This is pretty much the only way Ford Field gets to host a championship football game. The Chirpin' Birds of Ball State will try to stay undefeated — again — against the blue-colored Bulls of the University At Buffalo. The winner gets to move on to play an important bowl game ... in the SAME FOOTBALL STADIUM! Against a really mediocre Big Ten team! America's automakers are petitioning Congress for you to follow along after the jump.
* * * * *
11:22 — Much like their in-state brethren, UB students can now Photoshop "Ball State 12-1" t-shirts.
Okay, that's too bad for Ball State, but Buffalo ripped the heartwarming storyline from the vena cava of SportsCenter's teleprompter and made it their own. That's how it's done in the MAC. Way to go, Bulls.
And way to go, me. I just did three MAC football games in a row and nobody noticed. Thanks everyone!
11:20 — Turner Gill, what do you think? "Speechless ... ... ... speechless." Rob Stone asks a pressing follow-up question and gets less silence.
11:20 — Gatorade big gulps for everyone.
11:19 — Finish the game off, defense. You basically got half the points anyway. An interception in the endzone puts the inevitable dagger in the breast of the Cardinals. That's a bird part, right?
11:16 — UB's mantra before the game: "Kill the giant and the dark one, leave the third for questioning."
11:13 — Starks ends up scoring. THAT's how you pour it on. Actually, this is an acceptable answer to pouring it on:
11:11 — James Starks runs the sucker almost into the endzone. They'll get the lackadaisical goal-line formation. "Don't want us to score? 'Scoo with me. Want us to score? Fine with us."
11:08 — Well, that onside attempt will basically put Ball State's comeback hopes into a catatonic coma. Buffalo ball.
11:06 — Continuing with the Christopher Guest motif, the lead is now:
11:03 — Ball State's not going for the field goal, which they need at least that to erase the 18-point deficit. Naw, they'll go for it on 4th and 4 and just end this game as soon as possi... oh, a touchdown. Well, that works too. Davis finds Louis Johnson for 90% of the work, and Johnson wiggles free of a BlueBull defender for the other 10%.
10:56 — And now for another Naaman Roosevelt-Christopher Guest parallel. "Well, it's like, how many babies fit the tire? You know, that old joke." Actually that has nothing to do with Naaman Roosevelt's third touchdown catch, but then again Waiting For Guffman isn't very relatable to anything in life. Suddenly it's a goddamn blowout.
10:55 — Tuffy has tapped into Turner Gill's playbook for Buffalo, and is kind enough to share it with me:
10:50 — You're ... you're kidding me. Another fumble? UB now has the ball in amazing field position. But don't fret. They're not fumbles. They're:
10:49 — Spielman insists that Ball State can take advantage because the defense is tired. Just as a UB defender stuffs the wideout just short of the first down. Yeah. He seems winded.
10:45 — Thermilus fails to make the 1st down, but doesn't fail to make a great name for a Roman Empire plumbing company.
10:42 — Well, slap me silly. The Cardinals go for it on 4th and 7 on the 38-yard line. Surely he'll make something happen! He smartly avoids the throw and finds the sack. Big momentum pendulum-type swing for the Buffalo Bulls.
10:40 — Chris Spielman is saying Ball State, 11 points down, has a little bit of an advantage right now. Much like when William Wallace's guys were winning when they were getting fucking SHOT WITH ARROWS.
"Hold ... HOLD ... HOLD!!!"
10:39 — BCS conferences are now called AQ conferences? When was this?
10:33 — Ball State has the ball back, and to their credit snapped it correctly to end the quarter.
10:28 — I wasn't aware I had DVR on my cable box, but there it is. Freak fumble recovery turns Buffalo's way, leads to long recovery touchdown. Sign in the stands: "ESPN ♥ UB." Well, yes. Now.
10:26 — Incompletion? No sweat. Let's just run to the first down. Nate Davis, you sly walrus you.
10:23 — Nate Davis gets pressured, so he throws it away ... into the hands of Briggs Orsbon for a long 1st down play. OR WAS IT ACTUALLY THROWN AWAY? They're reviewing to see if it touched the ground. And yes, it was just a smelly incomplete pass. Way to throw it horribly, Nate Davis. No NFL for you.
10:21 — Rob Stone gets an interview with Rick Chryst and lets him off the hook on blowing a Ball State-Boise State matchup. He says he's all about the best game possible. He sure is! He wants Notre Dame to come in. He sure has an eyeball for quality opponents!
10:19 — A list of all bowl eligible teams. Bowling Green is 6-6, and therefore bowl eligible. You'd think!
