Maybe Arkansas State should just hire interim coach John Thompson as its permanent coach.
For the second-straight year, Thompson picked up the pieces of a coaching staff in turmoil — the result of Brian Harsin being hired away by Boise State — and led the Red Wolves to a postseason victory, this time defeating favored Ball State, 23-20, in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile on Sunday night.
This one featured a wild finish, as Ball State rallied from a 16-10 third-quarter deficit to take a 20-16 lead with 1:33 to play.
But ASU came back and went 59 yards in five plays, with Fredi Knighten finding Allen Muse for a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Red Wolves up, 23-20, with 32 seconds left.
The Cardinals weren’t finished. Keith Wenning passed Ball State into Red Hawk territory, then completed a first-down throw to Willie Snead with two seconds left at the ASU 36 yard line. A late hit penalty advanced it to the 21 and BSU had a chance to pull out the victory with a field goal.
But Scott Secor’s 38-yard attempt was blocked and ASU secured the wild win.
The Red Wolves finished up the year 8-5, while Ball State fell to 10-3.
With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to 0-7 in bowl games. Arkansas State moved to 2-2 in bowls and can now embark upon its coaching search with a little bit of momentum behind it.
One of the more underrated storylines heading into Week 6 continued its tack of uncertainty Tuesday.
During the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, Dalvin Cook tweaked his hamstring and didn’t return to the contest. The sophomore running back was initially labeled as day-to-day for this weekend’s game against Miami, and that hasn’t changed as Jimbo Fisher reaffirmed that Cook’s status for the in-state rivalry game remains up in the air.
“We’ll keep waiting,” the head coach said, adding that, because of Cook’s knowledge of the offense, he could sit out of practice the entire week and still take the field against the Hurricanes.
“He knows what to do, you can keep him healthy and do that there’s no doubt about that,” Fisher said.
Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th. The Seminoles’ No. 2 rusher, Mario Pender, is still dealing with the aftereffects of a collapsed lung that will sideline him for at least another week.
Oklahoma State’s defense has taken what will likely prove to be a very significant and impactful blow.
On Twitter as well as Instagram late Tuesday night, Ryan Simmons announced that he “recently tore my MCL & PCL which will require surgery.” As a result, Simmons, who was injured in the Week 5 win over Kansas State, will miss the remainder of the 2015 season, even as OSU has yet to officially confirm the linebacker’s status moving forward.
Because Simmons is a senior, and this is his final season of eligibility, the end of his 2015 season would also mean the end of his collegiate career.
Simmons has started the last 31 games for the Cowboys. He was second on the team in tackles last season, and his 26 career tackles for loss makes him OSU’s active leader in that category as well.
On his official bio, it’s written that Simmons is “[o]ne of the unquestioned leaders of the team, both on and off the field.”