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Andy Rent’s GoDaddy Bowl Primer: Ball State vs. Arkansas State [Video]

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No doubt there have been some exciting College Bowl games this holiday season.  Come on: Michigan State winning the Rose Bowl?? Outstanding!! The BCS National Championship game is Monday between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn also in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. 

However, probably the biggest game, I argue, is this Sunday night. My alma mater of Ball State tangles with Arkansas State in Mobile, Ala., in the GoDaddy Bowl. What do I think? Go Cards: Chirp! Chirp!

GODADDY BOWL: BALL STATE (10-2) vs. ARKANSAS STATE (7-5)

[Sunday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN]

How They Got Here
Ball State celebrated a 55-14 home victory over Miami University the day after Thanksgiving in Muncie, Ind., to earn its 10th win for only the third time in the Cardinals’ 89-year history of football. Ball State was runner-up in the MAC West to Northern Illinois. Meanwhile, Arkansas State was runner-up in the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves won four of their final five games to finish 5-2 in conference play, finishing second to Louisiana.

When Ball State Has the Ball

Ball State’s record breaking quarterback, Keith Wenning, owns school career records for touchdown passes, passing yards, pass completions and pass attempts. Wenning continued to break school records with 300-yard passing games and three games of 400 or more yards passing, to name a few. Wenning is also the first quarterback in Ball State history to pass for 10,000 or more yards in a career. Wenning’s top threat is receiver Willie Snead (1,429 yards, 97 receptions, 14 touchdowns); and the top rushing threat is Jahwan Edwards (964 yards, 13 touchdowns). Snead has Muskegon ties.

When Arkansas State Has the Ball

The Red Wolves are led by QB Adam Kennedy (2,349 passing yards, 11 touchdowns; 514 rushing yards, four touchdowns). Also, Arkansas State averages 207 yards rushing per game, second in the Sun Belt. The top ball carriers are Michael Gordon (742 yards, 10 TDs) and David Oku (559 yards, six TDs). Defensively, the Cardinals are led by Ben Ingle with 105 tackles this season. They are seventh in the nation in turnovers gained and first in the country in fumbles recovered.

What to Know

Arkansas State is playing in the GoDaddy Bowl for the third consecutive year — and each with an interim coach. Arkansas State’s Hugh Freeze went to Ole Miss in 2012 with the interim being David Gunn in 2012, and Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn went to Auburn with the interim being John Thompson in 2013. This year, Thompson is again the interim coach after head coach Bryan Harsin took the Boise State job. Meanwhile, in Coach Pete Lembo’s three years, Ball State has increased its win total each season: from 6-6 in 2011 to 9-4 last year and 10-2 mark this year. The stretch marks the first time since 1988-91 the Cardinals had a winning mark three straight seasons.

Bowl History

The Red Wolves beat the Mid-American Conference’s Kent State 17-13 last year and lost to the MAC’s Northern Illinois 38-20 in 2012. Ball State lost to Central Florida in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in Tampa last season and last played in Mobile, Ala., in 2009, dropping a 45-13 decision to Tulsa in what was then the GMAC Bowl. Current Michigan Coach Brady Hoke missed that game as Ball State coach, having just left to coach the Wolverines. Ball State has not won a bowl game in six tries.

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