MOBILE, AL. - The GoDaddy.com Bowl pits BCS No. 25 Kent State (11-2, 8-0) from the Mid-American Conference against Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1) of the Sun Belt. The 14th annual holiday classic will take place on Sunday, January 6 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama at 9:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Kent State lost to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game and then lost head coach Darrell Hazell to Purdue. But Hazell is remaining with the Golden Flashes through the bowl game. Afterward, former walk-on player Paul Haynes takes the reins. Haynes spent the season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas after serving as an assistant with the Ohio State Buckeyes from 2005-2011. He also has NFL experience as a quality control coach for Jacksonville. Haynes was a standout defensive back with the Golden Flashes from 1987-1992.
Defensive coordinator John Thompson was named on December 5 as the Red Wolves' interim head football coach through the bowl game after Gus Malzahn accepted the head coaching position at Auburn. Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was announced December 12 as the new head coach at Arkansas State. Harsin spent 10 seasons with Boise State before heading to the Longhorns for the last two seasons. He was not with Texas for the 31-27 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State.
Malzahn replaced Hugh Freeze after Freeze left the Red Wolves to take Houston Nutt's vacancy at Ole Miss. In Freeze's lone season as head coach in 2011, he guided the Red Wolves to a 6-win improvement over the previous season, from 4-8 to 10-2. In the process, Arkansas State captured its first outright Sun Belt title and gained its first 10-win (10-2) season since 1986. The Red Wolves then lost to Northern Illinois 38-20 in this same bowl game. Malzahn's 2012 Red Wolves team won a second straight outright Sun Belt title.
Arkansas State is 0-2 in bowl games while Kent State is 0-1.
This is the first bowl appearance for the Golden Flashes since the 1972 season Tangerine Bowl.
Kent State's offense is paced by junior running back Dri Archer, the No. 27 rusher in the nation with a per game average of 104 yards while scoring 15 touchdowns. Sophomore teammate Trayion Durham added 14 TD's and is ranked 37th in rushing with an average of 96 yards per game.
Arkansas State senior quarterback Ryan Aplin leads the Red Wolves' 17th-ranked total offense. Aplin ranks 18th in pass efficiency with 23 TD's and just 4 INT's while completing 67.7% of his passes for 3,110 yards. Aplin has also rushed for 443 yards and 6 more TD's.
The Red Wolves boast a 1,000-yard rusher in David Oku with 1,043 yards and 15 scores.
The NCAA's highest-scoring bowl game was played in this game in 2001 when it was know as the GMAC Bowl. In that contest, Marshall overcame a 30-point halftime deficit to beat East Carolina 64-61 in double overtime.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com give Arkansas State a 2.86-point advantage.