10:13 — Nate Davis is creatin'. He's improvisin'. He's jumpin'. He's ... POP. A helmet-to-football collision spins this game around like a dreidel, because, see, Hanukkah is sometime this month. Buffalo's Mike Newton, the worst tasting cookie in history, returns the magic rock about 95 yards or so for the gravity-reversing touchdown. Finally, ESPN has a highlight they can show.
10:11 — Senior Citizen Card Game Update:
10:09 — MiQuale runs to the pylon, but is spotted at the one. Perhaps if he was named MiQuayle, his silent "e" would have extended him far enough to score the six.
10:08 — By the way, "Willy" is a euphemism for male genitals.
10:07 — Willy slips and Willy drops his ball to the ground. The Cardinals fall on Willy's ball.
10:06 — Chris Spielman just channeled 1/3 of Yoda's strength. "Trust your training, young man!" No, that was a perfectly ordered sentence. Never mind.
10:05 — David Letterbettis is from Balltroit.
10:04 — Wait. Detroit has an outdoor skating rink? Did someone get a promotion after that idea?
9:59 — All this talk of minority candidates made me forget that Ball State had the football and was moving it in a positive direction such that MiQuale Lewis was able to feather his way into the end zone. Feather. Quale. Bird.
9:55 — Sean McDonough now advocates the Rooney Rule for NCAA schools, because Sylvester Croom and Tyrone Willingham were both horrible at their professions. I can really see college football implementing something like this, because they are known for embracing radical concepts like playoffs and salaries.
9:53 — "Nuggnuts." Hmm. Clearly I haven't done enough to stop this word from spreading.
9:51 — Harlan Pepper, would you stop Naaman nuts? Naaman Roosevelt scampers down the sideline like a white, all natural white, macadamia nut for the go-ahead touchdown.
9:50 — And now for a fourth down play. They're on the Ballsy 44-yard line ... yep, they snuck through the line. Plus, the Cardinals were offsides. Also, the referees like Buffalo. Plus, Mike Brey's son. Need any other reasons? Morton Kondracke!
9:47 — James Starks eludes three robin-sized birds for something like a 20-yard gain. [the sound a bull makes]
9:45 — Buffalo starts with the ball. In case you're confused, Ball State is the team you want to win. Buffalo is the team you really want to win.
9:44 — And we're back, $11,600 in fake assets later.
Video Flash Game
Online Plinko. You're so welcome.
9:23 — That's the deepest touchback I've ever seen in my life ... oh, they were trying for the field goal. That gives Ball State the halftime lead.
9:21 — Well, they made it into reasonable field goal position. Which means it's time to punt the ball.
9:17 — No, don't use your three timeouts to try and get into field goal position. Just run draws and screen passes. There you go.
9:16 — A walk is as good as a hit, and a fumble is just as good as a punt, only better. The Cardinals have a chance to tweet the ball back the other way.
9:16 — Hey, it might not end up tied. Willy's finding some soft, cancerous holes in the Ball State prevent and moving the ball toward midfield. There's about a minute left.
9:13 — 4th down and 7. You're not in field goal range. Do you: a) punt the ball and not risk scoring points and taking the lead.
9:09 — Natedavisbenroethlisbergerchadpennington. Etymology: Bristolian. Can you use it in a sentence? "My fantasy team is so awesome, I just drafted Natedavisbenroethlisbergerchadpennington and Willismcgaheeclintonportisdevinhester."
9:08 — The ESPN booth was given concessions in little cardboard trays. Steak and fries? And yet they could have just ordered fried chicken so easily.
9:04 — Now that was a solid punt. Knocked the Ball State returner flat on his ass. That's the kind of punt that motivates a team to ... punt better.
9:02 — You're fucking kidding me. Chris Spielman asks Mike Brey what things in football and basketball are the same. What's ... I ... the ... [brain melts]
9:00 — An interview with ... Notre Dame basketball Mike Brey. That one threw me for a loop. (The connection is that his son Kyle is a tight end for Buffalo.) Too bad they didn't ask him who has more heart: Kyle Brey or Luke Harangody?
8:56 — MiQuale? Man!
8:53 — Onomatopoeic wideout Daniel Ifft gets his helmet rung by a Buffalo defender's helmet, and the line will move 15 yards toward undefeatedness.
8:51 — Ah, there's the Ball State offense that's able to convert on 3rd and short. It didn't go to Auburn quite yet.
8:47 — Anything you can punt I can punt better, I can punt anything better than you. (No you can't, yes you can, et cetera.)
8:46 — Nobody can catch Willy. Willy's just hanging out there outside the pocket, and nobody wants to touch him. He finally throws it out of bounds. Willy.
8:43 — Brandon Thermilus runs for 15 yards. "Thermilus" seems like one of those unabridged dictionary words that home-schooled prodigies know how to spell.
