Arkansas State, Toledo meet in GoDaddy Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Arkansas State and Toledo don’t have much history against each other, with the Rockets winning both meetings in the early 1990s.

That’s about to change starting Sunday with the GoDaddy Bowl.

Arkansas State (7-5) and Toledo (8-4) will meet in both the 2015 and 2016 regular seasons, a home-and-home series set up before the bowl game was announced. Red Wolves coach Blake Anderson said Sunday’s first matchup will lay a foundation for an intriguing three-game set between two of the Football Bowl Subdivison’s best mid-major programs.

”It allows us to build a rivalry,” Anderson said. ”It creates some energy that you wouldn’t get with a one-game, one-time scenario. We’re going to know each other pretty well by the time this thing is over with.”

Arkansas State is back at the GoDaddy Bowl for a fourth straight season. The Red Wolves are trying for their third straight win in Mobile after beating Kent State and Ball State.

First-year coach Anderson has managed to keep Arkansas State on a winning track despite being the program’s fifth head coach in five seasons. Steve Roberts resigned in 2010 before Hugh Freeze (Mississippi), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Bryan Harsin (Boise State) all left after one season for more high-profile jobs.

Arkansas State is led by junior quarterback Fredi Knighten, who has thrown for 2,874 yards and run for 775 more.

Toledo will counter with sophomore running back Kareem Hunt, who has 1,360 yards rushing despite missing three games in the middle of the season with a sprained ankle.

”Both of these teams have really good skill athletes – guys who can score the ball from anywhere on the football field,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. ”And when you have that, it really adds to who you want to be offensively.”

Some things to watch when Arkansas State and Toledo meet in the GoDaddy Bowl:

COMFORTABLE IN SYSTEM: Knighten has learned three offenses during his three seasons with the Red Wolves. This is the junior’s first season as the starter and he’s adapted quickly to Anderson’s offense. Knighten said: ”Once you finally figure out it just clicks. It’s been difficult for some guys, but we’ve pushed through it.”

HUNT’S BIG SEASON: Hunt, a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, has run for at least 100 yards in every game he’s played, and his 7.9 yards per carry average ranks second in the country.

IF IT’S CLOSE: If Toledo has the ball in the final minutes and the game is separated by less than three points, the Rockets have a good chance to win. Jeremiah Detmer is the most accurate kicker in Mid-American Conference history, connecting on 65 of 77 (84.4 percent) field goal attempts.

COACHING FAMILIARITY: The game’s two coaches, Anderson and Toledo’s Matt Campbell, have known each other for about six years since their days as assistant coaches. Anderson said the two run very similar offenses. Campbell, 35, is one of the youngest coaches in all of the FBS. Said Anderson: ”I didn’t know when he’d get his opportunity, but when I met him I thought he was really solid. Very sound. He has a great mind for football.”

TEN RESILIENT PLAYERS: Arkansas State has 10 players who have been with the program over the past five years, even though the Red Wolves have had a different coach every single year. Arkansas State has still had four straight winning seasons despite the transitions, ending each with a trip to the GoDaddy Bowl.

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