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Filed under: Bowl Open Thread

The final bowl game before the BCS National Championship game is the venerable Bowl. Can you feel the excitement?

Jan. 6, 2013 | 9:00 PM ET

Kent St

(11-2, 8-0 MAC)

Arkansas St

(9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)

Are you ready for Monday's BCS national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame, two of the storiest of storied programs in college football?

Not so fast, my friend. There's one more bowl game before we get to that much anticipated game. The Bowl is being played in Mobile, Alabama, between the Golden Flashes of Kent State and the Red Wolves of Arkansas State.

Feel the excitement? No? Maybe the Worldwide Leader's preview will pique your interest:

Both coaches for the teams in Bowl have left for other jobs, although one of them will be sticking around for the penultimate game of the bowl season.

Darrell Hazell will coach his final game for No. 25 Kent State on Sunday night when it takes on Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State, which makes its second straight appearance in this bowl.

It's not unusual for teams in this Mobile, Ala., game to be dealing with coaching changes, with this marking the fifth straight year that at least one coach has been unavailable after taking another job, but it's the first time other schools have hired both.

Hazell has accepted the job at Purdue, but he wanted the opportunity to try to lead Kent State (11-2) to its first-ever bowl victory. This is the school's first postseason appearance since losing to Tampa in the Tangerine Bowl in 1972, when Alabama coach Nick Saban played for the Golden Flashes.

"I had two goals when I went to Kent State," Hazell said. "One was to win a (Mid-American Conference) championship, and the other was to go to a bowl game, so this is too big to miss."

The Golden Flashes' only other bowl was a loss to Delaware in the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl.

"Making history at Kent State, that's a big thing for all of us to leave all our names behind," tight end Tim Erjavec said. "And we have a chance to make history to win the first bowl game at Kent State so that's something we're really looking forward to do."

Arkansas State (9-3) won't have coach Gus Malzahn, who will take over at Auburn. The Red Wolves were 10-2 last season heading into this bowl when Hugh Freeze departed to coach Mississippi, and they lost 38-20 to Northern Illinois.

Defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as Arkansas State's interim coach this time. Malzahn will take offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee with him to Auburn, but Lashlee will serve in that position for this contest.

"I am thrilled that coach Lashlee will be our offensive coordinator for the bowl game, and I know he has embraced this opportunity," Thompson said. "At this point, our offensive and defensive staffs remain intact."

The departures created an unusual situation at the Dec. 13 Bowl news conference with no head coaches available to represent these programs.

Arkansas State has hired former Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin to replace Malzahn.

Interested? I thought so.

This is your official Bowl Open Thread. Let's see if we can reach double digit comments!