Any article about Ball State these days, by rule, has to mention a few things;
1). The new stadium looks fantastic
2). Nate Davis
3). Nate Davis
A few people got a glimpse of him two seasons ago, when Michigan thought they had a quick tune-up game before Ohio State. Michigan was never really in danger of losing, but the plucky Cardinals simply would not go away. (As it turned out, we found out how poorly Michigan was equipped to handle a spread offense against Appalachian State the next year).
As a Ball State senior, I was happy enough to keep it close, even if I am a diehard Michigan fan. (Side note: If school brass ever finds you rooting against your alma mater, they shouldn't grant you a degree. Ever). Nate Davis gave an outstanding performance as a spread offense QB against a very talented defense, and was even mentioned as a "dark horse candidate for Heisman in a few years." The endorsement was given by Lee Corso, and Davis still succeeded, which is a testament unto itself.
Last season, Ball State came within a dropped pass at the two yard line of beating Nebraska in Lincoln. Thus, the biggest upset in school history was foiled by a guy that goes to school for free to catch footballs (with my tuition money) letting one hit him in the facemask.
After my demand that he turn in his textbooks, I was able to take comfort in the knowledge that once again, Nate Davis had brought the entire offense up to his tremendous level. Another outstanding effort. Another case of a big school talent on offense marred by a very average small school defense.
I also made the trip to Toronto to take in the splendor of the International Bowl against Rutgers. The Rogers "Centre" was at half capacity, and looked like a garage with a green floor. Davis looked good, but Rutgers was able to put pressure on him, and he quickly lost composure, relying on his quick feet instead of patience in a crumbling pocket. Rutgers won the turnover battle, the game, and the much-coveted something-or-other trophy brought to you by UPS or whatever.
Mid Major football rules!! I have to say, it's tough to lose your first bowl game, and the Rutgers fans could be pretty annoying until you reminded them they still had to live in New Jersey.
As usual with an option QB, he's got to work on his accuracy this year. He's got the arm strength and ability to make huge plays, but he doesn't face much defensive pressure up front from MAC defenses (which is good), but his O-line is pretty overmatched when up against the big boys (which is not so good).
He should put up some good numbers, and hopefully get a little well-earned time on SportsCenter. He reminds me of an Omar Jacobs, which is great news if you're a fan of a MAC team, but not so great when you don't remember if Omar is on an NFL roster or bagging groceries.
Until then, however, time to ride the Nate Davis show to another bowl game. See you in Mobile, AL for the GMAC Bowl.