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Arizona Bowl pits No. 19 San Jose State against Ball State

December 30, 2020 GMT
San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel (17) hands off to running back Tyler Nevens (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Boise State for the Mountain West championship, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel (17) hands off to running back Tyler Nevens (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Boise State for the Mountain West championship, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Arizona Bowl: No. 19 San Jose State (7-0) vs. Ball State (6-1), at Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona, Thursday, 2 p.m. EST (CBS).

Line: San Jose State by 10.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Both teams are looking to cap breakthrough seasons with a win. San Jose State is having its best season since going 13-0 in 1939 and won its first Mountain West Conference title with a 34-20 win over Boise State in the championship game. Ball State won its final six games and beat Buffalo 38-28 to win its first Mid-American championship since 1996. The Cardinals are seeking their first win in a bowl game.

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KEY MATCHUP

San Jose State’s defense vs. Ball State QB Drew Plitt. The Spartans were 13th in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing 17.9 points per game, and held teams to 227.1 yards passing per game. Plitt threw for 1,947 yards and 16 TDs with six interceptions this season. He accounted for 15 TDs in Ball State’s final three games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

San Jose State: DT Cade Hall. San Jose State’s junior pass rushing specialist finished second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 10 sacks and had 12 tackles for loss. Hall had a sack in the Spartans’ first five games and had three in a win over UNLV.

Ball State: WR Justin Hall. The senior has been one of the best receivers in Ball State history during his four seasons in Muncie. He leads all active FBS players with 257 career receptions, a Ball State record, and has at least one catch in all 43 games he’s played. Hall had 49 catches for 665 yards and fourth TDs in 2020.

FACTS & FIGURES

San Jose State has won its last four bowl games, the last a 27-16 win over Georgia State in the 2015 Cure Bowl. ... Ball State can win consecutive games over ranked opponents for the first time after beating No. 23 Buffalo in the MAC title game. ... The Spartans are one of five undefeated FBS schools. ... The Cardinals held Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson, the nation’s leader at 205 yards per game, to 47 yards on 18 carries in the MAC title game.

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