The favorites in the past 11 GoDaddy Bowl are 8-1-2 against the spread. That trend would mean bad news for Arkansas State and great news for Ball State bettors if it continues in 2014. When the two teams take the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Jan. 5, Ball State will be a 9-point favorite.
Ball State will be looking for the first bowl win in program history with an 0-6 straight-up record in six all-time bowl appearances. Fueled by one of the top passing attacks in the nation, the Cardinals (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS, 8-4 OU) were one of college football's biggest money makers this season at 8-4 against the spread. They finished ninth in the nation in passing yards with 333.3 per game and 12th in the nation in scoring with 40.1 points per game. The defense gave up its share of yards, but held opponents to a respectable 24.8 points per game.
Arkansas State (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS, 7-5 OU) looked to be in jeopardy of missing out on bowling this year after starting the season off on a 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS slump, but finished the season off very strong with a 4-1 SU and ATS record that included road upsets over Louisiana-Monroe and South Alabama. The Red Wolves' biggest strength is their running game, which ranked 26th in the country, averaging 207 yards per game.
Six of the last eight GoDaddy Bowls (formerly the GMAC Bowl) have played under the points total, but this game might buck that trend if the last month of the season is any indication. Both Ball State and Arkansas State finished the season with four straight games in which the total went over.
Arkansas State will be adding to its GoDaddy Bowl betting history by playing in it for the third straight season, topping Kent State last year after losing to Northern Illinois the year before.
Ball State is probably the better team on paper, as indicated by the 9-point spread. That is one of the bigger spreads on the entire bowl season card. But Arkansas State will feel comfortable playing in this familiar bowl, and has the talent to take advantage if the Cardinals succumb to the pressure of winning their first bowl game.
GoDaddy Bowl computer prediction: 42-31 Ball State