- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Three keys for today's GoDaddy.com Bowl between Kent State and Arkansas State:
1. Who will stop the run?: Each team ranked in the top 21 in the country in rushing this season. Kent State is 10-0 when outgaining its opponents on the ground and has rushed for at least 300 yards as a team three times. The Golden Flashes didn't just do it against MAC opponents, either, as they ran for more than 240 yards against an outstanding Rutgers defense. They have two 1,000-yard backs in Dri Archer and Trayion Durham. Arkansas State ran for more than 217 yards per game and has a 1,000-yard runner in Tennessee transfer David Oku. Kent State's rush defense numbers are a little better, but Arkansas State had to play both Oregon and Nebraska this year. Will either defense be able to slow down these rushing attacks? The Red Wolves have a far better passing game than Kent State with quarterback Ryan Aplin, whereas the Golden Flashes might run out of options if they can't run it.
2. Turnovers: This is always a major factor in any game, but especially one involving Kent State. The Golden Flashes were second in the nation in turnover margin and tied for the most takeaways with 38. They had 23 interceptions this season by 13 different players, including six by defensive linemen. Safety Luke Wollet leads the way with four picks, while two other players have three. Kent State has scored four defensive touchdowns this season. On the flip side, Arkansas State showed good ball security this season, turning it over only 14 times. Still, Aplin -- who threw only four interceptions in 376 pass attempts -- will have to be very wary of the aggressive ball-hawks on the other side.
3. The kicking game: Both teams run the ball well, play good defense and take care of the ball. That's why Arkansas State won the Sun Belt and Kent State came within a double-overtime loss in the MAC title game of making a BCS bowl. The difference, then, may come down to special teams. And the Golden Flashes appear to have an edge there. Archer is one of the nation's most dangerous return men, and the Red Wolves would be wise to kick it away from him. Arkansas State was last in the nation in punting and was also bad in the return game. Those extra yards of field position could mean a lot in a game that figures to be close.
24mMax Olson and Brian Bennett