Arkansas State Red Wolves vs Northern Illinois Huskies
Sun Belt offensive player of the year Ryan Aplin is a dual threat QB passing for 3,235 yards with 18 touchdowns and running for a team-high 605 with nine scores for the Red Wolves. ASU has averaged over 38-points per game over the past six contests.
Aplin’s favorite target is senior Dwayne Frampton, who set a school record with 1,125 receiving yards on 90 catches.
Sun Belt defensive player of the year Brandon Joiner ranks among the national leaders with 12 sacks. The senior defensive end paces a unit that gives up 19.3 points per game.
The Red Wolves hope to continue their success without coach Hugh Freeze who left to take the head coaching job at Mississippi. While former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was named Arkansas State’s next coach last month current assistant coach David Gunn will guide the team in Mobile.
NIU features versatile QB Chandler Harnish, the MAC offensive player of the year who owns 20 school records. Harnish completed 63% of his passes for a career-high 2,942 yards while rushing for 1,382 and having his hand in 37 touchdowns - 11 rushing and 26 passing.
The Huskies rank 10th nationally with 481.8 yards per game and ninth with an average of 247.6 rushing yards.
Three Huskies receivers have caught at least 39 passes, led by senior Nathan Palmer, who set career highs with 46 receptions, 683 yards and seven TDs.
The Huskie defense has had its share of problems keeping the opposition in check. The Huskies rank in the bottom third of the nation allowing 31.1 points per game. However, they did not give up a second-half point in rallying from 20 down to beat Ohio 23-20 in the MAC championship game
NIU has a 4-7 bowl record while ASU is 0-1; these teams have met seven times with NIU holding a 6-1 edge winning most recently in 1996 31-30.
Nick’s Pick: NIU 42 – Arkansas State 35
Comment: This will be a fun game to watch. Considering their recent coach change give the edge to NIU and pushing the MAC to an unprecedented 4-1 bowl record this year.