The very last game in this bowl season before the main course the Allstate BCS Championship Game the next day two of the best teams in the non-BCS leagues will collide in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., when Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State plays MAC champ Northern Illinois. These teams enter this contest with a combined 17-game winning streak.
These two programs have played seven times in the past between 1990 and 1996, with Northern Illinois having won six of the seven meetings. The last contest in 1995 was a 31-30 NIU victory the only bright spot in a 1-10 season. The lone ASU victory was a 28-21 decision in 1995. Three of the contests came when the two teams were in the Big West Conference.
The live GoDaddy Bowl odds show Arkansas State -1.5 and the over/under set at 62.5 points.
Other than LSU, Arkansas State just might be the hottest group in America coming into the bowl season, as they have won nine games in a row and a Sun Belt Conference title (8-0) coming into this bowl. Most recently, ASU won its last two games by a combined 90-33 over Middle Tennessee and Troy. The Red Wolves are 4-2 as a visitor, winning the last four the only defeats were at Illinois and Virginia Tech.
On defense, Arkansas State ranks a stellar 15th in the nation in points allowed (19 points per game) and gives up 325 yards per game (219 through the air, 107 on the ground) while recording 32 sacks and enticing 28 turnovers two of which were returned for touchdowns (Darryl Feemster, fumble; Sterling Young, interception).
Demario Davis paces the defense with 65 tackles, while Kelcie McCray has 62 stops and a team-best four interceptions. Darron Edwards has three forced fumbles and three picks.
Offensively, the Red Wolves rank 28th in the country in offense (33 ppg) while compiling 454 yards per game (289 throwing, 165 on the ground).
Ryan Aplin has completed 66 percent of his throws for 3,235 yards and 18 scores with 13 picks, while the offensive line has allowed 24 sacks. Dwayne Frampton paces the receivers with 90 receptions (38 more than any other player) for 1,125 yards and six TDs, while Aplin and Derek Lawson pace the rushing attack with a combined 1,064 yards with 12 TDs on 4.0 yards per attempt.
The Huskies, like the Red Wolves, finished their regular season on a roll. After a 48-41 loss to Central Michigan left the Huskies at 2-3, it won the next eight meetings, including a 23-20 victory over Ohio in the MAC Title Game to get to this bowl against the Sun Belt champ. The Huskies were 4-3 as a visitor, but has won the last four such games, three of them by a total of seven points.
On offense, Northern Illinois ranks 13th in the nation in offense (38 ppg) while gaining 482 yards per game (248 on the ground, 234 through the air).
Chandler Harnish leads the running attack with 1,382 yards and 11 scores on 7.5 yards per tote, while Jasmin Hopkins has 932 yards and 15 touchdowns on 5.2 yards per attempt. Harnish hits on 63 percent of his attempts for 2,942 yards and 26 TDs with five interceptions, while the offensive line has given up just nine sacks. Nathan Palmer paces the receiving corps with 46 catches for 683 yards and seven scores.
The Huskies don’t do well defensively, ranking 90th in the nation in scoring defense (31 ppg) and giving up 418 yards per contest (240 passing, 178 rushing) while recording 25 sacks and generating 20 turnovers with one taken back for a TD (Nabal Jefferson, interception).
Pat Schiller leads this unit with 108 tackles, while Sean Progar has 5.5 sacks. Rashaan Melvin and Dechane Durante each have two interceptions.
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