rumors about Kellen Lewis and his, ahem, little problem.

It's all in good fun, man. Lighten up. Compared to the crap I've had to take from IU fans on the net this week, that comment isn't even a drop in the bucket.

If you don't go to the game, hope to see you on the Liveblog.

Go Cards!
Alan