ASU rides 8-game winning streak into regular-season finale vs. Troy
Troy (3-8, 2-5) at ASU (9-2, 7-0)
3:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: EAB Sports Radio Network (107.9 FM, flagship) TV: Sun?Belt Network
Live Stats: AStateRedWolves.com, TapStats
ON TAP: Arkansas State carries an eight-game winning streak, currently the nation's fourth longest, and a 7-0 league record into its "Senior Day" game against Troy on Saturday. The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by the Sun Belt Network. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area and 88.3 FM in Central Arkansas. The live radio broadcast can also be accessed through the Arkansas State athletic Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
ASU coach Hugh Freeze
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State has already secured a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship and accepted an official invitation to play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 8. The Red Wolves can win the league title outright with a victory over Troy and become just the third school to every go undefeated in Sun Belt play in the process. While A-State brings an eight-game winning streak into Saturday's contest, Troy has dropped six of its last seven games after starting the season 2-2. The Trojans suffered a 41-18 setback last week at Western Kentucky, one game after defeating Florida Atlantic 34-7. While Troy holds a 3-8 record this season, the Trojans have won at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference title the last five years.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Give the Red Wolves the outright Sun Belt Conference championship . . . Make the Red Wolves just the third school to ever go undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play . . . Give the Red Wolves their best record through 12 games since 1986 when it was 10-1-1 as a member of the I-AA Southland Conference . . . Give the Red Wolves 10 wins in a season for the first time since 1986 . . . Give the Red Wolves their first ever 8-0 conference record as a member of any league . . . Give the Red Wolves an eight-game conference winning streak for the first time since 1985-86 . . . Give the Red Wolves their first nine-game winning streak since 1975 . . . Give the Red Wolves their first undefeated home season since 2005 . . . Snap a four-game skid against Troy.
MOST WINS AS AN FBS MEMBER: Arkansas State has recorded its most victories ever as an FBS member with nine, topping the previous best of six wins in 1995, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The last time the Red Wolves won nine games at any level was 1986 when it posted a 12-2-1 record and finished as the NCAA I-AA runner-up.
THROUGH 11: Arkansas State not only holds its best record ever as an FBS?member through 11 games, but its best since 1986 when it was 9-1-1 as a member of the I-AA?Southland Conference. The last time ASU?was 10-2 or better through 12 games was 1986 as well when it held a 10-1-1 record.
HEAD COACH HUGH FREEZE: After enjoying successful stints as both a head and assistant coach at the NCAA?FBS, NAIA and high school levels over the last 18 years, Hugh Freeze was named Arkansas State's 27th head football coach on Dec. 2, 2010. Freeze most recently completed his first season as Arkansas State's offensive coordinator, guiding the Red Wolves' offense to a record-breaking year in 2010.
FAST START: Hugh Freeze has recorded the most victories ever by a head coach in his first season at Arkansas State with nine. ?Out of 27 all-time head coaches at A-State, Freeze is one of just four to win at least six games in his first season, joining Steve Roberts (2002), Gene Harlow (1955) and Jack Dale (1931). Freeze is also the fastest ASU?coach to ever win nine games.
FIRST-YEAR VICTORIES: With a victory against Troy, Hugh Freeze can become just the 14th FBS?first-year head coach to ever win 10 regular season games. The coaches that have accomplished the feat include:
Chris Peterson 12 wins at Boise State in 2006
Larry Coker 11 wins at Miami in 2001
Bret Bielema 11 wins at Wisconsin in 2006
Gary Blackney 10 wins at Bowling Green in 1991
John Robinson 10 wins at USC?in 1976
Bill Battle 10 wins at Tennessee in 1970
Jeff Jagodzinski 10 wins at Boston College in 2007
Gregg Brandon 10 wins at Bowling Green in 2003
Barry Switzer 10 wins at Oklahoma in 1973
John Jenkins 10 wins at Houston in 1990
Dwight Wallace 10 wins at Ball State in 1978
Ralph Friedgen 10 wins at Maryland in 2001
Chip Kelly 10 wins at Oregon in 2009
LIBERTY MUTUAL COACH OF THE YEAR: ASU?head coach Hugh Freeze was 21st in the nation in voting for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year as of Monday. He was one place behind East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill and one ahead of Nebraska's Bo Pelini in the voting. Fans can vote for Freeze using the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year link(s) located on AStateRedWolves.com.
GODADDY.COM BOWL: Arkansas State accepted an official invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl following its victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19, placing the Red Wolves in a bowl game for the first time since 2005 when they played Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl in Lafayette, La. ASU?is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, but for the fourth time over the last seven seasons. ASU reached bowl eligibility after just eight games, making this year the earliest ASU has ever been bowl eligible as an FBS?member (since 1992).
