The Toledo Rockets take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl on Sunday, January 4th. This contest will be played inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. It is the final bowl game aside from the championship of the four-team playoff.
Toledo (8-4, 7-1 MAC) finished in a tie for first place in the MAC West with Northern Illinois but lost out on the tiebreaker to play in the conference championship game. The Rockets are 8-5 all-time in bowl games, including a 15-41 loss to Utah State in the Idaho Potato Bowl in their last appearance in 2012.
Arkansas State (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt) finished tied for fourth place in the Sun Belt this season after earning at least a share of the conference title for three straight years. The Red Wolves are 2-2 all-time in bowl games after beating Ball State 23-20 in the GoDaddy Bowl last year.
Kickoff for the GoDaddy Bowl is scheduled for 9:00 EST Sunday night with ESPN providing the television coverage. If you are looking to place a bet on this game, you’ll find Toledo as a 4-point favorite over Arkansas State with a total set of 67 points.
My Early Lean: Toledo -4
The Rockets had a fine season this year and arguably were the best team in the MAC. Yes, they lost to eventual MAC champion Northern Illinois, but they only lost that game by a final of 24-27 as 3.5-point road underdogs. They even outgained the Huskies by 56 total yards in the loss. In fact, they won four of their final five games of the season with their only loss coming to NIU, so they are playing very well coming in.
The Rockets have outgained each of their last five opponents. They have only been outgained four times all season, and all four of those instances were by less than 100 yards. That’s why you’ll find that the Rockets have put up some incredible numbers this season. They are outgaining teams by an average of 96 yards per game on the season.
Their offense has been explosive in averaging 34.4 points and 490.3 yards per game. Logan Woodside has done a marvelous job in taking over for the injured Phillip Ely. Woodside is completing 61.0% of his passes for 2,087 yards with 19 touchdowns and only seven interceptions on the season. Expect a heavy dose of Kareem Hunt, who is 3rd in the FBS with an average of 151.1 rushing yards per game and 5th at 7.9 yards per carry. He has scored 11 touchdowns in nine games.
That’s bad news for an Arkansas State defense that has been atrocious against the run all season, especially here of late. The Red Wolves have allowed an average of 35.0 points, 369.2 rushing yards per game and 5.5 per carry while splitting their final six games of the season. They give up 193 rushing yards per game and 4.5 per carry on the year.
Toledo has really come on here of late defensively, yielding 20 or fewer points in three of its last four games. The only exception was the 27 points allowed to a high-powered NIU offense, which was actually a good showing. The Red Wolves rely heavily on the run this season as they rush for 230 yards per game and 5.1 per carry. That makes this an excellent matchup for the Toledo defense, which gives up just 120 rushing yards per game and 3.6 per carry.
The Red Wolves rely heavily on the run this season as they rush for 230 yards per game and 5.1 per carry. That makes this an excellent matchup for the Toledo defense, which gives up just 120 rushing yards per game and 3.6 per carry.
I always like to see how teams fare against other bowl teams to try and predict what is going to happen in the bowl game that season. Well, Toledo is 3-3 against bowl teams this season with its losses coming to Missouri, Cincinnati and Northern Illinois. It beat Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Bowling Green.
Arkansas State is just 2-5 against teams with .500 records or better. It has lost to Tennessee (19-34), Miami (20-41), Louisiana-Lafayette (40-55) and Texas State (27-45) all by 15 points or more. It also lost to Appalachian State 32-37 at home. That game was a bigger blowout than the final score would indicate as the Red Wolves were outgained by 235 yards in the loss.
I question Arkansas State’s motivation coming into this one. This will be the fourth straight year that it will be playing in the GoDaddy Bowl, which has to be a minor letdown. The Red Wolves have also won their last two bowl games, so they aren’t going to be too excited about trying to win a third straight GoDaddy Bowl. That’s why the edge in motivation has to go to the Rockets in this one.
Arkansas State is 7-24 ATS in its last 31 vs. good rushing teams that average at least 4.75 yards per carry. The Rockets are 26-13 ATS in their last 39 games as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points. The Red Wolves are 0-11 ATS in their last 11 games after gaining 300 or more rushing yards in their last game.