What was projected as a close game against a middling BCS AQ school and an above average Mid-American Conference team, turned into a blowout Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Pete Lembo's explosive offense ran up 506 yards of total offense against the sixteenth ranked defense in the country. The victory marks Ball State's fourth victory over a BCS AQ school in three years. Lembo has been at the helm for all four of those victories. Lembo acknowledged the significance of this victory after the game.
"I'm not usually speechless, but I'm pretty darn close," Lembo said. "It's going to take a while for this one to really sink in. But this has to be the biggest win in the history of Ball State football in 90 years."
Despite dealing with a number of injuries, including linebackers Ben Ingle and Chris Calloway, the Cardinals turned a close game into a blowout in the fourth quarter, holding the Cavaliers to three points.
"Nothing compares to this," Lembo said. "Coming on the road to Virginia, beating an [Atlantic Coast Conference] opponent - a team with the caliber of athletes that they have and the fact that we are very much depleted."
The Cardinals excelled in all facets of their offensive game. Keith Wenning turned in his 6th 300 yard passing performance of 2013 in six games en route to passing Nate Davis as the leading passer in Ball State history. Jahwan Edwards became Ball State's all time leader in rushing touchdowns, carrying the ball 24 times for 155 yards and 3 scores. Despite leaving the game early in the third quarter, Willie Snead caught 6 passes for 104 yards. Jordan Williams lead all Cardinals receivers with 9 catches for 159 yards.
Ball State took advantage of four Cavaliers turnovers and 13 penalties totaling 93 yards. The Cavaliers scored two touchdowns against the depleted Cardinals after only scoring three against FBS opponents all year, but Ball State tightened the screws when it truly mattered.
"As the adversity grew in this game, our guys came closer and closer together," Lembo said.
Ball State moved to 5-1, a game shy of bowl eligibility, and received Top 25 votes on Sunday. It's worth noting that Ball State's lone loss, a defeat at North Texas, was played without Edwards, who has distinguished himself as one of the top running backs in the nation. With this win Ball State has demonstrated it is one of the top teams in the MAC, and a November matchup with Northern Illinois could determine who will represent the West Division in the conference championship game.
"This is big, folks," Lembo said. "This is big."