Daric Clemens is a senior journalism news major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.
Everything seemed to be headed in the right direction for Ball State Football, as they were the team to beat in the Mid-American Conference after completing a three-game winning streak. However, the tides have turned, as its hot streak has come to an end.
The hopes of a rather successful season are slipping away from the Cardinals. A team that was so high has hit the ground hard following a three-game losing streak, which knocked it out of reach of a MAC Championship bid — a game Ball State hasn’t been a part of since 2008.
The Cardinals' most-recent defeat to Central Michigan was the most upsetting, as they controlled the game almost all the way through, leading 41-24 at one point. But when it mattered most, the Chippewas snatched away the Cardinals’ optimism, snapping a losing streak.
Situations like this can destroy a team’s confidence toward the end of a season, as they failed to achieve a goal, but one objective still remains a possibility for Ball State. If it can win out, it will become bowl-eligible, and for a team that hasn’t competed in a bowl since 2013, this should be used as a driving force of motivation in its final two games.
However, from a fan standpoint, the way the backend of the season has unrolled so far has been completely disappointing.
As a student in my final year at Ball State, everything hasn’t been done with flying colors for the football team in the past three years, which led to me starting to lose interest in following the team consistently. However, I was brought back to being invested this season, as I was convinced by the way the team was playing together as a complete unit, and there was some added excitement to watching the games.
Everything seemed to be coming along, as the offense and defense were both jointly putting on balanced performances. There have been many highlights, such as the way junior running back Caleb Huntley has progressed into a 96.4 yards per game rusher and redshirt junior quarterback Drew Plitt tossing 20 touchdowns in 10 games. The defense has forced a decent amount of turnovers with a total of 12 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries so far.
There have definitely been bright spots that have made me excited for the way this season was headed, but the three-game losing streak has stalled the sudden thrill of this year’s team. The Cardinals find themselves with only four wins, just like last season when they finished with a 4-8 record, with arguably the best team in the MAC, Miami (Ohio), left on their schedule.
Nevertheless, there’s still some hope hanging by a thread that this team can flip the script and get back on the right track. The talent is there, and it has proven it has the ability to perform at a contending team level in conference play. I’m optimistic it will carry over in its final two games.