The date was September 3, 2011. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL Colts, was only three years old, and it was a natural for the Ball State and Indiana University football teams to hook up there in front of an Indianapolis-based crowd.
That game, which was the first NCAA FBS game played at Lucas Oil Stadium, proved to be a happy one for the Cardinals, who came away with a 27-20 win in front of more than 40,000 fans.
And as the Cardinals and Hoosiers prepare for “Lucas Oil Stadium, Part II” to open their respective seasons on Saturday, August 31, former Cardinals’ quarterback Keith Wenning, ’14, recalled the excitement of that day.
Only a sophomore, Wenning led Ball State that day by throwing for 173 yards and two touchdowns and added another touchdown on the ground while rushing for 61 total yards. He still holds several Ball State records, including career passing touchdowns (92) and was the first player in Ball State history to pass for more than 10,000 yards in career. He finished with 11,402 career yards at the end of the 2013 season.
“As I look back on the game, it was probably my best college football memory, he said. “It was a game the entire team marked on their calendars from the moment they decided to attend Ball State, and I imagine it’s the very same for the current team.”
Fast-forward to present
“I’ll always remember the ‘butterflies’ each and every player had in their stomachs running through the tunnel and out on the field,” said Wenning. “And what made it even better for us was to see the huge crowd, people tail-gaiting, and the large number of Ball State students and fans there to support us. As much as anything, that support pulled us through.”
Fast-forward to the present, and Ball State head football coach Mike Neu says the very same thing.
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“When we go on recruiting trips, we make a point to emphasize the Lucas Oil Stadium game against IU, and every player on our roster has been pointing to the game from the time they committed to come to Muncie,” he said. “Playing IU is great motivation in and of itself. But the players and coaches know the best support we can have is seeing our students and fans at Lucas Oil. That’s what really gets us going.”
Shawn Sullivan, associate athletic director of marketing and fan engagement, said purchasing one of the various season ticket plans is the best way to get the best prices and seat selection for the Lucas Oil Stadium game.
“We want our fans to know we have a season ticket package to fit every need, and they all include the IU game on August 31,” he said. “But for those looking for just a single game ticket for the Lucas Oil game, those are available now.”