San Jose State football: What to know about Ball State, surprise Arizona Bowl opponent

Only one game stands between San Jose State and a perfect season: The Spartans will face Ball State in the Arizona Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
The Spartans earned their spot in the year-end bowl game by beating Boise State 34-20 in the Mountain West championship game Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.
This will be San Jose State’s first bowl appearance since 2015, when the Spartans beat Georgia State 27-16 in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.
Ball State’s appearance in the Arizona Bowl comes as a bit of a shocker, upsetting previously undefeated No. 23 Buffalo 38-28 in the Mid-American Conference championship game to win its first conference crown since 1996.
Ball State (6-1 overall, 5-1 MAC), like San Jose State (7-0), is experiencing success for the first time in several years, now in the fifth year of head coach Mike Neu’s tenure. The Cardinals’ last winning season came in 2013 under Pete Lembo, who led the Cardinals to a 10-3 record and a bowl appearance.
The Cardinals’ calling card is the run game. Ball State ran the ball more than any team in the Mid-American Conference, averaging 45 rushing attempts per game.
The Cardinals will be without star running back Caleb Huntley, who opted out of Friday’s MAC title game to prepare for the NFL Draft. In three games this season, Huntley had 440 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
With Huntley gone, Tye Evans and Will Jones will receive the lion’s share of touches on the ground. Ball State also likes to incorporate receiver Justin Hall, who averages 7.7 yards per carry, into its run offense. Evans picked up 94 yards on 18 carries in Friday’s MAC title game.
Ball State compliments its run game with quarterback Drew Plitt, who carried the load for the Cardinals against Buffalo. Plitt threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, all in the first half. After halftime, though, the Cardinals offense stalled, scoring just a first-possession field goal before finishing with seven empty drives (six punts, one interception).
Plitt ranks third in the Mid-American Conference in completion percentage (65.8) and passing yards per game (278.1). Despite his high completion percentage, Plitt is tied for the conference lead in interceptions (6) and has thrown a pick in all but one game this season.
The Spartans, who rank 13th nationally in points allowed per game, should be up for the task. In the Mountain West title game, San Jose State held Boise State, the Mountain West’s most potent offense, to just 20 points. Even more shocking was that the Spartans held the Broncos to just 12 rushing yards.

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— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 19, 2020

On defense, Ball State is headlined by linebacker Brandon Martin, the co-defensive player of the year who led the conference with 85 tackles. The Cardinals also feature two other conference first-teamers in outside linebacker Anthony Ekpe and defensive back Bryce Cosby.
But they have allowed the ninth-most passing yards per game in the in the nation. After Nick Starkel’s 453-yard performance Saturday afternoon, the Spartans could look to exploit the Cardinals through the air.
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Saturday night, Brennan mentioned that the Spartans will be returning to the Bay Area, which will be their first time back home since early December. The coach also mentioned that his players will have the opportunity to spend Christmas with their families after not seeing them in months.
San Jose State left Santa Clara County prior to its game against Hawaii when the county temporarily banned contact sports until Dec 21., a restriction that has since been extended until at least Jan. 8. The Spartans had been nomads for the last three weeks, spending one week in Honolulu and the last two in Las Vegas.
Brennan said San Jose State is still figuring out travel logistics.

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Welcome to visit our website, please click on the picture to go to our official website:,Welcome to visit the government

Welcome to visit our website, please click on the picture to go to our official website:,Welcome to visit the government