Ball State football has had several ups and downs this season, and the team sits at 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the Mid-American Conference. One area the team has excelled at offensively is the low amount of penalties they give up. 

Head coach Pete Lembo attributes the low number to the high expectations he set for the team.

“If you set the standards and expectations and expect your guys to live up to those every day then you have a much better chance of going out there and not committing foolish turnovers, foolish penalties,” Lembo said.

Averaging only 3.8 per game on the season, the Cardinals are the third least penalized team per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The team is also tied for sixth place in Division-l football in total penalties with 38 and fewest penalty yards per game with 37. 

There have been few penalties for the Cardinals this season, but when they happen, it is at costly times.

It has been a down year for the Cardinals as this marks the team's second straight season without a bowl appearance. Mental focus is something Lembo believes the team can be proud of coming out of the season.

“That's a lifestyle, that's what I always say about that,” Lembo said. “Despite a tough year, to be able to look and say we are... one of the best in the country in being least penalized is something to take pride in.”

Lembo's team is playing clean football. In addition to the low penalty numbers, the Cardinals are ranked 28th in the country in turnover margin with +5. Though these are common indicators of a winning team, they have struggled to put it all together during games to come away with wins.

The coaching staff's discipline reaches far beyond the goal posts and into the classrooms, which is part of the reason the players make few mental mistakes.

“If you're not disciplining guys for being late or missing class... then it happens more and it happens more and, before you know it, it's affecting your team off the field, it's affecting your team on the field,” Lembo said.

Coming off of a buy week, Ball State will need to take advantage of the extra preparation and clean play as they travel to Athens, Ohio to take on the 6-4 Ohio Bobcats.