Coach Stan Parrish hopes Ball State University responds better to the finish line than they did to the starting gun.
Ball State (1-10) started the year slowly with a 20-10 loss to the University of North Texas that spiraled out of control into a nine-game losing streak. With only one more game left in 2009, Ball State is looking to finish strong at Western Michigan University on Tuesday night.
"We've got to get to the finish line at Western," Parrish said. "We've got to put a game plan together and go up there to try and beat Western."
With the offseason around the corner, many Cardinals are hoping to put this year's disappointments behind them with a victory.
"You always want to go out on a winning note," defensive end Robert Eddins said. "It helps the offseason, it gives you something to work for."
Western Michigan enters the game with a 5-6 record, needing one more win to become bowl eligible. It is very unlikely the Broncos would be invited to a bowl even with a win, but even the chance of a bowl game combined with senior day will provide enough motivation for them.
After a 35-3 loss to Central Michigan University last week, Ball State is looking for something to get it back on track.
"It will be their [Western's] last home game," Parrish said. "It'll be a psyche game. We have to get ours right. We walked out of that building [Wednesday] very disappointed and down."
After Dan LeFevour, the league's best quarterback, dissected the Cardinals' defense, they will have to be ready for Tim Hiller. The senior will likely be drafted this April and is second in the conference with 2,895 passing yards.
"He's a very capable thrower," Parrish said. "He's had some really good receivers there during his tenure, but they're retooling that group right now."
Sophomore Robert Arnheim leads the Broncos in receiving with 59.4 yards per game.
Ball State will also have to fight fatigue. The game will be the Cardinals third in 13 days. After the Central Michigan game, Parrish said he felt like his team had run out of gas.
Eddins said he didn't think the team was tired, but the schedule was difficult.
"It's rough, you do have your wears and tears," he said. "I don't think it has us tired to the point where we're not able to perform."
But Parrish planned a different style of practices this week to help fight the fatigue he saw.
"We've got to have creative practices," he said. "Going out there 2 1/2 hours at this point solves nothing. We have to give a real maximum effort."