By: Kyle Sellers
Ball State Sports Link
Ball State Football returns home to the Scheu for the Mid-American Conference opener after a tough road stretch against a top-10 team in Penn State and undefeated Wyoming.
This weekend it does not get any easier as the Cardinals will face a tough test in their MAC West rival the Toledo Rockets, who received some high preseason praise along with Ball State to finish toward the top of MAC West.
Like Ball State, Toledo is on a two-game skid. Last week, the Rockets were upset at home against the Colorado State Rams 22-6. However, do not let this Rockets squad fool you, they can do damage to teams.
The Rockets kept things close against top-15 Notre Dame in a game they should have won but lost it due to numerous penalties in the final two minutes, inevitably giving Irish quarterback Jack Coan a golden opportunity to win the game.
The last time these two teams on a family weekend was on September 28, 2013, resulting in a close Ball State win 31-24 behind the big three of Keith Wenning, Jahwan Edwards, and Willie Snead.
The reason family weekend is important is because it gives Ball State a great chance to come home and get back on track after a long road trip to Wyoming last week. A loud raucous crowd during a small losing streak can give this team exactly what it needs to get back on going as they head into conference play.
Ball State has gone 5-5 in its last ten family weekend games, while going 6-4 in its last ten MAC home openers. How does Ball State get over that .500 hump on family weekend with a big game coming up? They do it by bringing the competitive energy and staying loose, something head coach Mike Neu says the team has done a great job of balancing all week.
“I think a big part of it you got to have fun doing what you do. You gotta love coming into the building, got to love going through the game plan meetings and watching your opponent on tape you gotta love that part of it,” Coach Neu explains. “Then when you get out on the practice field that same juice, that same energy, that same smile that you had in the weight room, you have to make sure you carry that over to the practice field. Their energy, their focus there was a good balance in my opinion on the practice field. That is what is all about, just making sure guys are playing loose and having fun, it is still a game at the end of the day with 11 guys going to compete against 11 guys. I want to try and keep it as simple as possible and take it for what it is but have fun and fly around the field.”
It sound like this veteran led Ball State crew is doing a solid job of putting the last two weeks behind them. Spirits are high and the energy is flowing throughout the football facilities. The real meat of the football season is upon us and what better way to celebrate the MAC opener than with what should be a packed house at Scheumann Stadium for family weekend.
The Cardinals and Rockets kickoff at 2 p.m. this Saturday, follow along for more updates with @bsusportslink.