Blake Anderson’s Arkansas State Red Wolves used an attacking defense, big pass plays, and opportunistic special teams to beat the UCF Knights in the 2016 Cure Bowl 31-13. This was a game dominated thoroughly by defenses and marred by penalty flags but ASU found a way to create enough offense that it would give the game its MVP. ASU snapped a two game bowl losing streak and beat an AAC opponent that it was a touchdown underdog against by 18.
WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD D?
Both teams came into the game honest about how important the role their defense’s would play in it but its hard to imagine anyone seeing this coming.
- Both teams only converted 3 third downs apiece on a combined 35 attempts.
- ASU finished with nine first downs and 29 yards rushing. UCF had more first downs (16)that rushing yards (12). The combined 41 yards is an FBS bowl record for lowest combined rushing total.
- The Red Wolves tallied 6 sacks and kept constant pressure in the UCF backfield all night.
- The two teams combined for 22 punts and 25 penalties.
- Arkansas State won the turnover battle 3 to 1 and scored 14 points off those turnovers.
SO OF COURSE THE GAME MVP WAS AN OFFENSIVE PLAYER...
Meet your 2016 MVP senior WR Kendall Sanders from Arkansas State. In this defensive slugfest he managed to carve out season highs in yards(127) and touchdowns(3). QB Justice Hansen connected with Sanders 5 times including the 3 TD receptions of 12, 17, and 75. QB Justice Hansen went 12 of 26 for 205 yards with Sanders catches accounting for most of the production.
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
Apparently there was a feeling among the ASU players that UCF didn't participate in bowl week activities with the same gusto as the Red Wolves did. Then there was a snub on the pregame coin toss handshake that left the Red Wolves feeling disrespected.