Bowl Odds

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The Ball State Cardinals (10-2) square off against the Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5) on Sunday, January 5 in the 2014 GoDaddy Bowl. This is the final bowl game before the BCS Championship between Auburn and Florida State the next night.

This contest will take place inside of Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 EST Sunday night with ESPN providing the television coverage. Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have pegged Ball State as a 9-point favorite over Arkansas State with a total set of 61 points.

Why Ball State Covers

The Cardinals have been one of the most underrated teams in the country all season. They managed to win 10 games while going 8-4 against the spread to make backers a ton of money. They were very close to a perfect season as their two losses came on the road to North Texas and Northern Illinois. Both of those contests were one-score games in the fourth quarter with the Cardinals having a chance to win had they made one or two more plays in each.

Ball State is one of the most exciting teams to watch in all of college football due to its explosive offense. It ranks 14th in the country in scoring offense (40.1 points/game) and 20th in total offense (486.3 yards/game). Keith Wenning has been incredible, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 3,933 yards with 34 touchdowns against six interceptions. Jahwan Edwards (964 yards, 13 TD, 5.2/carry) and Horactio Banks (595 yards, 7 TD, 6.3/carry) form a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield. Wide receiver Willie Snead (97 receptions, 1,429 yards, 14 TD) is a load.

While the Cardinals have not been that great defensively, they do the things that matter well. They are only giving up 24.8 points per game due to forcing a ridiculous 2.5 turnovers per game. They play a bend but don’t break style and will turn you over any chance they get. Arkansas State, which gives up 26.7 points and 418.0 yards per game, will have its hands full in trying to contain Wenning and company.

Ball State is a very profitable 22-9 against the spread in its last 31 games overall. The Cardinals are 7-2 against the number in their last nine non-conference games. The Red Wolves are 0-4 against the spread in their last four non-conference games. Also, Arkansas State just lost head coach Bryan Harsin to Boise State. Harsin represents the third head coach in the last three years that has bolted for a better job. This could be a distraction to the players as they feel let down heading into the bowl game.

Why Arkansas State Covers

For a third straight year, the Red Wolves have been vastly underrated. They went 7-5 this season to earn a share of the Sun Belt Title alongside Louisiana-Lafayette. They also went 7-5 against the spread at the pay window for yet another profitable year for backers. The Red Wolves navigated a brutal schedule with four of their five losses coming to Auburn, Missouri, LA-Lafayette and Western Kentucky, who will all be going to bowl games this year.

There’s no question that the Red Wolves played a much more difficult schedule this year than the Cardinals. Ball State really didn’t have too many good wins all season. Its 10 wins came against Illinois State, Army, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Virginia, Kent State, Western Michigan, Akron, Central Michigan and Miami Ohio. Only one of those 10 teams will be going to a bowl game this year. Even that win over Toledo only came by a touchdown, and it was played at home.

Arkansas State has been very solid on offense this season, scoring 29.7 points per game and racking up 413.3 yards per game. It relies heavily on a rushing attack that ranks 29th in the country at 207.0 yards per game and 4.6 per carry. Ball State ranks 88th in the country against the run, giving up 194.8 yards per game and 4.7 per carry. The Cardinals gave up over 200 rushing yards in seven different games this season. Their poor defense is going to make it tough to cover this spread as they’ll be asked to win by double-digits to get the money.

Arkansas State ranks 29th in the country in rushing offense at 207.0 yards per game and 4.6 per carry. Ball State ranks 88th against the run, giving up 194.8 yards per game and 4.7 per carry. It has given up over 200 rushing yards seven different times this season.

The Red Wolves are 7-0 against the spread versus good passing teams who average 250 or more passing yards per game over the past three seasons. Arkansas State is 6-0 against the number in road games vs. poor passing defenses who allow a completion percentage of 58% or worse over the last two seasons. The Red Wolves are 6-0 against the spread after scoring 31 points or more in three straight games over the past two seasons.

My Early Lean: Arkansas State +9

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