ATHENS, GA. –– Cardinal fans flocked south of Muncie for the weekend to Sanford Stadium to see Ball State take on No. 1 Georgia. 651 miles separate the two schools.
Fans used to Scheumann Stadium were in awe of being between the hedges of Sanford.
From a stadium in Muncie surrounded by grass fields to a stadium with roads closed off for gameday in Athens. A sea of thousands of Bulldog fans swarmed the stadium in a crowd that seemingly never ended.
“This stadium is a whole lot bigger,” Cliff Crump said.
Cliff and his wife, Marsha, traveled down to see their Cardinals face Georgia. Cliff works at Scheumann Stadium, so if anyone can compare the two, it’s Cliff.
“The great thing is just getting to see this,” Cliff said. “Being able to experience something this big, a stadium that [holds] 90 plus thousand.”
While talking about Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, only one word came to mind for Tawanna Frazier, mother of redshirt freshman defensive lineman Dakari Frazier, “unbelievable.”
Between the famous dark green hedges lining the field, it was unlike anything some people had ever seen.
“All these seats are going to be filled, that is crazy.” Frazier said, gazing around the semi-empty stadium before kickoff.
Frazier said, that in the end, she is proud. Proud to be in Athens with her son, watching him have a once-in-a-lifetime experience facing the No. 1 team in the nation.
Alumnus came out in droves, donning the Cardinal red (eerily similar to Bulldog red). Head coach Mike Neu even referenced the color similarity in his post-game press conference, jokingly saying the Georgia fans were cheering for Ball State in their red and black.
Among the sea of red and black was former Ball State kicker (2017-2021), Jake Chanove. He was able to make the trip to UGA to watch some of his former teammates compete against the No. 1 team in the nation. Chanove made the trip with his wife, Sam, and his two grandparents who live in Georgia.
“I love seeing Ball State go up against the giants, we were always the underdog when I was there and we like a good fight,” Chanove said. “I'm excited to get to see them play and put on a good performance.”
Chanove said Southeastern Conference (SEC) football is a different animal from the Mid-American Conference (MAC). As the UGA band belted out Glory, a faint hum was heard throughout the stadium each first down, with ‘Glory, Glory to Old Georgia’ on a majority of fans’ minds.
“The fans are great and it's exciting,” Chanove said. “It's a fun environment to be in.”
Joshua Munson could not agree more. The father of redshirt freshman wide receiver Nick Munson, he also made his way down to Athens for the occasion.
“We enjoy following him around and watching him living the dream,” Joshua said.
As Cardinal fans navigated the stadium, they made their way to sections 101 and 102, the Ball State section. As Georgia students ran, walked or sprinted past to get to their student sections, the concourse was filled with red and black.
Redshirt freshman Chris Hood's mother, Maria Hood, said the atmosphere was like no other before kickoff, and to be there in Athens was special.
“It is awesome,” Maria said. “To be in a stadium like this, it is too cool.”
Considering the size of a school like Ball State versus that of a school like Georgia, it is a great experience for the players to have, Maria said.
“Seeing them be able to go up against the No. 1 team in the nation is going to be awesome,” Hood said.
Redshirt senior offensive lineman Damon Kaylor had his support in the stands too, including his father, Blaine Kaylor.
“It is hard to describe [the feeling before kickoff],” Blaine said. “I have so much passion for these boys, and going up against the number one team in the nation is something they hopefully never forget.”
Although Cardinal fans head back up north with a loss, for many, the experience was always about memories being made.