2014 GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State Red Wolves vs Ball State Cardinals
Ladd-Peebles Stadium – Mobile, Alabama
Sunday, January 5, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Ball State -9
Current Line: Ball State -7
Opening Total: 61
Current Total: 65
Opening Money Line: Ball State -320 / Arkansas State +265
Current Money Line: Ball State -280 / Arkansas State +240
The 7-5 Arkansas State Red Wolves take on the 10-2 Ball State Cardinals in the GoDaddy Bowl Sunday in Mobile. Arkansas State went 5-2 in the Sun Belt and tied with Louisiana for the conference title. The Ragin’ Cajuns won the tiebreaker because they beat Arkansas State earlier in the season. Ball State was second in the MAC West division at 7-1 behind 8-0 Northern Illinois. Arkansas State and Ball State have never met before in football.
Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Boise State. Defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game, as he did year when Gus Malzahn left for Auburn. This is the third season in a row that the Red Wolves will have an interim coach for a bowl game after Hugh Frezze left ASU to become the head coach at Ole Miss in the 2011 season. This is also the third bowl in a row Arkansas State is playing in Mobile. The Red Wolves lost to Northern Illinois 38-20 in 2012 and beat Kent State 17-13 here last season. Overall, ASU is 1-2 all-time in bowl games as they also lost the 2005 New Orleans Bowl to Southern Miss.
Ball State is coached by Pete Lembo. He interviewed for open positions at other schools, including UConn but it looks like he will stay at Ball State for the time being. The Cardinals are 0-6 all-time in bowls, including a 38-17 loss to UCF in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl last year. Ball State has lost their last three bowl games by an average of 28 points. Ball State lost this game in 2009 to Tulsa 45-13 when it was known as the GMAC Bowl.
Arkansas State has road losses to Auburn 38-9, Memphis 31-7, Missouri 41-19, and Western Kentucky 34-31 to close out the regular season, along with a home loss to Louisiana 23-7. The Western Kentucky loss snapped a four game winning streak and also cost the Red Wolves the outright Sun Belt title. Still ASU has won at least a share of three straight conference titles. The Red Wolves have home wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff 62-11, Troy 41-34, Idaho 48-24, Texas State 38-21, and Georgia State 35-33 along with road wins over South Alabama 17-16 and ULM 42-14. ASU is 5-6-1 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. The Red Wolves were 6 point underdogs at Western Kentucky and the total was 55.5.
Arkansas State is outscoring teams 30-27 this season. The Red Wolves are averaging 413.3 yards per game including 206.3 passing and 207 rushing yards. ASU is #24 in rushing out of 124 FBS teams and #89 in passing. On defense, the Red Wolves are allowing 418 total yards including 234.4 passing and 183.6 rushing yards. Arkansas State is 71st or worse in all three categories. The Red Wolves are +7 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. ASU averages 58 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 45. The Red Wolves are 87/200 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 75/200. Arkansas State has forced 23 sacks and allowed 27 this season. The Red Wolves are 42/48 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns and opponents are 40/52 with 30 touchdowns. ASU has a kick return, a punt return, and a fumble return all for touchdowns and has allowed a pick six this season.
Arkansas State quarterback Adam Kennedy has completed 69.4% of his passes for 2,349 yards with 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 147 carries for 514 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury Back-up Fredi Knighten has thrown for 100 yards and a touchdown pass, along with 36 carries for 247 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.
Running back Michael Gordon has 106 carries for 717 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown. David Oku has 141 carries for 511 yards with 6 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 110 yards. Sirgregory Thornton has 60 carries for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 50 yards.
Receiver Julian Jones has 51 catches for 630 yards and 4 touchdowns. J.D. McKissic has 73 catches, 590 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 16 carries for 118 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also has a kick return for a touchdown and also threw a touchdown pass. Darion Griswold has 23 catches, 301 yards and 3 touchdowns. Allen Muse has 26 catches, 356 yards and a touchdown. Raziel Valgis has a punt return for a touchdown.
Ball State has losses at North Texas 34-27 and Northern Illinois 48-27. The Northern Illinois loss snapped a 7 game winning streak for Ball State. The Cardinals have home wins over Illinois State 51-28, Army 40-14, Toledo 31-24, Kent State 27-24, Central Michigan 44-24 and Miami-(OH) 55-14 to close out the regular season, along with road wins at Eastern Michigan 51-20, Virginia 48-27, Western Michigan 38-17, and at Akron 42-24. Ball State is 8-4 ATS and the total is 8-4 this season. The Cardinals were 34.5 point favorites against Miami and the total was 60.5.
Ball State is outscoring teams 40-25 this season. The Cardinals are #11 in scoring nationally and #49 in points allowed. Ball State is averaging 486.3 yards per game including 333.2 passing and 153.1 rushing yards. The Cardinals are #17 in total offense and #9 in passing, but the rushing attack is #79 nationally. On defense, Ball State is allowing 420.8 yards per game including 226 passing and 194.8 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals are #86 in total defense, #58 against the pass and #92 against the rush. Ball State is +12 in turnovers with 30 takeaways. The Cardinals are averaging 32 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 63. Ball State is 71/163 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 91/212. The Cardinals have forced 25 sacks and allowed 14 this season. Ball State is 56/62 scoring in the red zone with 42 touchdowns and opponents are 27/35 with 20 touchdowns. The Cardinals have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns and have a fumble return for a touchdown.
Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning has completed 65.2% of his passes for 3,933 yards with 34 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 45 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.
Running back Jahwan Edwards has 184 carries for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Horactio Banks has 95 carries for 595 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus a catch. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Teddy Williamson has 66 carries for 213 yards and a touchdown, plus 2 catches.
Receiver Willie Snead has 97 catches, for 1,429 yards with 14 touchdowns. Jordan Williams has 68 catches for 1,016 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jamil Smith has 63 catches for 855 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 33 rushing yards and a touchdown. Tight end Zane Fakes has 37 catches for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 48 rushing yards. Three little used receivers, a tight end and three defensive backs are listed as questionable or out Sunday.
Arkansas State is 4-1 ATS overall, 8-2 after passing for 170 yards or less, 7-2 after a cover, 7-3-1 against teams with winning records, and 0-4 in non-conference games.
Ball State is 7-2 ATS in non-conference games, 26-9 after passing for more than 280 yards, 15-6 after a cover, 22-9 overall, 12-5 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 20-9 on fieldturf, 2-5 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 1-4 in neutral site games, and 1-5 after allowing less than 20 points.
Arkansas State isn’t terrible on defense, but they aren’t great either. I don’t think they can slow down the explosive Cardinal attack. The Red Wolves can’t get into a shootout or they will get blown out. I like Ball State to win their first ever bowl game rather easily.