ASU schedule features six home games, $1 million trip to Va. Tech

ASU schedule features six home games, $1 million trip to Va. Tech

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 ASU coach Hugh Freeze
JONESBORO (3/1/11) - Arkansas State will play six home games, including non-conference matchups against longtime rival Memphis and in-state foe Central Arkansas, as part of its 2011 schedule that features a nationally-televised gamed at ASU Stadium and road contests at Illinois and Virginia Tech.

The Red Wolves will play six home games for the first time since 2007 when it completed the year 5-1 at ASU Stadium, and they will catch five teams that played in a bowl game in 2010, including Illinois, Virginia Tech, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and Troy.

ASU's game against the Golden Panthers will be played in front of a national-television audience on ESPN2.

"We are very excited about our 2011 football schedule, in particular our six home games that will give us a great opportunity to play in front of our fans," ASU head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I think finishing the regular season with four of six conference games at home is a great advantage for us as well. Certainly to open our home schedule in a rivalry atmosphere against Memphis, and then to follow that up two weeks later with an in-state opponent like UCA, makes this schedule even more attractive. We also get to play defending Sun Belt Conference champion Florida International at home on ESPN2, which will give us a great avenue to showcase where we are as a program."

Season tickets for ASU's 2011 campaign are on sale at the ASU Ticket Office at 870-972-ASU1, or online through A-State's official athletic web site AstateRedWolves.com.

2011 ASU SCHEDULE
Sept. 3 at Illinois Champaign, Ill.
SEPT. 10 MEMPHIS
Sept. 17 at Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va.
SEPT. 24 CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Oct. 1 at Western Kentucky* Bowling Green, Ky.
Oct. 8 at Louisiana-Monroe* Monroe, La.
Oct. 18 FLORIDA INT.* 7 p.m. ESPN2
OCT. 29 NORTH TEXAS*^
Nov. 5 at Florida Atlantic* Boca Raton, Fla.
NOV. 12 LA.-LAFAYETTE*
Nov. 19 at Middle Tennessee* Murfreesboro, Tenn.
DEC. 3 TROY*
*Sun Belt Conference Game
^Homecoming

A-State opens its 2011 campaign Sept. 3 at Illinois, which finished last season with a 7-6 overall record, 4-2 mark at home and a 38-14 victory over Baylor in the Texas Bowl. The game will be the third meeting between the two schools and the Red Wolves' sixth contest against a Big 10 opponent.

The Red Wolves and Fighting Illini last met during the 2002 season, with Illinois winning 59-7. ASU and Illinois also met in the 1999 season opener, with Illinois prevailing 41-3. Both games were played in Champaign at Memorial Stadium, which seats 62,870. Arkansas State's three other Big 10 opponents were Indiana in 2010, Iowa in 2009 and Minnesota in 1998.

A-State will return to Jonesboro for its home opener a week later, hosting Memphis in the 56th meeting between the schools since 1914. The Tigers snapped a two-game skid against the Red Wolves in 2008, the last game in a series that has featured some recent excitement. ASU won in 2006 at the Liberty Bowl on a deep pass as time expired and again in 2007 in Jonesboro when it overcame a 25-point halftime deficit. A-State also hosted Memphis in 2004 and set the ASU Stadium record for attendance with 30,427 people on hand.

While the Red Wolves' 2011 game against Memphis will conclude a four-year home-and-home series, a new two-year home-and-home series with the Tigers guarantees that ASU's oldest rivalry game will continue through at least 2013. A-State's next game will be at Virginia Tech on Sept. 17. ASU signed a one-million dollar contract, which matches the 2010 Auburn-game guarantee as the largest in school history, that will take the Red Wolves back to Lane Stadium/Worsham Field for the first time since the 2002 season. The game will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two teams, which previously met in 1994, 1997 and 2002.

The Hokies, coming off an 11-3 season that saw them compete in the Orange Bowl and finish No. 13 in the final BCS standings, are heading into their 47th season at Lane/Stadium Worsham Field. The stadium seats 66,233 and has sold out the last 81 games. Virginia Tech is one of three opponents from the ACC the Red Wolves have ever faced. ASU also played Miami in 1997 and North Carolina State in 2000.

ASU wraps up its non-conference slate with its second home game Sept. 24, when it hosts UCA for its first game against an in-state opponent since also playing the Bears in 1997. A-State and UCA have actually played 23 times since 1916, but will meet next year for just the third time since 1947. While UCA holds a 12-9-2 lead in the all-time series, ASU won both games played in the modern era. AState picked up a narrow 36-35 win in 1997 and defeated UCA 17-7 in 1996, both victories coming in Jonesboro.

Both the 1997 and 1996 games drew two of the largest crowds in ASU Stadium history. The crowd of 29,465 for the 1997 contest is the second largest in ASU Stadium history, behind only the 30,427 in attendance for the 2004 ASU-Memphis game. The crowd of 25,112 for the 1996 ASU-UCA game is the sixth largest in school history.

The Red Wolves open their Sun Belt Conference schedule with back-to-back road games Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe to complete the first half of their regular season, but will play four of their final six games at home. A-State will catch WKU in its first conference game Oct. 1 and then play ULM Oct. 8 in the 33rd all-time meeting between the schools.

Following its game against ULM, A-State will have an open week leading up to its second nationally-televised game in Jonesboro in as many years. The Red Wolves will play defending Sun Belt Conference co-champion Florida International, which wrapped up a 7-6 season last year with a 34-32 victory over Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

ASU defeated Middle Tennessee 51-24 last year during its first ever national-TV game at ASU Stadium. The Red Wolves remain at home the following week, hosting North Texas Oct. 29 in its 2011 Homecoming game. Arkansas State is 55-27-1 all-time in Homecoming contests and has won six in a row against Sun Belt Conference opponents.

While Arkansas State holds a 2-0 record against Florida Atlantic at ASU Stadium, it will be looking for its first ever road win against the Owls on Nov. 5. ASU defeated FAU 37-16 in Jonesboro last season, but is 0-3 against the Owls in Boca Raton since the two teams first met in 2005 as Sun Belt opponents.

Louisiana-Lafayette will come to Jonesboro Nov. 12 to play ASU for the 39th time. Other than Memphis, ASU has played Louisiana-Lafayette the most times among all opponents in school history. Holding a 21-17-1 advantage in the all-time series, the Ragin' Cajuns will come to Jonesboro Nov. 12 to play the Red Wolves for the 40th time.

ASU will play its final road game of the season at Middle Tennessee, catching the Blue Raiders Nov. 19 before its second open week of the year. While the Blue Raiders finished last season one game below .500 with a 6-7 record, they finished third in the Sun Belt Conference with a 5-3 record and played in the GoDaddy.com Bowl to end their year.

A-State will play Troy, which shared last year's Sun Belt Conference title with FIU and defeated Ohio 48-21 in the New Orleans Bowl, in its regular-season finale for the second time over the last three seasons. The Red Wolves will hold their Senior Day when they host the
Trojans on Dec. 3, which marks the first time since 2004 ASU will bring its regular-season to a close with a home game.

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