Okay, so Ball State gets blown out 45-0 at Iowa. Understandable — the gap between talent levels are just that vast. But zero points is always a bad showing. The worst part was that Ball State didn't even have any scoring opportunities.
How many times did the Cardinals reach Iowa territory? Once. They reached the Iowa 39-yard line, in the fourth quarter, down 35-0. It was a fourth and three, and Ball State coach Stan Parrish decided ... to punt. The result was a touchback.
Ten Iowa points later, with four minutes and change left in the rout, the Cards found themselves at midfield with a 4th and 2. Parrish sent out the punting team. They kicked it, Iowa fair caught, and the clock eventually expired.
Their two best scoring chances — which weren't that great to begin with — were deferred.
Call me an eccentric football mind, but when you're down five scores in the fourth quarter ... field position's not really the key battle of importance. You want to give your team the chance to crack the scoreboard against a ranked team, don't you? Bowling Green scored 21 at Michigan. EMU got 20 at Ohio State. Akron — yes, Akron! — managed a double-sawbuck at Indiana.
It gives you confidence leading into MAC play, and it makes the other team's message board minions clamor about how they have defensive problems.
On that second drive, maybe the writing was on the playcalling. They ran it six straight times, including a rush on 3rd and 6 that gained four yards. It's like they were just trying to end the game as quick as possible and get ready for next week at CMU.
The Cardinals are now at 1-3 and don't seem to have much more than a decent running game. Obviously the decision of punting on fourth and short on the other side of the field is the least of Ball State's problems, and the different between 45-0 and 45-3 seems negligible, but how better to practice for a close game in the MAC by trying to score on Iowa's second-string?