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State has already claimed at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship, but can win the title outright with a victory Saturday. Including 2011, Arkansas State has won eight conference championships all-time. ASU?won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968). ASU also won the 2005 Sun?Belt Conference championship, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
SENIOR DAY: The Red Wolves will hold their annual Senior Day this Saturday, recognizing their senior class for their contributions to Arkansas State University and the football program. This year's 24 seniors are: Graham Bates, Elroy Brown, Najel Byrd, Tom Castilaw, Demario Davis, Darryl Feemster, Dwayne Frampton, Darron Edwards, Jeremy Gibson, Rod Hall, Brandon?Joiner, Alex Kauti, Jaquan Kilcrease, Derek Lawson, Greg McCall, Kelcie McCray, Delano Moore, Trey Outlaw, Jermaine Robertson, Justin Robertson, Alfonzo Simmons, Neely Sullivent, James Williams and Dorvus Woods.
THE ARKANSAS STATE-TROY SERIES: The Arkansas State-Troy all-time series is tied 5-5. The Red Wolves and Trojans first met back in 1951 when ASU picked up a 39-0 road victory. The two teams split a pair of games in 1991 and 1992 in Jonesboro, but have played the last seven games as Sun Belt Conference foes. The Red Wolves won the first three games as SBC opponents, but the Trojans have bounced back to win the last four meetings that includes a 35-28 victory last season in Troy.
A-STATE vs. SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is 70-63-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 41-36 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 36-32 since 2001. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 19. The Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed in 2001.
ON THIS DATE: Arkansas State will play on Dec. 3 for just the second time in school history, holding a 1-0 record on the date with a 24-20 victory over Western Kentucky in 2009. In fact, ASU?has played just 14 games all-time in the month of December, holding a 6-8 record in those games. ?The last time ASU played a home game in the month of December was 1987.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State is No. 30 in the CBSSports.com 120 rankings following its open week. The Red Wolves are also No. 34 in the latest BCS?rankings. Additionally, A-State is receiving votes in the USA?Today Top 25 Coaches Poll (13 votes) and AP?Top 25 Poll (18 votes) for the first time in its history as an NCAA?FBS?member (since 1992).
ON A ROLL: ASU has won eight consecutive games for the first time since 1986. The last time A-State won nine straight games was 1975 when it posted an 11-0 record. The Red Wolves' eight-game winning streak is the fourth longest in the nation. The teams with a longer winning streak than A-State include LSU (13), Houston (12) and Georgia (10).
UNDEFEATED IN CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is just the third school in Sun Belt Conference history to ever start 7-0 in the league. The only other schools to accomplish the feat finished the season undefeated in league play, including Troy in 2009 (8-0) and North Texas in 2004 (7-0) and 2003 (7-0). The Mean Green also went undefeated in league play in 2002 with a 6-0 record.
CONFERENCE WINNING STREAK: Arkansas State's seven-game conference winning streak is its longest since the 1985-86 seasons when it won 10 in a row as a member of the Southland Conference. The Red Wolves' conference winning streak is also currently tied for the fourth longest in the nation.
TOP TURNAROUNDS: Arkansas State is currently tied for the nation's second highest turnaround in wins, posting nine this year after finishing 2010 with four. The Red Wolves are 5 1/2 games improved, which is the second most in the nation. Houston leads the nation in both win differential (7) and games improved (7).
ROAD WARRIORS: The Red Wolves won four consecutive games on the road for the first time since 1975. ASU's four total road wins are its most for an entire season since 1986.
1 OF 6: Arkansas State is one of just six teams in the nation ranked among the top 26 in both total offense and defense. The Red Wolves are No. 18 in total defense (321.3 ypg) and No. 26 in total offense (450.2 ypg). The other teams ranked in the top 26 in both total offense and total defense include Stanford, Boise State, Wisconsin, Southern Miss and West Virginia.
1 OF 2: Arkansas State is one of just two FBS?teams in the nation leading its conference in both total offense and total defense. The only other school leading its league in both is Boise State of the Mountain West Conference.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH: Arkansas State has outscored its opponents 97-31 in the fourth quarter this season. The Red Wolves have been outscored only once in the fourth quarter all season, and that came by a one-point margin in the North Texas game. ASU has not allowed a fourth-quarter score in six games, including four of the last five. No team has scored more than eight points against A-State in the fourth quarter, while the Red Wolves have scored at least 16 fourth-quarter points in four of their last eight games.
