- If the Ball brothers saw a gameday in Muncie today, they would be very proud of their investment. So much pride runs through this university that bears the name of its benefactors. The brothers Ball are most famous for their glass jar company – their name scripted on each Mason style container. They wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to them by purchasing land and donating it to the state of Indiana. That land would become Ball State University.
Ball State was competitive at Notre Dame a couple weeks back. That same spirit would need to emerge as a winless, yet hungry Western Kentucky team strolled into Muncie. A great crowd was anticipated to fill Scheumann Stadium as evidenced by the expansive tailgating scene that filled the green acreage beyond the concrete lots.
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is one of the few college football stadiums named after a company. But, that does not mean that it has sold out in the quality of atmosphere. The city of Louisville experiences a bit of an identity crisis as it is the southern point of the north and the northern part of the south. A sign providing all the different pronunciations of the city welcomes you into the stadium and it illustrates the identity issues this place possesses. The stadium is located on a sports complex that houses every sporting arena imaginable from swimming to lacrosse. The walk up to the stadium is interesting as one side reveals the many sporting arenas and a Papa John’s pizza joint (of course), while the other side is grossly industrial. It’s as if you are walking on the border between two different countries.
I know fans are crazy in the south, but I have been holding onto a misconception that the extreme craziness was reserved for the Southeastern Conference…until I ran into a throng of Middle Tennessee State fans. The passion began to border hostility which certainly was amazing for fans cheering on a 2-4 team from the Sun Belt conference. Anyhow, the Blue Raiders took an early 14-0 lead with an interception return for a touchdown followed by a halfback pass for another score. From there on, Louisville took over…
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was not exactly booming with excitement on this homecoming Saturday, but the fans came in good force on a beautiful day that really was meant for football. The early lead by Middle Tennessee State caught the crowd off-guard. But, it did not take long for the Cardinals to make a second half push and hold off the Blue Raiders 42-23.
While Louisville fans casually walked away from an expected victory, Blue Raider fans kept the fervor comin’. A late mess of poor calls by the referees had the fans in blue screaming, yelling, and taking it out on those clad in red. All of this from a team working out of a conference that earns only one bowl bid a year? If this were a MAC team like Western Michigan or Akron, there would a few groans and grunts, but not the outright southern inhospitality that was displayed on Saturday. Honestly, I was impressed and wished more of that same passion from lower echelon midwestern teams. Nevertheless, Cardinal fans went received a happy homecoming while turning a deaf ear to their neighbors from the south.
The entire state of Michigan focused their attention on the Michigan Wolverines and their response to the earth-shattering upset they endured a week earlier to the Appalachian State Mountaineers. If only the folks in Ypsilanti could care that much about their football team. Eastern Michigan University is only ten minutes from the University of Michigan, but they couldn’t be further apart in fan support and devotion. Attendance numbers for their home opener at Rynearson Stadium did not even surpass the 6,000 mark. The scene looked more like a spring game than a home opener. The highlight of the afternoon probably came at halftime when the 1987 California Bowl champion, Eastern Michigan Hurons, were honored on the field. Twenty years since Eastern’s last bowl game and the empty seats in the stands provided solid proof. As the game continued, it became clear that their streak of bowl absences would continue.
Ball State University might want to replace their maintenance staff with NIU tailback Garrett Wolfe as he covered more ground and clipped more blades of grass with his shoes than John Deere could with a fleet of mowers. On an evening where nearly every type of imaginable weather came over Sheumann Stadium, nothing could stop the nation’s leading rusher.
After devouring Murray State last week, the Badgers were clearly ready for seconds as Ball State wandered into Madison. With Wisconsin’s flimsy non-conference schedule, many hoped tailback Ron Dayne would continue to accumulate yards toward the nation’s rushing record. However, the Badgers were forced to rely more on special teams and defense in the first half due to an offense that appeared to be in a haze.