It is easy for a college football fan to get excited when two quality teams square off against each other in an epic matchup. However, it is the true fanatic that is interested when two subpar squads are scheduled to play each other.
It will take a special person to enjoy the game today between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Ball State Cardinals, the two worst FBS teams in the state of Indiana, at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Four teams are not the largest sample size ever, but is clear that Ball State and Purdue are playing worse than Notre Dame and Indiana right now. Ball State is coming off a 2-10 season and has lost to an FCS school for the second year in a row. It was just of couple of weeks ago when the Fighting Irish defeated the Boilermakers 23-12.
There may be an argument that Purdue is better than Indiana because Purdue had the better record last season and won the Old Oaken Bucket. However, Indiana is undefeated this season, and the Hoosiers have looked more organized on offense than the Boilermakers.
Ball State head coach Stan Parrish is proof that bad things happen to good people. At age 62, Parrish, was given another chance to be a head coach at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, in just one year, Ball State has gone from starting a season 10-0 and being ranked 12th in the country to winning just two conference games and losing to teams like New Hampshire and Liberty.
Parrish may have rings on his fingers from being on the University of Michigan coaching staff in 1997 and being the quarterbacks coach for the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the biggest ring he has right now is around his neck from sweating so much trying to get Ball State back on track.
The 1-1 Cardinals have utilized a two-quarterback system so far this year. Freshman Keith Wenning has the higher completion percentage and efficiency rating and has also thrown the lone touchdown pass for Ball State. Junior Kelly Page has thrown one interception and nine more passes than Wenning.
Cardinal fans thought the team would get a lift when tailback MiQuale Lewis was granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA. However Lewis and his 3,405 career rushing yards are taking a backseat to sophomore Eric Williams. So far this year, Williams has 149 yards rushing and one touchdown on 30 carries.
On defense, safety Shawn Baker leads Ball State with 18 tackles and two interceptions.
Purdue's season started off on a sour note when leading rusher Ralph Bolden tore his ACL in the spring. To make matters worse, Keith Smith, last season's leading receiver in the Big Ten, is out for the rest of the year after being injured in the game against Western Illinois.
Even with Smith in the lineup, Purdue's offense has sputtered in its two contests so far this year. If the fans didn't know better, they would swear that Jim Colletto was back as the head coach.
Last season, Purdue averaged 6.82 yards per attempt and 11.26 yards per completion. In 2010, quarterback Robert Marve has averaged 5.14 yards per attempt and 7.24 yards per completion. To make matters worse, Marve has thrown three interceptions and just one touchdown pass this year.
The Boilermakers cannot throw the ball downfield with any consistency, and the running attack is searching for its identity without Bolden in the backfield. With that being said, both Dan Dierking and Al-Terek McBurse had strong performances last Saturday.
Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan played like an All-American last week, but with a restructured secondary, the Boilermakers are worse against the pass then they were last year.
On Saturday, the Cardinals will try to establish the run to eat up the clock and lower Purdue's possessions. Ball State hopes that Purdue will have to commit more bodies to stop the run and that mistakes in the secondary can lead to big plays through the air.
Coach Danny Hope would love to see a breakout performance from Marve. If not, the team may look offensively just like it did last week. Defensively speaking, rushing the passer and forcing third-and-long situations will keep Ball State stagnant on offense.
Purdue should defeat Ball State easily on Saturday, proving that the Cardinals are Indiana's worst FBS team. Since Big Ten schools enjoy playing for trophies, perhaps the loser of the game will receive a fart machine so the team can stink everywhere it goes.