For the first time since 2010, the Ball State football team won’t be bowl eligible.

Teams need a minimum of six wins to be bowl eligible. After Ball State’s loss to Massachusetts, the team sits with just three wins and only two games remaining.

Even six wins doesn’t guarantee a bowl berth. In 2011, Ball State went 6-6, but the bowl selection committee didn’t call the team’s name.

Record - Last 5 Season

Year Overall MAC Bowl
2010-11 4-8 3-5 None
2011-12 6-6 4-4 None
2012-13 9-4 6-2 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
2013-14 10-3 7-1 GoDaddy Bowl
2014-15* 3-7 2-4 None

The football team has two games remaining this season

“Nobody is happy when you aren’t getting the results you want. Nobody is happy when you’re losing a bunch of close games,” Cardinals head coach Pete Lembo said.

Ball State started its 2014 season slow, going 1-5 through six games. Feeling a sense of urgency, redshirt freshman Jack Milas was inserted as the new starting quarterback and the offense was sparked. After losing a shootout to Western Michigan, Ball State reeled off wins against Central Michigan and Akron, before hitting a wall offensively and dropping the previous two games.

Losses against Iowa and Western Michigan were particularly difficult for the team, as they were both by less than one touchdown and could have swung the momentum of the season in a different direction.

Ball State also lost to Indiana State by just seven, but it wouldn’t have mattered overall if it had won. FBS teams like Ball State are only allowed to count one victory against an FCS team in their overall record, and since the Cardinals already beat FCS Colgate in the season opener, the game against FCS Indiana State wouldn’t have counted if Ball State had won.

The result is both the team staying home for the winter and a noticeable drop in attendance throughout the season.

“I think folks here are pretty realistic, and we’ve had a challenging year,” Lembo said. “We’ve had a lot of new faces in the lineup, and I think an awful lot of people have stayed the course with us.”

Ball State has seen more than a handful of new starters on both offense and defense, but the defense has been hit particularly hard. Michael Ayers, Darnell Smith and Tyree Holder are the only players on defense who have started every game. Overall, Ball State has had 22 different players start on defense.

Free safety Dedrick Cromartie has been one of the players thatinjuries impacted the most. A true freshman, he was thrust into the starting role initially against Central Michigan and will start his fourth game of the season against Eastern Michigan. During the offseason, Lembo considered redshirting him, but Cromartie ended up contributing on special teams initially until injuries made him a starter.

In his nine appearances, he has 26 tackles and two interceptions.

“With the situation we’re in, we needed guys to step up,” Cromartie said. “I’ve been locked in and focused on doing my job. It’s been a hard season but we’re trying to make the best of it.”

The Cardinals can finish with a maximum of five wins. The last time they finished with less than six was 2010, when Ball State finished 4-8.