This needs to be asked: At this point, is Ball State beating Indiana in football an expectation?
It certainly feels like it but man, the Cardinals never make it look easy. Ball State won its third consecutive game against Indiana as Steven Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired for a stunning, thrilling and exasperating 41-39 victory over the Hoosiers in Bloomington on Saturday.
Let's explore the Willie Snead catch that set up the game-winning field goal ...
First off, what a catch by Snead. Second, I was watching the game with a number of fellow Ball State alums and I don't think any of us initially thought Snead caught the ball inbounds. Here's my best explanation: the elbow (out of bounds) and the hips (inbounds) hit at the same time and they applied the "tie goes in favor of the offense" rule. I'm not sure that's how it's is supposed to be applied, and if it had been ruled incomplete, I don't think the review would've overturned it.
I've always thought the "inconclusive evidence" argument was a cop-out for officials because it's a crutch. Something either happened or didn't happen; there's no in-between. Refs have to make a decision - they can't just rely in "inconclusive evidence" to make a final decision. In recent years, we've heard that phrase less and less as officials have gotten better at all this fancy instant replay pizzazz. But that may be the only play I've ever seen where you apply that phrase.
A few quick hitters from the game:
- Video game head coach Phil Friend agreed with Lembo's decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the IU 29 with 4:27 left and holding a 13-point lead. Get one yard, kill at least two minutes and for all intents and purposes end game. And then Jahwan Edwards was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Retroactive head coach Phil Friend would have preferred a Schott field goal attempt.
- As stated in Friday's preview, Ball State's defense is atrocious. The Hoosiers' second- and third-string quarterbacks led them to 558 yards from scrimmage - a number that seems downright preposterous. And there's really no way to fix things. All MAC defenses are pretty bad, so the Cards are just going to have to outscore everybody.
- IU's last two scoring drives ... from a Ball State perspective - WTF. Just poor everything, poor coverage, poor tackling, poor inability to avoid penalties. Ball State was whistled for THREE pass interference penalties on the go-ahead drive. The first two were legit - I don't think the third one should've held up since it was an uncatchable ball. But the way the drive was going, IU probably would've scored anyway.
- Most important, I had already accelerated my trash talk at 38-25 and had to go back and retract it. I tweeted "IU HIGH SCHOOL (clap clap clapclapclap)" to fellow BSU alum and Fox 59's Ken Sothman, along with sending various texts that I could not have recovered from had IU won.
- There's been a lot of discussion on why Indiana didn't run the clock down after they got to the 2-yard line. It seems simple enough: When you're down six points, you can't kill the clock and assume you're going to score. Obviously, if it's a tie game, center the ball with a run or two and kick the field. But Kevin Wilson can't just assume IU was going to punch it in (although the way IU drove may have you thinking different) and fans shouldn't have either. Football's a funny sport.
- Ball State ran for 206 yards, but it never really felt like it. Maybe the run game expectations were too high.
- Also, can't believe I got this far without mentioning Ball State's de-pantsing of IU cornerback Kenny Mullen. The Peegs message board has been all over him, and rightfully so - especially on the Jamill Smith pass to Keith Wenning on the quarterback throwback. That was a staple play for my high school freshman football team and always worked. I'm always surprised to see it work in college. Mullen was with Wenning on his pass route one second, and then somewhere in between that and the catch, Mullen looked in another direction and acted he had no idea where anything was. Beautiful play call, beautiful catch by Wenning.
- My tweet after the game-winning field goal: "Steve Schott, you magnificent bastard." Indeed.