GoDaddy.com Bowl Preview: Arkansas State, Northern Illinois in a Battle of Midmajor Champions

GoDaddy.com Bowl, Jan. 8, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: A chance to visit Mobile, one of the more underrated cities along the Gulf Coast

The Sponsor: A web-domain company that's responsible for all those annoying and risque commercials

The Teams: Arkansas State and Northern Illinois

How Arkansas State got here: With the newest head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. Hugh Freeze steered the Red Wolves to a 10-2 record and the Sun Belt Championship. Arkansas State didn't lose a game after Sept. 17, which is perhaps not coincidentally also the last time they played a BCS team. But the Red Wolves finished the season with a bang, outscoring their last two opponents by a combined 90-33 margin, though we should note here that Middle Tennessee and Troy were pretty awful this year. Arkansas State was first or second in the Sun Belt in basically every major offensive and defensive category, with the only exception being that they were seventh in sacks allowed. Quarterback Ryan Aplin's 320 yards of total offense per game leads the conference and ranks tenth in the nation. The Red Wolves also average 1.5 interceptions per game.

How Northern Illinois got here: By winning its first MAC Championship in 29 years. It was also the third time the Huskies had been to the MAC Championship Game, which actually does exist and is available on television whenever it happens. (It's actually the perfect time to see what Ford Field in Detroit looks like when it's completely empty.) Northern Illinois was 8-1 in conference, with the only loss happening early in the season against Central Michigan. Central Michigan was a very bad team this year, but that's okay, because Northern Illinois also lost to Kansas. However, they smoked Cal Poly, so let's just say that they're inconsistent instead of bad. The Huskies actually do run the ball pretty well, for almost 248 yards a game, and have the ninth-ranked total offense in the country. The defense -- um, yes, they do have a defense at Northern Illinois. But their main weapon is Chandler Harnish, who rushed for more than 106 yards a game and passed for 2,942 yards and 26 touchdowns against five interceptions.

College football fans care because: There are two college football games left.

SEC fans care because: Hugh Freeze used to coach here and Gus Malzahn soon will.

Watch this game if...: You're looking for an appetizer to the BCS National Championship Game on Monday.

The result: Arkansas State 42, Northern Illinois 23

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