Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5) vs.
Ball State Cardinals (10-2)
Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET, Mobile, Ala. (ESPN)
ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES BREAKDOWN
Despite dropping their season finale to Western Kentucky, the Red Wolves were still able to claim a share the Sun Belt championship with Louisiana-Lafayette after finishing 5-2 in league play. Arkansas State has now won the Sun Belt for the third consecutive season.
The Red Wolves entered the month of November with a 3-4 record before winning four straight. During that stretch, Arkansas State score under 30 points just once. On the season, the Red Wolves averaged 414.2 yards per game, but also gave up an average of 417 yards an outing.
Arkansas State has made headlines recently because of its former coaches who have gone on to have immediate success in the SEC, but the Red Wolves claimed another conference title without them. Arkansas State has gone 20-3 in league games over the last three seasons and is 1-1 in its last two bowl games. -- Edward Aschoff
BALL STATE CARDINALS BREAKDOWN
A postseason trip was secure for a while, and another double-digit win total is wrapped up as well. Now the speculation shifts to whether Ball State can keep its coach around for another one.
Pete Lembo, like Brady Hoke before him, might be the latest to lead the Cardinals near the top of the MAC, knock off a BCS-conference opponent on the road, clinch a bowl bid and then spend December fielding job offers while preparing for a game. With 19 wins over the last two seasons, Lembo could be a popular target after overseeing a team that scores in bunches.
Ball State averaged more than 40 points per game thanks to quarterback Keith Wenning's eye-popping passing numbers, coming up just shy of 4,000 yards and throwing for 34 touchdowns -- more than enough to take pressure off a defense that finished fourth in the conference in points allowed. -- Austin Ward