Jeff Reed: Red Wolves’ Bowl Prospects on the Line


Jeff Reed Author PageThe big worry inside the Arkansas State camp this weekend is about bowl prospects. As in: are there any?

Two weeks ago that was not a concern. Not even on the radar. Now it is.

But with their consecutive losses – one at home to Appalachian State and the other on the road at Texas State – the Red Wolves, who have gone to three straight bowl games, winning the last two, are no longer a sure thing.

While the Sun Belt now has three bowl tie-ins, there will be four candidates vying for those slots. UL-Lafayette, which lost out on a conference title with its season-ending home loss to App-State, Arkansas State, Texas State and South Alabama, all will be stating their cases and courting the bowl committees this week.

The four bowls are New Orleans, GoDaddy and Camellia. Two of the three are in Alabama, which could prove beneficial to South Alabama.

The Red Wolves sit at 6-5 and need a closing victory at home over New Mexico State. In the last two games, they’ve seen a running back go for 200-plus yards in both losses.

Those close to the program could see it coming. Known to be thin at the beginning, all the masking and duct tape used in those early games are gone. The Red Wolves did not have much depth to begin with and the injuries that come late in the season the patchwork has sprung a few leaks.

The Red Wolves’ woes on the offensive line were exposed by UL-Lafayette and Idaho, games the team split, and was a telling sign of things to come.

Football has changed a lot in recent years, but the bottom line is if you win the line of scrimmage you usually win football games. Winning that battle has become the issue of late.

Arkansas State closes the season at home Saturday against New Mexico State, a game where the Red Wolves will be favored. But they were favored in the previous two, losses to App State and Texas State.

With a victory, A-State will finish 7-5 for the second straight season. League champion Georgia Southern does not qualify for a bowl game. UL-Lafayette will likely have its pick and A-State fans know they get what they want with Karl Benson as league commissioner. The Cajuns can take NOLA for the fourth straight season or they can possibly be lured to the GoDaddy in Mobile.

There will be a lot of local pressure in Mobile to take South Alabama, which is 6-5 but hosts a strong Navy team in its finale. At 6-6, the Jags would have the worst bowl record of the bowl eligible teams.

The Camellia is new and is in Montgomery, Ala. It will be interesting to see what happens there. It could pick A-State, USA or Texas State. If ULL opts for Mobile then all kind of options are open, which might lead Arkansas State to NOLA for the first time.

ULL and USA have location over the other schools. Texas State is farthest from away.

With Texas State and USA there is no history, but both would likely have a fan base excited over a first bowl game. Arkansas State has shown in three straight trips to Mobile the fan base will travel.

The next week will include lots of wheeling and dealing. And you know A-State athletic director Terry Mohajir will be right in the middle. But then so will the other guys.

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Jeff Reed is editor of

a state bowl prospects


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