8:42 — Things Ball State has in common with Florida, Alabama, Boise State, and Oklahoma: amount of time in which they trailed. Also: a couple of those teams have variants of the color red on their jersey. That's about it.
8:41 — So that wasn't a fair catch either. The returner half-assed it, or was a big white baby for not wanting to get tackled. Nice to see the MAC was able to find XFL referees on such short notice.
8:40 — Producer to camerman: "Look, we can't pan the stands. Nobody's there. Just ... just shoot the ceiling or something. It's remotely interesting."
Sumbitch. The first quarter ends with QualeMan getting snuffled up well behind the line of scrimmage on a 3rd and 1 toss. UB as surprised as IB.
8:35 — MiQuale Lewis rushes for several yards. "He's built like a Volkswagen Bug." DUDE, NO FOREIGN CAR METAPHORS IN DETROIT PLEASE.
8:34 — BREAKING NEWS. Greg Maddux is retiring? So young? Guess they ran out of California teams he would accept trades to.
8:31 — Naaman R. Oosevelt. Sounds like a typical bastard. He catches a first and goal-setting-up ball-type-thing, then runs the fade route and collects the first points of the game.
8:29 — Back off, punters. You've had your fun. A goofy center-quarterback exchange results in Nate Davis taking a football to the groin!
Hans Moleman Raphael Akobundu makes the recovery.
8:26 — We're 11 minutes in. It's a punt-off!
8:24 — "They had a seven year stretch where they won just 10 games." Personally I think seven wins in five years is more depressing, because you get to throw in a monster three-win season into the stat.
8:23 — Buffalo fans got to the stadium three minutes before kickoff? If you remember, last week Western Michigan had bus problems getting to their game against Ball State. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Cardinals' opponents are having bad luck with mass transit. Don't look into it at all.
8:19 — The high flying Ball State offense is in full display. Three and out, so share the ball, Brady Hoke. Buffalo wants it now.
8:18 — Life imitates Detroit: someone briefly stole my headline and put my live blog on cinder blocks. A claim has already been filed.
8:15 — UB punts, Ball State goes for a return but the referees decide he probably called a fair catch and blows it dead. The analyst says the fair catch is waved off if the ball bounces on the ground. He's confused. I'm confused. The crowd falls deathly silen... oh.
8:14 — Oh, there are the fans. All bunched into three sections. At halftime they'll re-enact the famous Schoolhouse Rock music video "Elbow Room."
8:13 — Naaman Roosevelt gets his first catch. NAAMAN is also what you have in your hand anytime you lose at Scrabble©.
8:09 — James Starks gets the first touch for Buffalo. He's like John Starks, except that his best dunk was simultaneously over Ulysses S. Grant and Jordin Sparks.
8:05 — We have love for Dante Love, and davis (?) for Nate Davis. But the drive ends a bit farther ahead of where Lions drives end, and Chris Miller's punt pins the Bulls rather far back. Drew Willy will take a bus to Dearborn to begin the offensive series.
8:02 — Oh, my. I should be live blogging this one from the end zone seats. I'd be in the front row. When a PAT destroys my MacBook, you'll think it was a Gawker technical error. It'd be hilarious!
7:59 — ESPN's Rob Stone interviews Ball State coach and Jeff Garlin fan club treasurer Brady Hoke near the tunnel. Behind him are about eight fans in seats. I'm not yet convinced this is a Detroit Lions game in drag.
7:58 — The booth guys: Nate Davis can be an NFL player. So can Buffalo's Drew Willy. So can you!
Both teams are already going to bowl games. (Note: let the phrase "Buffalo is already guaranteed a bowl game" stew in your head and see if it explodes in the next 60 seconds.) So all that's really at stake in this game is to see if Ball State become the first 13-0 team to play in the Motor City Bowl. Marshall played in the Motor City Bowl with an unblemished 12-0 record, and kicked some Mormon rump with a 21-3 rout of BYU.
Buffalo might as well lose this game, because a win will only increase the chance that Turner Gill leaves and coaches somewhere else. Likewise, Brady Hoke winning this game might raise the chance other schools try and pry him away from Muncie, lest he becomes the new token fact MAC coach, replacing Tom Amstutz, and gets fired in six years.
Record In Deadspin Live Blogs
Ball State: 2-0
Buffalo: 0-1. Oh, wait, that's the Bills. The Bulls are live blog (and winning record) virgins.
Fun Fact Trivia Segment Inspired By Dash's Live Blog
Teams from Indiana and New York are playing tonight. When was the last year a MAC football championship didn't feature at least one team from the state of Ohio?
Tonight's Bingo Card