Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
The Arkansas State Red Wolves and Northern Illinois Huskies match up in the GoDaddy.com Bowls Sunday. The Red Wolves are -1 point favorites over the Huskies with an over/under point total set at 62.
Arkansas State is riding a nine game winning streak and were unbeaten in the Sun Belt on the way to the program’s first ten win season. The success cost them head coach Hugh Freeze who took the top spot at Mississippi leaving David Gunn to run the show Sunday. The Red Wolves had no trouble moving the ball with the #23 offense that averaged 454 yards and over 33 points with 288 yards coming from the nation’s #18 passing attack. Quarterback Ryan Alpin led the passing game, completing 274 of 418 throws for 3,235 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Dwayne Frampton was the star of the receiving corps with 90 catches for 1,125 yards and six touchdowns with Josh Jarboe proving to be a reliable second option with 707 yards on 52 catches. Taylor Stockemer (37-571) rounded out the top producers with four others combining for 600 yards. Aplin used his legs to lead the Red Wolves in rushing with 151 carries turning in to 605 yards and nine scores with Derek Lawson rumbling for 459 yards on 111 totes. Frankie Jackson gave ASU another 343 yards on 85 tries with all three averaging four yards per touch. Arkansas State also featured the #21 ranked defense that gave up 326 yards and 19 points with the #14 rush D that gave up 107 yards per contest.
Northern Illinois has won eight in a row to help capture their first MAC Championship in 28 years and their fourth consecutive Bowl appearance. The Huskies success stems from their ability to move the chains and stick the ball in the end zone. NIU was #10 with 482 yards and 38 points with a top ten running game that averaged 248 yards. That doesn’t mean Northern Illinois couldn’t put the ball in the air because Chandler Harnish was spectacular, completing 219 of 348 for 2,942 yards with 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Nathan Palmer and Martel Moore were interchangeable in the receiving department, combining for 86 catches for 1,211 yards and 13 touchdowns with Perez Ashford (39-450) and Da’Ron Brown (23-317) giving Harnish four quality targets. However, Harnish is best known for tucking the ball and running with 1,385 yards on 185 carries for 7.5 yard average and eleven touchdowns. Jasmin Hopkins was right on his heels with 939 yards on 179 tries with 13 trips to the end zone. Akeem Daniels (53-284) and Jordan Lynch (38-250) didn’t get much work but were effective whenever they touched the ball. The problem for the Huskies was on defense as this unit didn’t stop anybody, allowing 418 yards and 31 points to rank #89.
Both teams moved the ball and found the end zone with regularity but only the Red Wolves had any defensive bite. The problem for the Red Wolves is they have not faced a talent like Harnish who will be the best player on the field but I’m backing defense here.
Arkansas St. Red Wolves -1 Northern Illinois Huskies