MOBILE, AL. - The GoDaddy.com Bowl sends Arkansas State of the Sun Belt against Ball State of the MAC on Sunday, January 5 at 9:00 p.m. EST on ESPN from Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Arkansas State is making its third straight visit to Mobile after tying Louisiana-Lafayette for a share of the Sun Belt title with a 5-2 conference mark and an overall record of 7-5. The Red Wolves won outright Sun Belt titles the previous two seasons. Last year, Arkansas State picked up its first-ever bowl win (1-2) by downing Kent State 17-13 in a matchup of teams that had never won a bowl game.
This year's opponent for Arkansas State has also never won a bowl game in 6 previous efforts. Ball State comes to Mobile with a 10-2 overall mark and a MAC record of 7-1 under 4th-year head coach Pete Lembo.
Arkansas State has managed to consistently win on the field despite its inconsistency at the head coaching level. When Bryan Harsin decided to move on to Boise State, he became the third straight coach to lead the Red Wolves for only 1 season. And all 3 Arkansas State teams in the GoDaddy.com Bowl have been led by an interim head coach. In 2011, it was David Gunn while John Thompson did the honors in 2012 and steps up again for this year's contest.
Blake Anderson was hired on December 19 as Arkansas State's next full-time head coach. Anderson has been the offensive coordinator at North Carolina for the past 2 seasons.
In 2011, Arkansas State was led by Hugh Freeze who left for Ole Miss. The 2012 squad was coached by Gus Malzahn who has this year's Auburn team in the BCS National Championship game.
Anderson will be the 5th different head coach, and the 6th coaching change, in 40 games at ASU when it kicks off its 2014 season. Steve Roberts was there for 9 years before resigning after the 2010 season with a 45-63 mark.
Ball State is led by school record breaking quarterback, Keith Wenning owns the school career marks for touchdown passes, passing yards, pass completions and pass attempts. Considered to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, Wenning is the first QB in Ball State history to pass for 10,000 or more yards in a career.
This year, Wenning had a 65.2% completion rate for 3,933 yards with 34 TD's and 6 INT's.
Defensively, the Cardinals are led by Ben Ingle with 105 tackles this season. They are seventh in the nation in turnovers gained and first in the country in fumbles recovered.
Arkansas State QB Adam Kennedy is no slouch. A first-year starter as a senior, Kennedy completed 69.3% of his passes for 2,349 yards with 11 TD throws and 6 interceptions. He added 514 yards and 4 more touchdowns on the ground.
The NCAA’s highest-scoring bowl game was played in the then-GMAC Bowl in 2001, with Marshall overcoming a 30-point halftime deficit to beat East Carolina 64-61 in double overtime. Offense has always been a key factor in previous GoDaddy Bowl games.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com give Ball State an 8.31-point advantage.