Louisiana (8-2) at ASU (7-2) in-depth preview
ASU (7-2, 5-0) vs. Louisiana (8-2, 6-1)
2 p.m. Saturday at ASU Stadium, Jonesboro
Radio: EAB Sports Radio Network (107.9 FM Jonesboro, 88.3 FM Little Rock)
Live Stats: AStateRedWolves.com
ON TAP: Arkansas State will put its unblemished 4-0 home record on the line at 2 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette in a key Sun Belt Conference showdown between two teams in the Top 50 BCS rankings. The game will be televised by ESPN3.com, and every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area. 88.3 FM in Little Rock and via AStateRedWolves.com.
THE PRINCIPALS: A-State secured its first winning season since 1995 last week and remained undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play with a 39-21 road victory at Florida Atlantic. Louisiana is playing its final Sun Belt Conference game this season, bringing a 6-1 record into a game that has major implications on the Sun Belt Conference race. Both teams are ranked among the Top 50 in the BCS (A-State No. 41, UL No. 50) and in the CBSSports.com 120 (A-State No. 33, UL No. 36). The Red Wolves are 4-0 at home this season, while the Ragin' Cajuns are 3-2 in road contests.
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: With ASU picking up its seventh win last week at Florida Atlantic, Hugh Freeze has now recorded the most victories ever by a head coach in his first season at Arkansas State. 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). He has tied Dale (1931-32) as the fastest coach to seven wins in school history.
THE ASU-LOUISIANA SERIES: Arkansas State holds an all-time on-field record of 17-21-1 against Louisiana in the series that dates back to the 1953 season. As Sun Belt Conference opponents, the Ragin' Cajuns lead the series 6-3. UL has won the last two games, including a 31-24 win in Lafayette last season. The home team has won nine of the last 10 meetings. Nine of the last 11 meetings have been decided by six points or less, including the last three years. Saturday's game will be the 40th meeting all-time between ASU and Louisiana. ASU's 39 games played against the Ragin' Cajuns are the second most against any opponent in school history.
FAMILIAR FOE: While Arkansas State and Louisiana have both played as members of the Sun Belt Conference since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, it is not the first time the two teams have shared a league. The Red Wolves and Ragin' Cajuns were both members of the Big West Conference from 1993 to 1995 and the Southland Conference from 1971 to 1981.
A-STATE vs. SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is 68-63-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 39-36 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 34-32 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 is 2-5 all-time when playing on Nov. 12 with wins over Tennessee Tech in 1955 and Troy in 2005. ASU is 2-0 on the date when scoring 20-plus points, but has never scored more than 27 in a game on this date and has been held under 10 five times.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State climbed from No. 37 to No. 33 in the CBSSports.com 120 rankings after improving to 7-2 with its 39-21 victory over Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves are also No. 41 in the latest BCS rankings. A-State also received a vote in the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll for the first time in its history as an NCAA FBS member.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Give the Red Wolves their best record through 10 games since 1986 when it was 8-1-1 as a member of the I-AA Southland Conference . . . Give the Red Wolves their first ever 6-0 conference record as a member of any league . . . Give the Red Wolves their first seven game winning streak since 1986 when they actually won eight in a row . . . Give the Red Wolves their most overall victories at any level since 1987 . . . Give the Red Wolves at least 5 home victories for the first time since 2007.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: Arkansas State 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). Arkansas State's last appearance in a bowl game was 2005 when it played Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl.
MOST WINS AS AN FBS MEMBER: Arkansas State has recorded its most victories ever as an FBS member with seven, topping the previous best of six wins in 1995, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The last time the Red Wolves won seven games in a season was 1987 when it finished the year 8-4-1 as an NCAA I-AA member.
THROUGH NINE: Arkansas State not only holds its best record ever as an FBS member through nine games, but its best since 1986 when it was 7-1-1 as a member of the I-AA Southland Conference. The last time ASU was 8-2 or better through 10 games was 1986 as well when it held an 8-1-1 record.
ON A ROLL: ASU has won six consecutive games for the first time since 1986 when it actually claimed eight straight victories. The Red Wolves' six-game winning streak ties them with Cincinnati for the 10th longest in the nation. The teams with a longer winning streak than A-State include Stanford (17), LSU (10), Boise State (10), Oklahoma State (10), Houston (9), Penn State (8), Oregon (8), Southern Miss (7) and Georgia (7).
