2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl
No. 25 Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 • 9:00 p.m. ET
Ladd-Peebles Stadium (FieldTurf/40,000) • Mobile, Ala.
Television: ESPN (Mark Jones, Brock Huard, Jessica Mendoza)
Kent State’s 40-year bowl drought officially ends Sunday, when it takes on Sun Belt champion Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., on ESPN. In a season filled with many firsts, the Golden Flashes are seeking the program’s first bowl victory. Sunday will also be the final game on the Kent State sidelines for Head Coach Darrell Hazell and 18 seniors.
Facts In A Flash
• Kent State is tied for first in the FBS in both turnover margin (+21) and turnovers gained (38).
• Sunday marks the first meeting between the two programs.
• The Golden Flashes’ only two prior bowl appearances came in 1954 and 1972.
• Kent State is ranked No. 25 in both the AP Poll and the BCS Standings.
• At 11-2, the Flashes have shattered the 90-year program record for victories in a season set by the (Don) James Gang (9-2) in 1973.
• Kent State was one of only 10 teams entering its bowl game with 11 victories.
• The Flashes rank 17th in the FBS in rushing offense. Over their last nine contests, the Flashes are averaging 253.3 rushing yards a game.
• Senior tackle Brian Winters will be making his program record-setting 50th career start. He was the only MAC player chosen for the Senior Bowl.
• Consensus All-American Dri Archer leads the nation in kick return average, is fifth in all-purpose yards and tied for 11th in scoring. He is Kent State’s single season record-holder in touchdowns with 22.
• Archer and sophomore Trayion Durham have combined for 2,600 rushing yards.
• Senior QB Spencer Keith is KSU’s career leader in completions (717) and passing yards (7,905).
• Behind freshman Anthony Melchiori, KSU ranks 12th in the nation in net punting (40.1).
• Junior Roosevelt Nix is second among active FBS players in career tackles for loss (51.5).
How Times Have Changed
The Golden Flashes have accomplished in two seasons (16 wins) what once took 12 years. In a 12-season span from 1989-2000, Kent State combined for only 16 wins (16-115-1).
Since Last Year
From 2011 to 2012, No FBS team has made a bigger turnaround in the win column than Kent State. Only Ohio State and Middle Tennessee have matched the Golden Flashes’ with having six more wins than last year’s total.
Prior to Nov. 11, Kent State was only ranked in the AP Poll one other time in school history. This year, the Flashes entered the BCS standings for the first time in school history, ranked as high as No. 17. The Flashes first ranking came in November of 1973, leading up to No. 19 Kent State hosting No. 17 Miami in front of Dix Stadium’s largest crowd ever. Kent State’s Oct. 27 win at No. 15 Rutgers was its first victory over a ranked opponent. After falling to Northern Illinois, the Flashes are 1-23 against ranked opponents.
Speed & Power
Dri Archer and Trayion Durham became the first tandem in program history to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season. The duo is averaging 200 yards per game on the ground. Durham is on pace to join Archer in the 1,300-yard club. The pair combined for 323 rushing yards on 31 carries at Miami. Both rank among the top 40 rushers in the nation and both were Doak Walker Award candidates, honoring the nation’s best running back. Kent State was one of five teams with two backs on the list. They have run for 100 yards in the same game three times (Buffalo, Akron, Miami), a feat that had not been accomplished once since 2008 by Julian Edelman and Eugene Jarvis.
Keith Adding To The Run
With defenses focused on Durham and Archer, quarterback Spencer Keith has also become a running threat over his the last five games, scoring four rushing touchdowns.
180 Turnaround On The Road
During preseason camp, success on the road was a major point of emphasis. A win at Miami gave Kent State its first single-season, five-game, road winning streak in program history. At Bowling Green, the Flashes extended that streak to six. Prior to Sept. 19 at Buffalo, the Flashes had dropped seven of their last eight road games, five of which were by 30 points or more. The Flashes had not even won three straight on the road since 2006. The win at Army was the Flashes’ first non-conference road victory since 2007 (Iowa State).
Winning the Ground Battle
Kent State is 14-1 since last season when out gaining opponents on the ground (10-0 in 2012). The Golden Flashes gained over 300 yards rushing for the third time this season at Bowling Green, out gaining the Falcons (334-83). Since 2009 Kent State has run for over 200 yards on nine occasions and eight have come in the last 11 games.
• Rutgers, who ranked third in the nation in run defense and scoring defense, still allowed Kent State’s five ball carriers to combine for 242 rushing yards.
• The Flashes’ tripled Eastern Michigan’s rushing yards (321-107), 68 of which came on one run. Kent State out gained Buffalo 239-168, despite the Bulls having the MAC’s leading rusher in Branden Oliver.
• Kent State’s run defense ranks third in the MAC and 40th in the nation. Towson backs were held to 43 yards in Kent, while Miami was held to 26 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the Flashes rushing offense ranks 17th in the nation.
