BY NICK LAWLER| Ball State Sports Link
As the clock hit zero last Saturday in Mount Pleasant, the Ball State Cardinals moved one step closer to their ultimate goal: Detroit.
The win moved the Cardinals to 4-1 on the season and in a first-place tie at the top of the Mid-American Conference West Division.
“These guys are on a mission, and nobody is feeling like we’ve accomplished anything yet,” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said. “We’re just in a position here to have one more opportunity at home to get the job done, and our focus is to finish that deal.”
Riding high on a four-game winning streak, Ball State will face off against Western Michigan in the MAC West Championship game to decide which squad will represent the West against East Champion Buffalo in the MAC Championship game in Detroit.
The Broncos are coming off a high-scoring loss (53-42) to Eastern Michigan last week, a team that Ball State was able to overcome in Week 2, 38-31.
As the Cardinals have heated up these past few weeks, it has been on the shoulders of field general Drew Plitt.
A preseason nominee to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Manning Award watch lists, Plitt perhaps got off to a slower than expected start to the season, averaging just over 250 passing yards per game and accounting for only four touchdowns over the team’s first three games.
However, it has been a new man in Muncie over the past two weeks. Plitt has exploded into the spotlight following Huntley’s nagging injury that has kept him sidelined.
With the passing game taking center stage, Plitt has won MAC West Offensive Player of the Week in consecutive weeks, accounting for eight total touchdowns and averaging 335 passing yards in those contests.
Plitt’s confidence in his team has been unwavering, and he noted that spreading the ball out a little more has only boosted that.
“It just solidifies everything I know about our team,” Plitt said. “The weapons that we have are really endless. Anyone can get the ball at any point in time.”
That diversity in the passing game has played a big part in the team’s recent success.
Plitt has also utilized his legs a bit more in recent weeks, picking up two rushing touchdowns and 46 yards in the last two wins.
The Ball State quarterback is thriving on a team that is 4-1 for the first time since their 10-3 season back in 2013.
“Everybody’s just in a better mood when you win.”
One thing is for sure, Plitt is heating up at exactly the right time. The effect his success has had on the team is also impressive.
While the offense has certainly seen a small uptick in production, keeping the defense on the sidelines while sustaining long drives has allowed the defense to have a midseason revival.
After allowing over 31 points per game during the first three weeks, the unit has held its opponents to 24 and 20 points, respectively, in the last two games.
However, the team is not letting their success step in the way of its desire to be in Detroit.
“We’re not satisfied, and you can tell by the number of people who are in here watching film right now,” Plitt said. “Nothing changes for me, business as usual.”
Once the Cardinals take care of said business, they will be vying for the MAC Championship in Detroit. #DOB
Sports Link GameDay LIVE gets you ready for the action Saturday at 11 a.m. on social (@bsusportslink), leading up to kick on ESPN+ and with SL Digital (www.mixlr.com/bsusportslink).