Bowl Preview

January 8, 2012

Two years ago I called this game “The Little Big One”. No. Not this year. That was a lie then, and it would be a lie now.

People do not care about this game. I feel bad for players like Chandler Harnish, really. He is a good player and had he played in a minor bowl in December, the entire nation could have learned his name. Instead, only alumni and fans of the schools playing probably even know this game is being played tonight.

Here is the preview for tonight’s game. Bowl

Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois

If you are reading this post, there is a good chance it is because you are planning on watching this game. In that case, you might be rather angry about what I said above. Either that or you think I’m an idiot. Don’t get me wrong, I think that this game actually has the potential to be very entertaining for those who watch it. The only problem is, a lot of people won’t.

The Red Wolves were the class of the Sun Belt this year, going undefeated in their conference schedule and losing just two games all year. Much of the success can be traced back to head coach Hugh Freeze, who in his first year on the job increased the win total by six games from the previous year. Unfortunately for Arkansas State, Freeze will not be coaching in this game, having left for the vacant head coaching position at Mississippi. However, the Red Wolves are still very capable of winning without their former head man. Good on offense but even better on defense, Arkansas State has the ability to slow down Chandler Harnish, which isn’t an easy task. In order to win this game, the Red Wolves will have to force Harnish into making some mistakes and capitalize on the opportunities created by them.

Northern Illinois is riding an eight game winning streak heading into this game, but it hasn’t been easy sledding by any stretch. Five of those wins came by six points or less, and the Huskies had to come back from a 20 point deficit in order to beat Ohio in the MAC Championship Game. The bad news about that is that it means the Red Wolves could get out to an early lead. The good news is that the Huskies are not out of any game as long as their star quarterback gets a chance to move his team down the field. Harnish is going up against a defense that picked off more passes this season than any team in the MAC, so he will have to play smart, maybe even relying on his legs more than his arm. In addition, the close games and adversity that Northern Illinois has had to overcome this season favors them in a close game. Arkansas State has been easily beating opponents all year.

I really like Northern Illinois, and it hurts me to pick against them. However, in a last-gasp effort to move up in the College Bowl Mania standings, I am going to pick the team I think less people chose. I have Arkansas State for 27 points in this one.

Final Score: 30-24 Arkansas State

– K. Becks

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