Georgia football opponent this week is the Ball State Cardinals. Who are the Cardinals? Why do we need to care? I cannot answer the second question, but we can get some info about the Cardinals.
Ball State University is located in Muncie, Indiana. For those curious about Indiana’s geography, Muncie is located in the eastern part of the state and only an hour away from Indianapolis. The school was founded in 1918, and the football team started playing in 1924.
Ball State is in the MAC conference. The MAC, known for MAC-tion, where toward the end of the season, the conference has games Monday-Saturday. It is beautiful to see a college football game on a Tuesday night when the temperatures are below freezing and snowing everywhere. Ball State recently won the MAC in 2020 and has won the conference 11 times.
Ball State has had several NFL talent come through its program. The Cardinals’ most famous player is probably Willie Snead IV, who is still playing in the NFL for the 49ers. Currently, the Cardinals are coached by Mike Neu, a former QB for the Cardinals in the early ’90s and is in his 7th season. Neu was also a pro scout for the New Orleans Saints from 09-11 and was the quarterback coach of the Saints in 2014-2015. Neu coached Drew Brees, so it is safe to say he knows how to handle the position. Neu was also the MVP of the MAC in 1993.
The Cardinals started their season at another SEC school, Kentucky. Ball State went on to lose 44-14. However, the score is slightly misleading. In the first quarter, Ball State was going toe-to-toe with the Wildcats until a flurry of turnovers crippled their hopes in the second quarter.
A familiar face leads the Cardinals offense to the Dawgs. Marquez Cooper, who played at Kent State last season, is now the feature back at Ball State. Smart said that the Georgia defense has a ton of respect for Copper because of how tough of a runner he is and how well he played against the Dawgs. Cooper carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards against a solid Georgia defense in 2022.
At the quarterback position last week, the Cardinals played three guys. Layne Hatcher, Kiael Kelly, and Kadin Semonza. Semonza was put in the second half and impressed his coaches. So, for now, no one is sure who will be the starting QB for Ball State.
Georgia football is favored in the game and is a 42-point favorite against the Cardinals. Georgia coach Kirby Smart said that he believes Ball State is a really good football team, and they are tough. Neu, the Ball State coach, said Georgia is a really good team, and they do not have any weaknesses. Both coaches are having a compliment competition, and it is neck and neck.
Both teams are unfamiliar with each other and the way they play. Georgia should go out there and roll over Ball State. But there is something about MAC teams where they play tough.
Georgia was supposed to go to Norman this week and play Oklahoma. In some ways, I wish Georgia was playing Oklahoma this week. It would be an exciting match-up. But given how clunky the offense looked last week, I’ll take a noon game against Ball State.
But hey, I remember thinking Georgia was going to drum Kent State last year, and I walked out of Sanford Stadium admiring the effort and toughness Kent State played with. Not many teams, and for that matter SEC teams, played Georgia with that level of grit. So, who is to say Ball State does not do the same against the Dawgs?