UNDEFEATED IN CONFERENCE: Arkansas State holds a 5-0 Sun Belt Conference record for the first time in school history. Prior to this season, the Red Wolves' best start in SBC play was 3-0 in 2008 and 2006. The last time ASU was 5-0 or better in any league was 1986 when it posted a 5-0 Southland Conference record for the year. ASU has never been 6-0 or better in any conference.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Red Wolves have won three consecutive games on the road for the first time since 1986. The victories also marked the first time in school history that ASU won three consecutive road games against Sun Belt opponents. ASU's three total road wins are its most for an entire season since 2006.
1 OF 9: Arkansas State is one of just nine teams in the nation ranked among the top 30 in both total offense and defense. The Red Wolves are No. 20 in total defense (324.7 ypg) and No. 27 in total offense (446.6 ypg). The other teams ranked in the top 30 in both total offense and total defense include Stanford, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Boise State, Utah State, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio.
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.
DOUBLE DIGITS: Arkansas State has won five games by a double-figure margin this season, which is its most since 1987. ASU has won its last three games by at least 18 points and holds an average scoring margin of +11.5 points per game (31.3 to 19.8). The last time A-State won six 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 14 statistical categories, including total offense (27) and total defense (20). ASU also ranks in the top 50 in tackles for loss (15), sacks (14), net punting (29), pass offense (22), pass efficiency defense (25), scoring defense (21), pass defense (37), punt returns (49), interceptions (15), scoring offense (42), pass efficiency (48) and rushing defense (28).
SUN BELT PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Arkansas State has had four players named a Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week a combined five times. 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 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 Peformance Awards this season. Sophomore kicker Brian Davis has been named the CFPA's national placekicker of the week as well.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 4-0 home record this season, Arkansas State has secured its seventh consecutive winning record at ASU Stadium, dating back to 2005. ASU is now 29-7 at ASU Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at ASU Stadium is 121-70-1 since it opened in 1974. With one more home win, ASU will tie its most at ASU Stadium since 2007.
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 23,281, which is 2,000 more than the school record of 21,105 set in 2008. ASU's average attendance of 23,281 is the second highest in the Sun Belt Conference.
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.
TV TIME: It was announced last week that ESPN selected Arkansas State's Nov. 12 football game against Louisiana-Lafayette, scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff at ASU Stadium, to be televised on ESPN3.com.
Arkansas State has already played six televised games this season, and now has at least two more slated for television. In addition to the Louisiana-Lafayette game, the Red Wolves' game at Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19 is also scheduled as an ESPN3.com broadcast. A-State's regular-season finale at ASU Stadium against Troy on Dec. 3 could also be selected for television.
The Red Wolves set a school record with 10 televised games last year, and 2011 marks the third consecutive season with at least eight televised contests for A-State. ASU also hosted a nationally-televised game at ASU Stadium for the second consecutive year in 2011, defeating Florida International 34-16 on ESPN2.
APLIN HONORED: Ryan Aplin was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after running for a career-high four touchdowns and passing for another in ASU's victory over Florida Atlantic. Aplin was also named a CFPA Honorable Mention National Quarterback of the Week for his efforts against the Owls.
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 five games, over 500 in three games and over 600 in two. ASU?is averaging 446.6 yards per game, which puts them on pace to go over 5,000 yards total offense for the first time in school history.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: A-State has recorded at least 30 points in five games this season, including the last three in a row, and is on pace to finish the regular season with the fourth most points in school history (376). ASU scored 30-plus points in five games last year, which tied the 2007 team for the most since 1987 when it eclipsed 30 in six games. ASU is ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 42 in the nation in scoring offense (31.3 ppg).
GROUND ATTACK: Arkansas State has recorded four 200-yard rushing games this season and holds a 4-0 record in those games. The Red Wolves' four 200-yard games are their most in a single season since 2008 when it had five.
300-PLUS: Dating back to last season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 20 of its last 21 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.
BIG HITTERS: Arkansas State has recorded at least one play covering 40 yards or more in seven of its nine games. The Red Wolves have 11 plays, including nine passing, of 40 yards or more for all eight games combined. Four different players have caught a pass for at least 40 yards, including Dwayne Frampton, Josh Jarboe, Taylor Stockemer and Frankie Jackson. ASU's longest pass was a 71-yard completion from Ryan Aplin to Jarboe, and its longest rush was 48 yards by Jackson.
NEARING A MILESTONE: Junior QB Ryan Aplin needs 182 yards to become just the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to record 3,000 yards total offense in two different seasons. The only player that has currently accomplished the feat is FAU's Rusty Smith in 2007 and 2008.
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 (6,187) and also one of just three to post over 7,000 yards of total offense (7,083). He is also ranked third all-time in completions (533) and third in TD?passes (35).
