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Quarterback Drew Plitt leads the Ball State Cardinals on CBS New Years Eve December 31 | 12pm MST/2pm EST

Drew Plitt played football at Loveland High School and led the 2013 Tigers to a Division II state title.

Offerpad Arizona Bowl
Ball State (6-1, 5-1 MAC) vs. No. 19 San Jose State (7-0, 6-0 MWC)
Thursday, Dec. 31 (12:12 p.m. MT/2:12 ET kickoff)
Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.)
Watch: CBS | Listen:104.1 WLBC/1430 WXNT (Indy)
Social: @BallStateFB@BallStateSports, #ChirpChirp, #WeFly, #DOB, #MACtion
Bowl Notes:Ball State (PDF) | San Jose State (PDF)
Bowl Week Media:Neu | Martin



The Ball State football team’s historical checklist for 2020 is nearly complete.

Win the MAC West Division for the first time since 2008? Check.

Win the overall MAC championship for the first time since 1996? Check.

It had been a while, but both of those things has been accomplished before. This last one, the final box, has not. A bowl victory.

For a team that has already achieved so much in this unique year, a win over No. 19 San Jose State in Thursday’s Offerpad Arizona Bowl would further cement its legacy in Ball State annals.

“It’s monumental for us,” senior cornerback Antonio Phillips said. “But we’ve been preparing for every game like it’s a championship game all year.”

All this in a season that looked like it might not happen. The MAC was the first FBS conference to postpone its football season because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the last to announce its return.

When the Cardinals finally took the field on Nov. 4, they were dealt an early blow, falling in the final seconds at rival Miami (Ohio). But the loss only galvanized the veteran team more. The Cardinals were undeterred and kept their sights fixed on the goal of a MAC championship.

Doing it on the ground at times and through the air at times all while getting tougher and tougher on defense each week, Ball State rattled off one win after another — six in all — culminating with their 38-28 victory over undefeated No. 23 Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game. Now, on the final day of 2020, BSU will look to check that final box.

“We were on a mission to get ourselves to Detroit, and that was such a great feeling when that clock hit zero,” head coach Mike Neu said. “To have that celebration with our team in the locker room was special. We’ve worked hard for this … Our next goal that lies ahead is to win the first bowl game in the history of our program.”

Ball State isn’t hiding from that fact or from being an underdog again this week against the ranked Spartans. It’s a role the team has embraced all season long since it was picked to finish fourth of six teams in the MAC West Division.

Fueled by that, by how close they were last year and by a brotherhood of togetherness, the 2020 Cardinals are champions and are still looking for more. This bowl trip to Arizona is both a reward and an opportunity, and they are not taking it for granted.

“Last year we were at home watching people play bowl games, we were at home watching conference championships,” running back Tye Evans said. “This was the year of, ‘Hey, we’re not doing that anymore. We don’t want to go home early and sit and watch people play football. We want to continue to play football as long as we can.'”

As long as they can is New Year’s Eve, one way or another. Might as well write a little more history.


More Background: Loveland’s Drew Plitt: MAC Champion



Prep for the 2 p.m. ET / Noon MST kickoff by checking out some of the best stories of the year about the Ball State Cardinals.

LATEST STORIES ABOUT BALL STATE FOOTBALL:

Nick Lawler explores the rise of Drew Plitt and his ability to take care of business down the stretch. (Ball State Sports Link)

As Chris Vannini writes in The Athletic, the lesson learned in Ball State’s success is patience. (For subscribers)

This Arizona Bowl matchup is a historic one, says Bud Geracie of the Mercury News.

‘He finds a way.’ Jordan Guskey of the Muncie Star-Press tells us about the man with the plan for Ball State.

USA Today says the Arizona Bowl with Ball State will be the 5th-best bowl to watch

Here’s a one-stop shop for the Arizona Bowl from College Football News.

Donnie Harmon of Ball State Sports Link breaks down how Plitt’s performance has Cardinals headed to Arizona.

Ian Hansen of the Ball State Daily News talks about the resilience of the Cardinals.

Jordan Guskey has a primer on how the Cardinals got to Arizona.

HIGH SCHOOL: Earned three letters from coach Fred Cranford at Loveland High … team captain and honorable mention all-district as a senior … helped the Tigers win the 2013 state title … owns the school record for career passing touchdowns (42) … completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for more than 1,400 yards and 15 scores as a senior … also ran for three touchdowns in 2015 … two-time all-conference pick … team captain and MVP for the basketball team as well … first team all-conference as a junior … a member of the National Honor Society.
 
PERSONAL: Son of Steve and Julie Plitt … born Jan. 9, 1998 … one sister and one brother … his father played baseball at Xavier, while his mother was on the Musketeers’ volleyball team … his brother, Bryce, also played baseball at Xavier … his sister, Marie, is a member of the Ball State volleyball team … graduated with a 3.586 cumulative GPA following the 2019 fall semester … full name is Steven Andrew Plitt.

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