Ball State travels light to GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State brings 10,000 fans to GoDaddy
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (SPORTS) - The Ball State sports fan club got an update this week that its high flying Cardinals actually were favored to win the GoDaddy Bowl against Arkansas State on Sunday.
BSU football coach Pete Lembo talked about the strength of nationally recognized quarterback Keith Wenning who holds the school record for most touchdown passes at 91. And with 3,933 passing yards. fans like Mutual Bank President Dave Hetter thinks that high powered offense can weather a bigger, stronger defense from the Red Wolves who has All-American linebacker Qushaun Lee who posted double figure tackles in the last seven games.
The breakfast and lunch gatherings at the Alumni Center had less than 100 people at each stop, and Bill Scholl, athletic director, confirmed only 1,500 fans already had tickets to attend the Sunday bowl game in Mobile, Ala. That's less than the 2,000 fans that went to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla. last year where Ball State lost to Central Florida.
Jerry Scott, associate athletic director at Arkansas State, said more than 10,000 fans planned to attend the third game Arkansas State played at GoDaddy. The Red Wolves won their first bowl game last year, beating Kent State, and lost in 2011 to Northern Illinois.
Scott said the school's regional location and reputation in the Sun Belt Conference with three consecutive victories made Arkansas State a natural for the gulf coast bowl. And the school markets the bowl game to the entire state.
Scholl and his athletic department marketed the bowl game to their fan base and alumni, but did little outside of that. Notre Dame was the other Indiana school to play in a bowl game and beat Rutgers 29-16 in the Pinstrip Bowl last week.
Ball State has never traveled very well in recent years with a decline in fans, especially with basketball. The current basketball team has lost seven straight games and only about 2,600 people showed up for the last home game.
Football has seen an average of 6,000 fans and up to 11,000 for homecoming. Scholl talked with alumni this week about ways to get more fans in the stands as he expressed confidence about Ball State winning on Sunday.
Most betting lines have Ball State at least by five or nine points whether it is Don Best's line from Las Vegas or Jeff Sagarin ratings in Bloomington. Scholl said if he was a betting man, his money would be on Ball State.
Arkansas State football coach John Thompson acknowledged Ball State was a high scoring team with Wenning at the helm, but Arkansas State had a veteran quarterback, Adam Kennedy, who came last year from Utah State and has 2,349 yards with 11 touchdowns.
At Kennedy's side, is All-American wide receiver J.D. McKissic who holds the school record with 176 career receptions. On special teams, McKissic has a 30 yard average kickoff return.
Thompson said the school won it's first bowl game last year while Ball State has never won a bowl game. And Arkansas State plays bigger teams like national champion contender Auburn that beat the Red Wolves 38-9 last September. The Rd Wolves did beat Georgia State 35-33 in November.