ECLIPSING 200/300: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin has passed for at least 200 yards 18 times during his career, and all 18 games have come over his last 23 played. ?Aplin has recorded over 300 yards of total offense 10 times during his career, including the Illinois, UCA, WKU, FIU and North Texas games this season.
APPROACHING A SCHOOL RECORD: Senior WR Dwayne Frampton enters Saturday's game needing just nine receptions to break the school record for a single season. He currently has 64 receptions, leaving him just short of Robert Kilow's school-record 72 in 2000. Frampton is the only player in ASU history to record 60+ receptions in two different seasons (64 in 2011 and 69 in 2010).
THREE OVER 100: Senior WR Dwayne Frampton has posted three 100-yard receiving games, including a career-high 147 against Louisiana-Monroe. All three games were played consecutively against UCA (100), WKU (126) and ULM. Frampton also had 99 receiving yards in the season opener at Illinois. For the entire year, he is ranked tied for 15th in the nation in receptions (7.1 pg) and 33rd in receiving yards (86.3 ypg). Frampton is 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 1,515 yards to rank sixth in school history, while Stockemer has posted 1,360 yards to rank eighth.
FRAMPTON EXTENDS STREAK: Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton caught 10 passes last week against Florida Atlantic, extending his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 21. He has caught a pass in every game he has played at A-State. Frampton is ranked tied for 15th in the nation in receptions (7.1 rpg).
CAREER DAY: Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton recorded a school-record 13 receptions for a career-high 147 yards and one touchdown earlier this year against ULM. Frampton's 13 receptions topped his previous school record of 12, set last season at Indiana. His 147 receiving yards tied the 15th most in school history.
MANNING AWARD STAR OF THE WEEK: Following his performance in Arkansas State's 47-3 victory over Memphis, quarterback Ryan Aplin was selected as one of eight quarterbacks from across the nation to be named to the Manning Award Stars of the Week list. Aplin completed 19-of-21 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over the Tigers. His completion rate of 90.5 percent was the second highest in school and Sun Belt Conference history.
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.
RIMINGTON AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior center Tom Castilaw is on the 2011 Rimington Award Watch List issued annually to the nation's top center, making him the second ASU player to ever earn the preseason recognition. Tanner Jenkins was also on the list in 2006. Castilaw was a 2010 Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection after starting the final 11 games of the season.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton and junior wide receiver Josh Jarboe are the first player in school history to ever be named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for the nation's top receiver.
SCORING DEFENSE: The Arkansas State defense has held four opponents under 20 points, including three of the last four, this season. This year marked the first time since 1987 ASU held three consecutive opponents under 20 points. The last time A-State held four opponents to less than 20 points over the course of an entire season was 2008, and the last time it held five under 20 was 2002. ASU is No. 21 in the nation and No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense (19.8 ppg).
STINGY DEFENSE: The ASU defense has held four opponents under 300 yards total defense, including the last three in a row, and six under 350 yards. The last time ASU held six teams under 350 yards of total offense was 2008 when it did so eight times.
FORCING TURNOVERS: While Arkansas State's 18 total turnovers gained are the third most in the Sun Belt Conference for the entire
season, no team has more takeaways than ASU in league games only. ASU has 13 total turnovers gained, including nine interceptions and four fumble recoveries, against SBC competition. North Texas has 12 to make it the closest team to ASU's total, and two other teams (UL and WKU) have played more conference games.
STOPPING THE RUN: The ASU defense is currently allowing just 3.3 yards per rush and 119.9 rushing yards per game, which would both rank tied for the fourth lowest average 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. 28 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 12 over the last seven to climb to rank 15th in the nation. Darryl Feemster and Kelcie McCray each have a team-high three interceptions over that span, while Qushaun Lee and Darron Edwards both have 2. Sterling Young and Justin Robertson both have one. ASU has recorded at least one interception in each of the last seven games.
YOUNG STEPPING UP: Since joining the starting lineup three games ago, redshirt freshman safety Sterling Young has averaged 7.3 tackles per game and recorded a team-best 22 total tackles. He posted a career-high 10 tackles last game 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. 14 in the nation and No. 1 in the SBC in sacks (2.98 per game) and No. 15 in the nation and No. 2 in the SBC in tackles for loss (7.56 per game). With at least three games left, ASU has already tied its 2008 TFL total with 68 and needs only one more sack to match that total of 27.
GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK: Dating back to last season, senior defensive end Brandon Joiner has recorded at least a partial sack in 11 of ASU's last 14 games. In fact, 11.0 of his 11.5 career sacks at A-State have come over the Red Wolves last 14 games. He has at least a partial sack in seven of ASU's first nine games this season. Joiner recorded a career-high 2.5 sacks against Middle Tennessee in the 10th game of last year.
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."