Arkansas State, Kent State ‘under’ 63: College Bowl Picks

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, January 6, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Kent State may not have its usual running success vs. an underrated Arkansas State defense and the Red Wolves are being coached by their defensive coordinator. Go ‘under’ Sunday.

We may see a lower scoring game than the high posted total may suggest in the GoDaddy.com Bowl Sunday night when the Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-3, 4-2 away) take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (11-2, 6-1 away) at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 63 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -102.

While we get that most bettors will be focused on the NFL Playoffs Sunday afternoon and/or looking ahead to the BCS National Championship Game Monday night, there is actually an opportunity in between the two with this final non-BCS bowl game taking place tonight after the NFL Playoffs are over.

What makes this game notable is that both head coaches that guided these teams into this game have accepted positions at other schools. Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn is going back to Auburn to serve as their head coach after serving as the offensive coordinator there before accepting the head coaching job at ASU and guiding the Red Wolves to the Sun Belt Conference title this year. Arkansas State will be coached by defensive coordinator John Thompson for this game.

Meanwhile Kent State’s Darrell Hazell guided the Golden Flashes to the MAC Championship Game vs. Northern Illinois, leaving them just one win shy of going to a BCS bowl. The difference here is that Hazell is being allowed to coach this game for Kent.

The Golden Flashes  rely on a potent running game that finished 15th in the country in rushing offense this season with 228.3 yards per game on 5.4 yards per carry, led by the tandem of Dri Archer and  Trayion Durham. Archer practically posted video game numbers, setting an FBS record for the highest rushing average for any player with at least 150 carries, averaging an astonishing 9.0 yards per carry while rushing for 1352 rushing yards!

Durham followed closely in terms of yardage, running foe 1248 yards on a still excellent 4.9 yards per carry. The problem for the Golden Flashes here though is that they are going up against an underrated Arkansas State rushing defense. If the running game gets slowed down, then Kent will have trouble scoring because its passing offense ranked a dismal 114th in the country.

Flashes’ quarterback Spencer Keith completed only 55.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 1864 yards, and he averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt with a poor ratio of 12 touchdown passes against nine interceptions.

Arkansas State is on a seven-game winning streak and the Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference Champion by stifling what had been a hot Middle Tennessee State team 45-0. That kind of performance in both sides of the ball has not been uncommon during the winning steak either.

Yes the Red Wolves are known for their offense, and deservedly so as they ranked 15th in the country in total offense with 481.8 yards per game while averaging 36.4 points, and they have also scored at least 34 points in every game during the seven-game winning steak. What often gets overlooked though is that the defense is much better than the 386.5 yards per game it allowed overall this season, especially the run defense.

You see, two of the three Arkansas State losses this season came at Oregon, which may finish in the top three in the country in the final polls, and at Nebraska, a powerful running team out of the Big Ten that is on a whole other level above both combatants in this game.

ASU ended up allowing 153.3 rushing yards per game on 4.0 yards per carry overall, but if you back out those aforementioned two games where the Red Wolves were outclassed, they allowed only 119.6 rushing yards per game on a mere 3.5 yards per rush in the other 10 contests.

Thus, look for the Kent State offense to struggle with its running game slowed down, and even Arkansas State may not have its usual offensive success with the coaching situation, making the ‘under’ appear to have good value at this huge number Sunday.

[gameodds]6/133528/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

College Football Pick: Arkansas State, Kent State ‘under’ 63 (-102)

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