After a historic regular season, the San Jose State Spartans (7-1) finished with a clunker against Ball State (7-1) in the Arizona Bowl, losing 34-13.
The Spartans are now 7-4 all-time in Bowl Games, while Ball State is now 1-8-1.
SJSU Head Coach Brent Brennan made the very questionable decision to send everyone home for Christmas, and after trailing 27-0 after the first quarter, it showed it was a very poor decision.
Due to sending the players home, SJSU was unable to practice for a week and also ended up missing several players and coaches due to COVID-19 results or contact tracing.
The following players didn’t play: Bailey Gaither (WR), Cade Hall (DE & MWC DPOY), Tre Jenkins (Safety), Kyle Hoppe (OL), Tyler Stevens (OL) and Offensive Coordinator Kevin McGiven and Defensive Coordinator Derrick Odum among others.
It’s worth noting that Ball State also had players missing in this game.
SJSU received the opening kickoff in the game and threw a pick-six and then followed by going three-and-out. Ball State nearly immediately scored a touchdown to go up 14-0 exactly five minutes into the game.
As I mentioned earlier, Ball State led 27-0 after 15 minutes of play. And built a 34-0 lead 5:18 into the second half.
The Spartans had 347 yards of total offense, but the glaring numbers: 4 turnovers (all interceptions), 8 penalties for 80 yards, 2-for-13 (15.4%) on third-down and 1-for-3 in the Red Zone.
Nick Starkel, who had a pretty good season, was not good today, completing 25-of-42 passes for 268 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions.
Nick Nash was 1-of-4 throwing the ball for 10 yards and 1 interception.
After winning their first Conference Title since 1991 (Big West Title), it was an extremely disappointing finish to the season, especially considering potential undefeated seasons don’t come around terribly often and especially at SJSU. Not to mention, SJSU will probably be knocked out of the Top 25 in the final rankings with the stinker of a performance.
This year didn’t count towards a year of eligibility for any player, so the seniors have a chance to return in 2021. Nick Starkel already announced he’d be back in a Spartans uniform for 2021. The other key pieces that SJSU will need to wait on decisions are: Tre Walker, Bailey Gaither, Jackson Snyder, among others.