Having a 6-6 season is good for some schools and embarrassing for others. In our situation over in Ypsilanti, Michigan, going 6-6 was both a high-note and a disappointment.
Heading into 2011, it was Ron English's third year at Eastern Michigan, just a couple years after he was hired in and urging fans to "Embrace The Process". He knew it was going to take time to mold a team together good enough to be a threat in the MAC, which we all know is an anomaly.
But this team was good.
It started off with a couple of wins at home against FCS opponents Howard and Alabama State, lost a pair on the road to Penn State and Michigan, came back home to beat Akron and lost on the road at Toledo. Things started to get interesting when it came to winning the Michigan MAC Trophy. Central had the trophy at the time, but EMU claimed it after winning a fantastic game at Kelly-Shorts Stadium, then coming back home to take the trophy, beating WMU 14-7 at home. This season is just awesome. I'm on cloud nine at this point.
Ohhh, kill 'em.
PEOPLE WENT TO GAMES. SERIOUSLY. THESE THINGS CAN HAPPEN. LOOK! LISTEN! WE GOT MAD TURNT ON THAT 4RD & GOAL STOP.
Holy crap. We're 5-3 with two home games left. We... could... go... bowling! Well, we need two more wins since they're only counting one of those FCS games towards bowl-eligibility, but we've got this.
Undefeated at home, the 5-4 Ball State Cardinals led by this quarterback kid named Keith Wenning, who apparently has a freaking cannon. And Jawhan Edwards is sweet, too, but they didn't have a backfield quite like ours. Javonti Greene, Dominique White and Dominique Sherrer? Come at me bro. We've got this.
An ever-so eventful first half, EMU headed to the locker room with a slight 21-20 edge on Ball State, but our offense looked pretty good. The way we've been playing this past month, I'm not too awful worried about the second half. They were leading 17-14 after the first quarter, but our defense really stepped up before halftime. They've just gotta keep this up for 30 more minutes.
A little back-and-forth action on the scoreboard through the next two quarters and Keith Wenning put up a great drive downfield for the perfect setup to my saddest moment at Rynearson Stadium.
1:11 on the clock, Wenning misses his first two passes, but an unsportsmanlike conduct on Justin Cudworth and three straight complete passes later, the Cardinals have gone from their 27-yard line to the Eagles' 40-yard line. On 4th and 7, by the grace of Jeremy GuyGod, that sophomore quarterback kid, who I haven't really heard of until last week, connects with Briggs Orsbon for a clutch pass completion for 13 yards, moving within field goal range. Still a 44-yard attempt, but within range.
And with nine seconds left in the game, Steven Schott hits the go-ahead field goal. If were to close your eyes, you would still think the stands were empty just because of how quiet it got at Rynearson. But they weren't empty.
I remember my jaw dropping, my hands resting on top of my head, turning around to look at all of the heart-broken fans grabbing their belongings to head on home without saying a word. I remember looking at the scene thinking to myself, "these people will probably never come back again."
Alex Gillet only had time to make one play, but his throw was no good.
Final score: Ball State wins 33-31.
We still needed two more wins to be bowl eligible. We beat Buffalo at home the following week, but we had to face Kent State and Northern Illinois on the road. Kent State beat us 28-22 by intercepting one of our passes in the end zone, and my road trip with three of my friends to DeKalb didn't necessarily go as planned after another close loss (18-12) to the Huskies.
You'd think 6-6 would be awesome for us, but it's not as good as everybody makes it out to be, even for Eastern Michigan.