WHO: 7-5 Arkansas State (Sun Belt Conference) vs. 10-2 Ball State (MAC)
WHAT: GoDaddy Bowl (15th year)
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Birmingham, Ala.
WHEN: Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET
WHY: For the third consecutive year, Arkansas State goes into its bowl game without its head coach, while Ball State will be looking for its first bowl win in seven tries.
The Red Wolves lost Hugh Freeze to Ole Miss in 2011, Gus Malzahn to Auburn in 2012 and this year saw Brian Harsin head back to Boise State, which means defensive coordinator John Thompson will run the team for the second-straight postseason. He’ll have a tall task trying to contain Ball State’s high-scoring offense.
The Cardinals averaged 40.1 points per game and are led by quarterback Keith Wenning, who threw for 3,933 yards and 34 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Wide receiver Willie Snead was his main target, with 97 receptions for 1,429 yards and 14 scores. Tailbacks Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks combined for 1,459 yards and 20 touchdowns. So this is a balanced, dynamic attack.
The Red Wolves were not quite as proficient on offense, but they did get a solid season from dual-threat quarterback Adam Kennedy, who threw for 2,337 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 514 yards and four scores. The ASU rushing attack is pretty good, churning out yards at the rate of 207 per game.
Will the Red Wolves falter as the result of another postseason filled with coaching turbulence? Will the Cardinals finally get that bowl victory? Our guess is ‘yes’ on both accounts.
PREDICTION: Ball State 38, Arkansas State 17