Ball State gets first bowl win in school history with 34-13 Arizona Bowl victory over San Jose State

Ball State’s run as the most futile bowl team in college football is over.

The Mid-American Conference champion Cardinals (7-1) won the first bowl game in school history on Thursday with a 34-13 win over San Jose State (7-1) in the Arizona Bowl. The victory came in Ball State’s eighth postseason appearance and in its first since 2013.

The win was evident from the moment the game started. Ball State scored 27 points in the first quarter thanks to a pick six and a blocked punt. Shorthanded San Jose State was unable to attempt any sort of comeback, and Ball State didn’t have to sweat over the final three quarters.

Ball State wider receiver Yo’Heinz Tyler had four catches for 103 yards and a TD, while Will Jones, Tye Evans and Drew Plitt all rushed for touchdowns.

San Jose State QB Nick Starkel threw three interceptions. Backup Nick Nash also threw an interception among his three passing attempts while briefly replacing a shaken-up Starkel in the first half.

Ball State head coach Mike Neu and Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt (9) talk in the first half of the Arizona Bowl NCAA college football game against San Jose State, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Ball State coach Mike Neu and QB Drew Plitt helped get the school its first bowl win ever. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Ball State was 0-7 in bowl games

No school has been worse in bowl games than Ball State. The Cardinals entered the Arizona Bowl as one of eight teams at the top level of college football to never win a bowl game and the only one of those eight to have played in more than two bowl games.

Ball State’s streak stretched back to 1989 when the Cardinals went to the California Bowl in the program’s 15th year of existence. That game was a 27-6 loss to Fresno State. Since then, the Cardinals have been to Las Vegas twice; Mobile, Alabama, twice; St. Petersburg; and Toronto without getting a bowl game win.

Now that Ball State has won, the only teams without bowl wins are Charlotte (0-1), Coastal Carolina (0-1), Louisiana-Monroe (0-1), South Alabama (0-2) and UTSA (0-2). UMass and Texas State are also both winless in bowl games, but neither team has made a postseason appearance yet.

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