Andy Lyons/Getty Images; Steve Conner/Icon SMI
What could have been the most intriguing non-BCS game on the bowl schedule won't likely happen.
Ball State has passed on an opportunity to play Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl, a game that, if the Fighting Lettermans beat Buffalo for the MAC crown, would be the only bowl game to feature two unbeatens.
Instead, the Cardinals are likely to go to either the GMAC Bowl or the Motor City Bowl, while the Broncos now seem Poinsettia Bowl-bound. Nevada and Maryland will likely play in the Humanitarian.
So why would Ball State balk on a game that's sure to draw tons of attention? MAC commissioner Rick Chryst told the Idaho Statesman. "I think the importance of our own bowl relationships and the proximity of those games for Ball State probably were the facts that keep Ball State in our bowl mix for this season."
Staying close to its Muncie, Ind., campus may be one reason, but Ball State simply didn't want to have to play this game on their opponents' home field. Can you blame the Cardinals? The Broncos are 64-3 on the SmurfTurf the past 10 seasons.
Before the announcement, there were preliminary talks of the teams playing in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, one of the three games affiliated with the MAC. But the main hang-up was trying to find a site both schools could be happy with.
"I don't sense there's definitely a neutral site out there," WAC commissioner Karl Benson told The Star Press (Muncie). "Somebody's going to have home-field advantage."
But doesn't tossing out a matchup that's actually on one of the team's home fields seem like a cop-out? Granted, Detroit is closer to Muncie than Boise, but the Cardinals don't play every game at Ford Field. They could consider the Independence Bowl, which if both the SEC and Big 12 send two teams to BCS games, would have had two at-large spots available and would no doubt be clamoring for a hyped matchup like this.
Of course, neither team has accepted a bowl bid, which means it conceivably could happen, but if it doesn't, does Ball State end up looking like the bad guy because it didn't want to play on its opponent's field in a bowl game? Credit the Humanitarian Bowl, which at least tried to make it happen, but you can't fault the Cardinals for balking on playing in Boise.
What it comes down to is that a game that would have given national buzz to a non-BCS bowl schedule that's, let's face it, often laced with tryptophan, won't happen. If the Cardinals end up playing in Motown and Boise State in San Diego, both the MAC and WAC will be to blame for not delivering.