GRABBING AN EARLY LEAD: Arkansas State has opened up a double-figure lead in the first quarter its last four games in a row, outscoring its opponents 54-2 over that span. During its eight-game winning streak, ASU?has scored first six times.
DOUBLE DIGITS: Arkansas State has won six games by a double-figure margin this season, which is its most since 1987. ASU has won four of its last five games by at least 18 points and holds an average scoring margin of +12.7 points per game (32.5 to 19.8). The last time A-State won seven games by a double-digit margin was 1987 as well.
TOP 50: Arkansas State is ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation in 15 statistical categories, including total offense (26) and total defense (18). ASU also ranks in the top 50 in interceptions (10), tackles for loss (11), sacks (15), pass efficiency defense?(17), rushing defense (18), scoring defense (18), passing offense (21), scoring offense (31), turnover margin (37), net punting (37), pass efficiency (45) and pass defense (47).
SUN BELT PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Arkansas State has had five players named a Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week a combined six times. Senior defensive end Brandon?Joiner won the award most recently on Nov. 14 following the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Senior safety Kelcie McCray (Defensive) and junior defensive back Don?Jones (Special Teams) earned the recognition on Oct. 10 following the ULM?game. Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named the Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 3 and Nov. 7 following the WKU and FAU?games, respectively. Sophomore kicker Brian Davis the Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 26 following the UCA game.
CFPA RECOGNITION: Senior WR?Dwayne Frampton, senior safety Kelcie McCray, junior punter Ryan Wilbourn, senior punter Neely Sullivent, senior WR?Josh Jarboe, junior QB?Ryan Aplin and senior LB?Demario Davis have all been national honorable mention selections at their respective position by the College Football Performance Awards this season. Senior defensive end Brandon Joiner was also named the CFPA national defensive performer of the week. Sophomore kicker Brian Davis has been named the CFPA's national placekicker of the week and an honorable mention choice at the position as well.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 5-0 home record this season, Arkansas State has secured its seventh consecutive winning record at ASU?Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU?is now 30-7 at ASU?Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at ASU?Stadium is 122-70-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU's five home wins this season are its most since 2007. The last time the Red Wolves went undefeated at home was 2005 (5-0).
CROWD SUPPORT: Arkansas State's first two home games this season were played in front of the largest back-to-back crowds in ASU?Stadium history. The 29,872 in attendance for the Memphis game made it the second largest crowd in ASU?Stadium history and the 27,918 announced for the UCA game was the fourth largest. The Red Wolves current average home attendance is 22,677, which is over 1,500 more than the school record of 21,105 set in 2008. ASU's average attendance of 21,105 is the second highest in the Sun Belt Conference.
NICE CROWD IN NOVEMBER: The attendance for the Arkansas State-UL?Lafayette game was 20,261, making it the largest crowd ever for November game at ASU?Stadium.
MIDSEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: A-State placed 11 players on Phil Steele's Midseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Three ASU?players were first team selections, including senior center Tom Castilaw who was also an honorable mention All-America choice by the publication. ASU's other first team selections were senior WR?Dwayne Frampton and senior DE?Brandon?Joiner. A-State's second team selections included WR?Josh Jarboe, CB?Darryl Feemster and safety A.J. Hills. Third team choices included OL?Delano Moore, LB?Demario Davis, safety Kelcie McCray and kicker Brian Davis.
97th SEASON UNDER WAY: Arkansas State kicked off off its 97th season of football on Sept. 3 at Illinois. ASU?now holds a 414-453-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and has played in seven bowl games. A-State did not field a football team from 1942-44 due to World War II. ASU?also didn't have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending.
TV TIME: Arkansas State has already played eight televised games this season, and has its final two slated for television. With the addition of television for the Troy game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl set for national television, the Red Wolves will end their 2011 season with 10 televised games to match the school record set last season.
PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT RECOGNITION: Sixteen different ASU?players were named to at least one of the major preseason publication's preseason All-Sun Belt Conference teams. The Red Wolves had at least one player on a preseason all-conference squad at 12 different positions, including quarterback (Ryan Aplin), running back (Derek Lawson), wide receiver (Dwayne Frampton, Allen?Muse, Taylor Stockemer), center (Tom Castilaw), offensive tackle (James Williams), defensive tackle (Dorvus Woods, Amos Draper), linebacker (Demario?Davis, Nathan Herrold), defensive end (Brandon?Joiner), linebacker (Demario?Davis), cornerback (Darron?Edwards), safety (Kelcie McCray) and punt returner (Rod Hall).
