Quarterback Ryan Aplin and the Arkansas State Red Wolves are the real deal, having lost only to BCS-conference foes Illinois and Virginia Tech. (US PRESSWIRE)
Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Arkansas State (10-2)
Jan. 8, 8 p.m ET (ESPN)
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Reason to watch: Pointy point points! The Huskies and Red Wolves field, respectively, the No. 13 and No. 26 scoring offenses in the FBS, and have scored a combined average of more than 70 points per game this season.
NIU shot its way through the vast majority of the MAC, coming up short only once in conference play, a 48-41 loss to Central Michigan way back in Week 5. The Huskies clocked out with fewer than 40 points on the scoreboard on just four occasions this season, and avoid playing defense whenever possible, allowing an average of 31 points. (If you’re not a MAC partisan and are wondering why this team sounds familiar: It was on the winning end of that fiery 63-60 Tuesday night game with Toledo that put MACtion on the map for casual college football fans.)
You may know Arkansas State as The Team With The Guy From The Blind Side (The Coach, Not The Player), but Hugh Freeze is off in Oxford now trying to reanimate Ole Miss Football. He did a yeoman’s job of work before departing Jonesboro — the only reason the Red Wolves recorded any losses at all this season is a nonconference schedule that included Illinois and Virginia Tech — but will be replaced on the sidelines this weekend by interim skipper David Gunn. Gunn plans to stay on as part of the new staff of the team you’ll now know as That Team Gus Malzahn Left Auburn For.