Posted by Tom Fornelli
NORTHERN ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois won the MAC this season, and did so because it has one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Huskies finished 9th in the country in total yards per game at 481.8 yards per game while scoring 38.3 points a game, but the biggest difference maker for Northern Illinois in this game may be its defense. Odds are that the Huskies are going to score some points, but can their defense keep somebody else off the board? NIU allowed 31.3 points a game this season, and will be facing an Arkansas State offense that isn't exactly a pushover, as the Red Wolves scored 33.5 points a game and feature Ryan Aplin at quarterback. Aplin finished 10th in the country in total offense for Red Wolves this year. Northern Illinois will need to find a way to keep Aplin in check during this contest, or else we're going to see a game that could end up rivaling the Alamo Bowl, and whichever team has the ball last will win.
ARKANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois has a pretty good quarterback of its own in Chandler Harnish, and he will not be an easy test for this Arkansas State defense. Harnish finished eighth in the country in total offense ahead of Arkansas State's Aplin. The biggest difference here between these two teams, and what may decide this game, is that Arkansas State's defense was a lot more successful in 2011. The Red Wolves allowed only 19.3 points a game this year, good enough to place the Red Wolves in the top-15 nationally in scoring defense. Aside from Virginia Tech and Illinois, no offense was able to score more than 24 points in a game against Arkansas State. If Arkansas State's run defense -- which finished the year ranked 14th in the nation -- can keep Chandler Harnish and Jasmin Hopkins from running wild, then the Red Wolves are going to win this game.
X-FACTOR: It's hard to pick only one, so the X-Factors in this game will be both quarterbacks, Ryan Aplin and Chandler Harnish. These are two players who do more for their teams than just about any other player in the country, and odds are whichever one of these two players has the best day, their team is going to win.
Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame
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