Despite his program having won each of its past two meetings against Indiana, Ball State football coach Pete Lembo still doesn’t see his team as the expected winner as the two squads prepare to battle tonight at 8 p.m. in Bloomington (Big Ten Network).
“This is a game, that very much is one where we are going to go into as an underdog,” Lembo said. “And fortunately, I think that our guys will be excited about that and that role and that opportunity.”
The Hoosier Nation may not see the Cardinals (1-1) as an “underdog,” but Las Vegas does (Indiana is giving 2 ½ points), and the second-year Cardinal coach listed a number of reasons why that is the case.
“This one is going to be a big challenge for us,” Lembo said. “Indiana is a program that commits a lot of resources to football. They spend as much on football as we do almost on our entire athletic department here at Ball State.”
That off the field commitment by Indiana (2-0) also pays off on the field according to Lembo and that very well could come into play tonight.
“Indiana is able to recruit a high level of student athlete with their facilities and their affiliation with the Big Ten,” Lembo said.
The Cardinals are one of the better known football programs to battle Indiana in recent years outside of the Hoosiers’ Big Ten schedule.
After playing games with the likes of South Carolina State, North Texas State, Towson, and UMass, Hoosier fans might enjoy seeing a more credible Midwest football program compete at Memorial Stadium. However, Lembo understands what Indiana is doing from a scheduling standpoint.
“They’ve really been smart in scheduling to help them build a program and build confidence,” Lembo said. “This year, their four out-of-conference games there are no BCS-level opponents and obviously they are off to a very good start.”
But after serving as a head coach for a dozen years, Lembo understands that scheduling, weight facilities, and financial resources take a backseat following the opening kickoff and winning comes down to blocking, tackling and making plays.
“This is a football game and not an economics class,” Lembo explained. “So we’ll go down there, try to put our best foot forward, and try to pull of the upset.”