MUNCIE, IN—Ball State's football team has accepted an invitation to compete in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg in Florida, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m. against the Conference USA East Division Champion UCF Knights.
The Cardinals and Knights will be televised on ESPN in a game played in Tropicana Field. This marks the fifth edition of the ESPN Regional Television owned bowl game from Tropicana Field.
UCF finished the regular season with a 9-4 overall record and a 7-1 mark in Conference USA. The Knights suffered a 33-27 overtime loss to Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game after claiming the East Division title.
"Ball State is a hot team right now, winning six straight, including a road win over conference foe Toledo, which was ranked in the Top 25 at the time," said Brett Dulaney, Executive Director of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg. "We look forward to providing a great bowl week experience for the team and their fans."
Ball State has won its last six games, marking its first six game winning streak since 2008. The Cardinals ended the regular season with wins in their final five MAC games and their final four road games.
"Ball State University is very excited to participate in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg," said Bill Scholl, Director of Athletics for Ball State. "We have heard great things about this bowl and are sure it will be an enjoyable experience for our student-athletes, alumni and fans from all over the country. Ball State's football program is proud to represent the MAC at the bowl, and we are looking forward to the event."
Ball State ranks second in the MAC and 22nd in the nation in total offense with an average of 471.33 yards per game. The Cardinals are 23rd in rushing offense (214.25), 48th in passing offense (257.08) and 31st in scoring offense (35.00).
Head Coach Pete Lembo, who is in his second year with the Cardinals, took over a four-win squad following the 2010 season. He led Ball State to a 6-6 overall record in his first season in 2010 and this year's nine win total is the most wins since its 12-2 team in 2008.
"Our football program is extremely pleased to be representing the MAC at the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg," said Lembo. "We have had an outstanding season and are looking forward to allowing the fans of Florida and our fans across the country to see our exciting team. This is an honor for our football program and our university, and our fans and alumni are excited about the invitation."
The Cardinals are making their first bowl appearance since 2008 when they played Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl. Ball State has played in seven bowls, including back-to-back bowl games after the 2007 (International Bowl in Toronto, Canada) and 2008 seasons.
This will be the fourth meeting between Ball State and UCF. All three meetings took place while UCF was a member of the MAC (2002-04). The Cardinals, which own a 2-1 series advantage, scored a come-from-behind 21-17 win at home in the last matchup on November 13, 2004.
Ticket information on the Beef 'O' Brady St. Petersburg Bowl will be available through the Ball State Athletics Ticket Office at 765.285.1474.