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Teams Set For 2012 Bowl

MOBILE, AL.- The 13th annual Bowl will feature a pair of 10-win, conference champions that boast exciting offenses. Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois (10-3, 7-1) will face Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State (10-2, 8-0) in the Bowl game on Sun., Jan. 8, 2012, at 8:00 pm. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Northern Illinois accepted an invitation Sunday to play in the Bowl as the MAC representative. The Huskies claimed a 23-20 come-from-behind victory over Ohio University last Friday night to earn their first-ever MAC crown. Arkansas State, which accepted an invitation to represent the Sun Belt a few days ago, ended its regular season with an impressive 45-14 victory over Troy. The win gave the Red Wolves the outright league title.

“We’re excited to have two 10-win conference champions with two of the top quarterbacks in college football and two offensive powerhouses,” says Bowl President, Jerry Silverstein.

The Bowl has had several top offensive teams and players participate in the past and this season’s matchup of Northern Illinois and Arkansas State offers both. As a team, both ranked among the top 26 teams in Football Bowl Subdivision play in NCAA stats heading into games of the past weekend. Also, the two quarterbacks — NIU’s Chandler Harnish and ASU’s Ryan Aplin — rank among the top 11 players in the nation in total offense.

The Huskies rank No. 9 in total offense in the country (488.17 yards per game), tied for 11th in scoring offense (39.58 points a game), No. 8 in rushing offense (255.33), No. 11 in first down offense and No. 11 in red zone offense. Harnish, a senior, ranks No. 7 in total offense (336.92 yards per game), No. 15 in passing efficiency and No. 15 in rushing (112.5 yards per game).

The Red Wolves’ offense ranks No. 26 in total offense (450.18 yards per game), No. 31 in scoring offense (32.45 points per game), No. 48 in rushing offense (167.64 yards per game) and No. 40 in red zone offense. Aplin, a junior, is No. 11 nationally in total offense (313.08 yards per game), No. 28 in total passing yards (2,879), No. 21 in passing (22.64 completions per game) and No. 25 in passing yards per game (261.73).

The NCAA’s highest-scoring bowl game was played in the then-GMAC Bowl in 2001, with Marshall overcoming a 30-point halftime deficit to beat East Carolina 64-61 in double overtime. Offense has always been a key factor in previous Bowl games.

“We still hold the record for the highest scoring game in college bowl history and are looking forward to the possibility of breaking that record this year with Arkansas State and Northern Illinois” said Silverstein.

Teams are slated to arrive in Mobile on Wednesday, January 4. Once again, the Bowl will feature a week of activities along with the game itself. The Bowl Mayor’s Luncheon will feature guest speaker Cris Carter, ESPN analyst and former NFL great, on Friday, January 6, and the Greer’s/Press-Register Mardi Gras Parade, Press-Register Pep Rally, Spectronics Fireworks Show and Press-Register Street Party will all be held on Saturday, January 7.