2014 GoDaddy Bowl Preview

January 5, 2014

Thirty-three down, two to go.

My Bowl Mania group will come down to the final game of the season, as the top five entries in the standings (mine not included; I’m sixth) still have a chance to win. That doesn’t happen often, and it’ll make the national title game all the more exciting.

Here is the GoDaddy Bowl preview.

GoDaddy Bowl (Sunday, 9 PM ET – ESPN)

Arkansas State vs. Ball State

I used to affectionately refer to this game as “The Little Big One” because of its placement right before the national title game, but who am I kidding? The only people that even know there is football on Sunday beyond the Green Bay/San Francisco game are the diehard college football fans. There isn’t much to work with so as to distinguish this game “the big one”.

Arkansas State is playing in its third consecutive GoDaddy Bowl, going 1-1 against its MAC opponent in the previous two editions of the game. However, the Red Wolves are also making a third consecutive bowl appearance in which the head coach that led the team throughout the regular season will not be on the sideline for the postseason contest. Bryan Harsin left the school to rejoin Boise State as the Broncos’ new head coach, so for the second straight year defensive coordinator John Thompson will look to lead his team to a bowl victory. The Red Wolves were a much different team in 2013 without quarterback Ryan Aplin and opted to employ a run first attack on offense. Stopping the run is Ball State’s weakness on defense, so expect running back Michael Gordon and quarterback Adam Kennedy to have some success moving the ball on the ground.

Ball State has a top 10 passing offense thanks to senior quarterback Keith Wenning, who will almost surely surpass the 4,000 yard passing barrier in this game. Wenning’s 34 touchdowns to just six interceptions indicates that he is a smart quarterback as well, and will look to take advantage of an Arkansas State defense that, while being one of the best in the Sun Belt, still gave up 234.4 yards per game through the air. In addition to Wenning, junior running back Jahwan Edwards is an underrated talent because of the emphasis placed on the passing game. Edwards will likely break the 1,000 yard rushing mark in this game, and could be the key to the success of the Cardinals if Arkansas State gears heavily to stopping the pass.

I was not impressed at all by the performance of the MAC as a whole this bowl season, but it’s difficult to pick against a Ball State team that appears to be matched against an inferior opponent. Wenning or Edwards may be stopped, but it is unlikely that the Red Wolves will have an answer for both of them. I have Ball State for 25 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 35-23 Ball State

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. Or you can like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two games before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

– K. Becks

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