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GoDaddy.Com Bowl Preview

Gus Malzahn

Malzahn is off to Auburn while his former team, the Red Wolves, play Kent State in the GoDaddy.Com Bowl.

If you haven’t had enough bowl games leading into the BCS National Championship Game then you have one more shot and as a bonus, you’ll get lots of naughty commercials! The GoDaddy.Com Bowl from Leeds, Alabama if nothing else should provide plenty of offense, cool nicknames and of course, lots of Danica Patric and her friends repping the bowl game’s sponsor. Those are three things I can guarantee you as this game kicks off today.

When Arkansas State Has the Ball – ASU QB Ryan Aplin will be playing his final game for the Red Wolves and he will be extremely missed next season. Aplin commands the nation’s 17th-ranked offense and has thrown for over 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. He will leave the Sun Belt Conference as the all-time passing leader with over 10,000 passing yards! David Oku has been more than just a complimentary running back for the Red Wolves too. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards and led the conference with 15 rushing touchdowns. J.D. McKissic is Aplin’s top target with 93 receptions and over 900 yards receiving.

Aplin thrived under Head Coach Gus Malzahn who had coordinated Auburn and Cam Newton to a national title before taking the head job at ASU. Malzahn has now returned to Auburn as its’ new head coach so the team will be without him in the bowl game. Defensive Coordinator John Thompson will serve as head coach while offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will stay on beofre going with Malzahn to Auburn.

Dri Archer

I look for Archer to have a big day against Arkansas State.

When Kent State Has the Ball – KSU’s Head Coach Darrell Hazell has also accepted a new head coaching position at Purdue, but will stay on to coach the Golden Flashes in their bowl game. This is Kent’s first bowl since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl. KSU will be the complete opposite of the Red Wolves on offense. Dri Archer and Trayion Durham lead the country’s 16th-ranked rushing attack. The duo has combined for over 200 yards per game on the ground has scored 29 combined touchdowns.

QB Spencer Keith throws for less than 170 yards per game which is near the bottom of the FBS in passing. At 6’3″ 220 lbs, Keith doesn’t run the ball much but has scored five touchdowns on the ground. When he throws, his top target is not surprisingly Archer who is a do-everything dynamo for the Golden Flashes. He has 35 receptions for over 500 yards and four TDs. That’s an average of about 15 yards per catch.

Arkansas State (-3.5) vs. Kent State – While both teams are dealing with coaching issues the Golden Flashes at the very least are going to have the man in Darrell Hazell who guided them to an 11-2 record. The Red Wolves finished 9-3 which came off a 10-2 season the year before under then head coach Hugh Freeze who is now at Ole Miss.

Both teams score roughly 35 points per game while both give up about 25 points per game. I have a hard time not seeing this game get into the 30’s. Prior to their loss in the MAC Title game to Northern Illinois, Kent State had won ten in a row and ran to an 8-0 conference record. Two of Arkansas State’s three losses were at Oregon and at Nebraska so they are battle-tested. While KSU’s non-conference schedule wasn’t quite as arduous but did knock off then #15 Rutgers by 12.

KSU has to deal with the disappointment of not reaching the BCS which they would have with a win over North Illinois and if this game were early in December I’d think that hangover would matter. Now I believe with the opportunity to win their first-ever bowl game and with the man that led them all season hanging around for one more game, I like Kent to pull the minor upset behind a ridiculous running attack and tremendous motivation.

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