PILING UP THE YARDS: The Arkansas State offense has recorded over 300 yards of total offense in all but one game, over 400 yards in six games, over 500 in four games and over 600 in two. ASU?is averaging 450.2 yards per game and needs just 48 yards to go over 5,000 yards total offense for the first time in school history. ASU already holds the school record for total offense in a season with 4,952 yards this season.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: A-State has recorded at least 30 points in seven games this season, including the last five in a row, and is on pace to finish the regular season with the fourth most points in school history (390). The last time ASU scored 30-plus points in seven games was 1951 (10 times). ASU is ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 31 in the nation in scoring offense (32.5 ppg).
GROUND ATTACK: Arkansas State has recorded five 200-yard rushing games this season and holds a 5-0 record in those games. The Red Wolves' five 200-yard games are their most in a single season since 2008 when it had five as well.
300-PLUS: Dating back to last season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 22 of its last 23 games. ASU's school-record 14 consecutive games with over 300 yards of total offense came to an end against Virginia Tech earlier this season when the Hokies limited the Red Wolves to 269 yards. ASU?posted over 300 yards of total offense in just six games the season prior to Hugh Freeze taking over as offensive coordinator in 2010.
MR. 3,000: Junior QB?Ryan Aplin is one of just two players in Sun Belt Conference history to record 3,000 yards total offense in two different seasons. ?Aplin currently has 3,449 yards of total offense this season, and he recorded 3,416 last season as a sophomore. The only other player that has accomplished the feat is FAU's Rusty Smith in 2007 and 2008.
NEARING MILESTONES: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin will enter Saturday's game needing just 61 passing yards to break his own school record of 2,939 yards. He also needs just four completions to break his own school record of 252. Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton needs just 10 more receptions to break the school record for career receptions (Robert Kilow, 158 from 1998-2000).
AMONG THE BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin, who holds the school record for passing yards in a game (438 at UL Lafayette in 2010), is one of just three players in ASU?history to record over 6,000 passing yards (6,707) and also one of just two to post over 8,000 yards of total offense (8,007). He is also ranked first all-time in completions (578) and third in TD?passes (39).
ECLIPSING 200/300: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin has passed for at least 200 yards 20 times during his career, and all 20 games have come over his last 25 played. ?Aplin has recorded over 300 yards of total offense 11 times during his career, including the Illinois, UCA, WKU, FIU, North Texas and Middle Tennessee games this season.
LAWSON NEARING 2,000: With two games remaining, senior RB?Derek Lawson needs 131 rushing yards to become the 12th player in ASU?history with 2,000 career yards. ?Lawson is ranked 14th in school history for career rushing yards with 1,869 to his credit.
BREAKING THE SCHOOL RECORD: Senior WR?Dwayne Frampton already has 80 receptions this season, breaking Robert?Kilow's old record of 72 in 2000. Frampton is the only player in ASU?history to record 60+ receptions in two different seasons (80 in 2011 and 69 in 2010).
THREE OVER 100: Senior WR?Dwayne Frampton has posted four 100-yard receiving games, including a career-high 147 against Louisiana-Monroe. Three games were played consecutively against UCA?(100), WKU?(126) and ULM. Frampton also had 99 receiving yards in the season opener at Illinois and 141 against Middle Tennessee. For the entire year, he is ranked 13th in the nation in receptions (7.3 pg) and 29th in receiving yards (88.4 ypg). Frampton was on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.
1,000 YARD CLUB: Junior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer and senior receiver Dwayne Frampton both went over 1,000 receiving yards for their careers this season. Stockemer accomplished the feat during the Virginia Tech game and Frampton against UCA. Frampton has a team-high 1,710 yards to rank fourth in school history, while Stockemer has posted 1,453 yards to rank seventh.
JARBOE HONORED: Following the Memphis game, junior wide receiver Josh Jarboe was selected as one of nine wide receivers from across the nation to be named to the honorable mention list for the College Football Performance Awards' Wide Receiver of the Week award. Jarboe hauled in seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Wolves' 47-3 victory over Memphis. Jarboe's 162 receiving yards ranked as the 10th-best single game performance all-time at ASU. His 162-yard performance was also the best by an ASU?player since 1999.
CAREER DAY: Senior DE?Brandon Joiner tied an Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference record with four sacks against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he also tied his personal career high with a team-best eight tackles. Joiner became the third ASU player and seventh Sun Belt player to ever post four sacks in a game. His four sacks total ties the most in the nation this season, joining six other players to post four in a game. Joiner recorded a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry as well. Joiner has now posted at least a partial sack in all but two games this year, and his 11 total on the season moves him into a tie for the second most in ASU history and a tie for the fifth most in Sun Belt history.