Despite sitting out the entire 2011 season, Dri Archer wasted no time establishing himself as one of the nation’s best all-around threats, making his way onto every All-America Team. Archer is also one of four finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, which honors the nation’s most versatile player. His 22 touchdowns has shattered KSU’s previous single-season record of 18. Archer is the only player in the nation with more than 1,300 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving. He is tied for 11th in the nation and leads the MAC in scoring at 10.2 points per game. Archer has six multi-touchdown games and four three-touchdown performances. He is the only player to score touchdowns three different ways and throw for a TD.
1. On the ground, Archer is averaging 9.0 yards per carry, the highest single-season average, this century. He’s scored 15 rushing touchdowns on 150 attempts, including four TDs of 60 yards or more. Archer reached 1,000 yards for the season on his 103rd carry of the year. Archer’s 104.0 rushing yards per game ranks 27th in the nation. He ran for 222 yards on only 12 carries at Army, the most in a game by a KSU player since 2007. Archer then topped that with a Perry Stadium record 241 yards at Bowling Green with touchdowns runs of 79 and 74 yards. His 87-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter at Army was Kent State’s longest play from scrimmage this year and the second longest run in the MAC. Archer was a member of the Doak Walker Award list.
2. Archer leads the team in catches (35), receiving yards (539) and touchdown catches (4). He had a career-high 104 receiving yards against Ball State, including touchdown grabs from 33 and 23 yards out. In the MAC title game, his 60-yard grab was his fifth catch of 33 yards or more. The dual threat on offense earned MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors twice.
3. The MAC Special Teams Player of the Year, Archer’s season’s opening kickoff was returned 57 yards, followed shortly after by a 98-yard return for a TD against Towson. His 99-yard TD return against Ball State was the second longest in program history. At EMU his 98-yard return was the longest in Rynearson Stadium history. Archer’s three kick returns for touchdowns is tied for the nation’s lead and is two shy of an NCAA record. He was named to the Jet Award Midseason Watch List, honoring the nation’s top returner. Since his third touchdown, opponents have avoided traditional deep kickoffs. Archer was named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week twice.
Archer also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Keith at Army, the first pass he’s thrown at Kent State. Against Towson, Archer became the first Kent State player with three touchdowns in a game since Julian Edelman in 2008. He then matched that feat against Ball State, Eastern Michigan and Miami. He has been named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll three times and has earned weekly honors from College Football Performance Awards five times. He has also earned helmet stickers twice from Lou Holtz on ESPN. Archer ranks fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards (189.2 ypg) and his 350 all-purpose yards against Ball State was a 2012 NCAA game-high until Oct. 13. At Miami, five of his offensive plays went for 21 yards or more.
• Of his 202 touches (150 rushes, 35 catches, 15 kick returns, 1 pass, 1 punt return) this season, Archer has 39 plays of 20 or more yards and 70 plays of 10 yards or more.
• Archer has at least one score in 12-of-13 games.
• Archer’s backup at slot receiver and former high school teammate, freshman Josh Boyle has made 28 grabs for 338 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Trayion Durham has been the perfect complement to Archer. Despite being second on the team in rushing, Durham’s 1,274 yards are fourth most in a season at Kent State. His 14 rushing touchdowns are the third most in a season at Kent State. Durham’s three rushing touchdowns against Akron were the most in a game by a Kent State player since 2008 (Julian Edelman), two of which came on fourth down. The very next week he set a career-high in rushing yards (172) at Miami, before injuries slowed him down in the last three games. Taking on one of the top run defenses in the nation at Rutgers, he ran for a then career-high 131 yards. Durham was the only player to run for over 100 yards against Rutgers this season. Durham claimed MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors twice by week seven. At EMU, his 116 yards and two scores, all came in the first three quarters. Two weeks later, he ran for a then career-high 124 yards on 19 carries against Western Michigan. Durham’s second-quarter, 19-yard touchdown run against the Broncos came on a pivotal fourth down. Eight Durham carries went for first downs at Miami, topping his seven first downs against Western Michigan. Durham had run for over 50 yards in 16 straight games prior to Bowling Green. He has run for over 85 yards in nine games. His 96.0 yards per game this year ranks 37th in the nation and seventh in the MAC.
Durham originally set career highs in rushing (112) and receiving (47) at Buffalo and picked up four or more yards on 14 of his 23 carries, including a key 24-yarder in the fourth quarter. Against Ball State, he came up with a clutch 20-yard run late in the game to set up a game-winning field goal. He has five runs of 20 yards or more int he fourth quarter and averages 6.66 yards per carry in the fourth. Beginning with the eighth game of 2011, Durham went from scoring his first career touchdown against Bowling Green, to having a season-high 90 yards against Central Michigan, to posting new highs of 107 yards and two touchdowns at Akron.
Haynes Named Head Coach
On Dec. 18, Paul Haynes was named Kent State’s 21st head coach. Haynes becomes just the second former Kent State football player to become head coach of the Golden Flashes. He also coached at KSU under Dean Pees in 1999 and 2000. This past season, Haynes served as defensive coordinator at Arkansas and was at Ohio State from 2005-11. On Sunday, he only plans on being in the stands and cheering on his alma mater.