The Ball State Cardinals are the best NCAA football team in the state of Indiana.
Bold declaration? Absolutely. But the possibility of that statement being true at the end of the 2013-14 college football season is more realistic than most would believe.
The Cardinals, a team coming off of a 9-3 record in 2012-2013, immensely improved over the course of last season. Just 6-6 the previous year, head coach Pete Lembo was coming into his second full year on the job. Lembo led the Cardinals to their first bowl appearance since 2008.
A 9-3 record going into last year's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl versus the University of Central Florida was no easy slice of pie.
Ball State went up against five ranked teams last season, including teams such as No. 7 Clemson and BCS participant Northern Illinois. The Cardinals' three losses last year were all to Top 25 teams—two of those loses coming in the final minutes of the fourth quarter (Kent State and Northern Illinois).
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning, entering his fourth season starting for the cardinal and white, is a tremendous leader and a much better QB than this country acknowledges.
Wenning's completion percentage last season was ranked 26th in the country at 65.4 percent, putting him ahead of big time QBs such as Aaron Murray, Collin Klein, Matt Barkley and Braxton Miller.
Among qualified QBs, Wenning's 3,095 yards passing was also ahead of Alabama and national champion QB AJ McCarron. Wenning's cannon arm and pinpoint accuracy was put on display in Week 4 versus former Big East foe USF, when the senior rifled a 19-yard, go-ahead touchdown to wide receiver Willie Snead IV with 1:02 to go in the fourth quarter, sealing the win.
With Notre Dame's tumultuous offseason of losing starting QB Everett Golson as well as Indiana and Purdue struggling to scratch the surface, folks and students in Muncie know: If there was ever a time for Ball State to once again be the best college football team in the state of Indiana, this is it.