NCF Nation: Luke Wollet Bowl keys

January, 6, 2013
Three keys for today's 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.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 26, 2011
Here are the non-AQ players of the week as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a nationwide media panel.

Conference USA
Reggie Bullock, RB, East Carolina. Bullock rushed for a personal-best 169 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries to help East Carolina beat UAB 28-23.

Defense: Jamie Bender, S, UAB. Had 11 tackles and returned one interception 35 yards for a touchdown in a loss to East Carolina. That was the first defensive score for the Blazers since 2009.

Special teams: Danny Hrapmann, K, Southern Miss. Made three of four field goals (43, 35 and 27 yards), including two in the final quarter of a 30-24 victory over Virginia. He also converted a fake punt deep in the Golden Eagles' end zone and ran 31 yards for a first down.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Eifert set a career-high with eight receptions for a game-high 75 yards and a touchdown in a 15-12 win at Pittsburgh.

Defense: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU. Had eight tackles and a sack in a win over UCF.

Special teams: Cody Hoffman, WR/KR, BYU. Had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 24-17 win over UCF. That was BYU's first kickoff return touchdown since Oct. 17, 1998 -- a span of 161 games.


East Division

Offense: Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple. Ran for a school record and MAC record-tying five touchdowns in a 38-7 win at Maryland. Pierce eclipsed the 100-yard mark in rushing for the 12th time in his career and third time this season. He finished with 149 yards on 32 carries for five touchdowns.

Defense: Luke Wollet, S, Kent State. Had two interceptions while matching his season-high with eight tackles in a 33-25 win over South Alabama.

Special teams: Ray Hutson, WR, Bowling Green. Blocked a punt and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return in the Falcons’ 37-23 win at Miami (Ohio).

West Division

Co-Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Eric Page, WR, Toledo. White set his career record with 14 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in a 23-30 loss at No. 24 Illinois. White became the fourth Bronco to have over 200 career catches and recorded his 14th 100-yard receiving game.

Page had a season-high 13 receptions and career-high 158 receiving yards in a 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse. Page had 279 all-purpose yards, including 114 yards in kickoff returns.

Defense: Sean Baker, S, Ball State. Had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one interception in a 48-21 victory over Army. He was a part of a Ball State defense that tied an NCAA single game record by not allowing Army to complete a pass in the game.

Special Teams: Jeremiah Detmer, K, Toledo. Kicked a 52-yard field goal in his first career attempt in a 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse. The 52-yarder was the second-longest field goal in Toledo history.

Mountain West

Co-Offense: Chris Nwoke, RB, Colorado State, Deon Long, RB, New Mexico. Had 102 yards of total offense (85 rushing, 17 receiving) and scored two touchdowns in Colorado State’s 35-34 double-overtime victory at Utah State. Nwoke tied the game with a 1-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left in regulation, then provided the game-winner with a 2-yard run on CSU’s second possession in overtime.

Long broke the school and Mountain West single-game record with 378 all-purpose yards in New Mexico’s overtime loss to Sam Houston State. Offensively, Long caught nine passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

Defense: Shaquil Barrett, LB, Colorado State. Had a team-high 14 tackles in a 35-34 double-overtime win at Utah State. He also added his first career fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Special teams: Tanner Hedstrom, LS, Colorado State. Hedstrom recovered two fumbles on muffed punts, including a critical takeaway to set up the game-tying score in Colorado State’s 35-34 double-overtime win at Utah State.

Sun Belt
Blaine Gautier, QB, Louisiana. In just his fourth career start, Gautier totaled 307 yards (221 passing/86 rushing) and tossed three touchdown passes to lead the offense in a 36-31 upset over FIU.

Defense: Chris Pickett, DB, Troy. Recovered a fumble and returned it for a 63-yard touchdown in a win over Middle Tennessee. Pickett finished the game with seven total tackles, including one for loss, and also broke up a pass.

Special Teams: Brian David, K, Arkansas State. Set a new Sun Belt and school record when he made six field goals in a 53-24 win over Central Arkansas. His 23 points scored in the game also set a league and school record for points scored in a single game by a kicker.

Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii. Set a new school record and tied an NCAA record with seven touchdown passes in the first half of a 56-14 win over UC Davis. Moniz also set a new school record with 424 passing yards in a half. He was 30-of-40, and did not play in the second half.

Defense: Travis Brown, LB, Fresno State. Made a career-high 11 tackles in Fresno State’s 48-24 win at Idaho. Brown led the Bulldog defense that allowed just 55 yards of total offense in the second half and 44 yards rushing for the whole game.

Special teams: Kevin Goessling, K, Fresno State. Made all six of his extra point attempts and both field goal attempts from 48 yards in the win at Idaho.