SCORING DEFENSE: The Arkansas State defense has held five opponents under 20 points, including four of the last six, this season. This year marked the first time since 1987 ASU held three consecutive opponents under 20 points. The last time A-State held five opponents to less than 20 points over the course of an entire season was 2002. ASU is No. 18 in the nation and No. 2 in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense (19.8 ppg).
STINGY DEFENSE: The ASU defense has held five opponents under 300 yards total offense, including four of the last five, and eight under 350 yards. ?The last time ASU held eight teams under 350 yards of total offense was 2008. ASU?is ranked No. 18 in the nation in total defense.
FORCING TURNOVERS: While Arkansas State's 24 total turnovers gained for the entire season are only one more than the next closest team in the Sun Belt, its 19 gained in league games are four more than the next closest. ASU has 16 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries this year.
STOPPING THE RUN: The ASU defense is currently allowing just 3.2 yards per rush and 111.4 rushing yards per game, which would rank as the fourth lowest and third lowest averages, respectively, in Sun Belt history if the season ended today. The Red Wolves have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this year and are ranked No. 18 in the nation in rushing defense.
PICK IT OFF: While the Red Wolves didn't record an interception in either of their first two games, they've now posted a combined 16 over the last nine to climb to rank tied for 10th in the nation. Darryl Feemster and Kelcie McCray each have a team-high 4 interceptions over that span and Darron Edwards has 3. Qushaun Lee has 2, while Sterling Young, Justin?Robertson and Demario Davis all have 1. ASU has recorded at least one interception in eight of the last nine games.
YOUNG STEPPING UP: Since joining the starting lineup five games ago, redshirt freshman safety Sterling Young has averaged 7.0 tackles per game and recorded a team-best 35 total tackles. ?He posted a career-high 10 tackles against FAU?to lead the ASU defense.
PLAYING BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: Arkansas State is ranked among the national leaders in both tackles for loss and sacks this season. The Red Wolves are No. 15 in the nation and No. 2 in the SBC in sacks (2.8 per game) and No. 11 in the nation and No. 1 in the SBC in tackles for loss (7.7 per game). With two games left, ASU already has its most sacks (31) and tackles for loss (84) since 2002.
GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK: Dating back to last season, senior defensive end Brandon Joiner has recorded at least a partial sack in 13 of ASU's?last 16 games. In fact, 14.5 of his 15.0 career sacks at A-State have come over the Red Wolves last 16 games. He has at least a partial sack in eight of ASU's first 11 games this season.
LOMBARDI AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior linebacker Demario Davis is the fifth player in school to be named to the Lombardi Award Watch List, issued to the top college lineman at the end of the season. Davis, a 2010 First Team All-Sun Belt choice, joins Alex Carrington (2009), Matt Mandich (2008), Tanner Jenkins (2006) and Garry Johnson?(2001 and 2002) as A-State players that have been named to the award's watch list.
DAVIS HONORED: After breaking the ASU?and Sun Belt Conference records for both field goals made in a game (6) and points scored by kick (23) during the Red Wolves' game against Central?Arkansas, sophomore kicker Brian Davis received numerous honors. Davis, who was only one field goal and one point shy tying NCAA records, was named a Lou Groza Star of the Week, the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Awards' National Placekicker of the Week. Davis was a perfect 6-of-6 on his field goal attempts and 5-of-5 on his extra point attempts.
FIRST TIME IN OVER A DECADE: Arkansas State returned a blocked punt for a TD during the ULM?game for the first time since 2000 (Sean Mitchell block and Danny Smith return against Richmond). Junior DB Don Jones blocked his first career punt and also returned it for a touchdown. It was ASU's first special teams score since Kevin Jones returned a punt for a TD against Memphis in 2007.
DIALING IT UP FROM LONG DISTANCE: Sophomore kicker Bobby Zalud kicked a career-best 56 yard field goal against Memphis that tied the third longest in school history and ties the longest in the NCAA this season. His 56-yard field goal is also the second longest in Sun Belt Conference history behind only a 57-yard make by North Texas' Jason Ball in 2001. Zalud also had a 49 yard field goal against both Illinois and FIU?and is now 5-of-8 on his field goal attempts this year with all five makes coming from over 40 yards.
THE RETURN GAME: Senior WR?Rod Hall finished the WKU with 46 kickoff return yards, making him the ninth player in school history to record over 1,000 career KO?return yards in a career. Senior WR?Dwayne Frampton had a career-long 43 yard punt return, which was also the longest by an ASU?player since 2008. ?His 50 yards total against WKU?was also the most of his career."