The 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl features the 25th ranked Kent State Golden Flashes (11-2) out of the Mid-American Conference taking on the Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-3) out of the Sun Belt Conference at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL this Sunday night (9:00pm ET). Kent State is 10-2-1 ATS this season, and they will be playing the game with Coach Darrell Hazell at the helm, Hazell, who left to take the top job at Purdue, will stay to coach his team in the bowl game. Arkansas State is 8-4 ATS this season; the Red Wolves will also be without their coach from the regular season as Gus Malzahn left to take the top job at Auburn.
The Kent State offense is a high-scoring unit considering the level of production they have received in terms of total offense. The Golden Flashes rank a very respectable 31st in the nation in scoring with 34.6 points per game, while ranking 71st in total offense with 391.2 YPG with a mostly run-oriented offense that averages 228.3 YPG on the ground to rank 14th in the nation. Linebacker Luke Batton is the top defender for Kent State with 132 tackles for a defense that is tied with Oregon for the national lead with 38 takeaways. On defense, Kent State ranks 48th among FBS teams in points allowed with 25.1 per game and 79th in total defense with 418.7 YPG.
The Arkansas State offense is red-hot, having scored 131 points in their final three games and topping 500 yards of total offense in each of those contests. Two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Ryan Aplin (3,110 yards passing) leads the unit, which ranks 22nd nationally in scoring with 36.4 PPG and 15th nationally in total offense with 481.8 YPG. The Red Wolves’ defense ranks 50th in points allowed with 25.4 per game and 54th in total defense with 386.4 YPG.
Kent State vs. Arkansas State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Kent State Golden Flashes +4
@ Arkansas State Red Wolves -4
Over 61 (-110)
Under 61 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Kent State vs. Arkansas State Pick:
Kent State is 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with a winning record, 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 games overall and 5-13 ATS in their last 18 non-conference games. The Red Wolves are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win. The over is 6-1 in Kent State’s last 7 games against a team with a winning record, 5-2 in their last 7 games on field turf and 10-4 in their last 14 games overall. The under is 14-4-1 in Arkansas State’s last 19 non-conference games, 19-6-2 in their last 27 games against teams with a winning record and 5-2 in their last 7 games on field turf.
The key matchup in this game is the Kent State secondary against the dominant Arkansas State passing game, the Golden Flashes rank 11th in the MAC and 108th in the nation against the pass with 276.5 yards per game through the air. Aplin, who holds the Sun Belt Conference career records for total offense and passing yards, should be able to have a big day against that type of pass defense. Aplin has also run for 1,761 yards and 31 touchdowns in his a career, and he should be the difference-maker in this game for Arkansas St. The presence of Aplin gives Arkansas State a big advantage in this game and tilts the scales in favor of picking them to cover for this writer. Take the Red Wolves in their second year playing in this game to cover against a Kent State team that has never won a bowl game in their history.
PICK = Arkansas State -4