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2013 Bowl picks and predictions: Kent State favored by experts, not odds makers

The Kent State Golden Flashes are underdogs, but the picks are generally in their favor.

Dave Reginek

The Arkansas State Red Wolves enter Sunday's 2013 Bowl as a slight, 3.5-point favorite over the No. 25 Kent State Golden Flashes, but you wouldn't know that by the picks of the experts. Many expect the 11-2 Golden Flashes to bounce back from a double-overtime loss in their season finale to Northern Illinois to beat the Red Wolves and earn a bowl victory.

Among those experts is Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, who predicts that Kent State will win, but suggests that Darrell Hazell's presence at the game could be valuable to the Golden Flashes: Bowl: Jan. 6, Kent State (+4) vs. Arkansas State -- Kent State is unique in that it's head coach is leaving, but still coaching the bowl game. Darrell Hazell is off to Purdue when this game ends. His team, making its first bowl appearance in 40 years, sends him off a winner.

John Tamanaha of NBC Sports' College Football Talk predicts a three-point victory for Kent State, 33-30. Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated also predicted a three-point victory for Kent State, taking the Golden Flashes to win, 37-34.

Newly hired Purdue coach Darrell Hazell has stayed on to coach the Flashes, while Arkansas State's Gus Malzahn has moved on to Auburn. Both offenses should move the ball at will, but Kent State's rushing tandem of Dri Archer (104 yards per game) and Trayion Durham (96.0) will help break a few more big plays than David Oku (85.3) and the Red Wolves.

However, it wasn't unanimous in favor of the Golden Flashes, as ESPN's Will Harris picked Arkansas State to earn a close victory, 28-27. He only wagered two confidence points on the Red Wolves, though.

Kent has weapons of its own in speedster Dri Archer and bruiser Trayion Durham, but what narrowly tips the scales in favor of the Wolves is a solid rush defense that's held its past five opponents under 100 yards and matches up well with the Flashes' one-dimensional ground attack.

Kickoff in Mobile, Alabama is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.