The white hot Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-3, 8-0) will head to the bayou as they face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-4, 6-2) in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, December 19. Louisiana Tech has won nine of the last ten meetings but they haven’t played since 1998; the Bulldogs beat the Red Wolves 69-21 on November 7, 1998 in the most recent meeting.
Arkansas State has won their last eight games after rolling past Texas State 55-17 at home on December 5. Louisiana Tech had their four game win streak come to an end with a 58-24 home loss to Southern Miss on November 28. With that loss, the Bulldogs missed a chance at the Conference USA title game. The game kicks off at 9:00 pm ET from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana and will be televised on ESPN. Louisiana Tech is currently a 2 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 67 points.
Free Pick on the Arkansas State Red Wolves +2
Arkansas State started the year 1-3 but rolled on to blitz their Sun Belt conference foes en route to their eight game win streak. The Red Wolves outgained the Bobcats 535-381, finished with 23 first downs while allowing 21 and forced three turnovers while committing only one of their own. Arkansas State scored on an interception return in the second quarter; the takeaways helped overcome the 32:34 to 27:26 advantage that Texas State held in the time of possession battle by jumping to a 27-7 halftime edge.
The Red Wolves are currently 76th in the nation in passing offense with 212.3 yards per contest while they are 14th in the nation with 235.8 yards per game on the ground. Arkansas State averages 41 points per game, which is currently 10th in the nation in scoring offense, but they have had issues in stopping the opposition as they are tied for 83rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 28.8 points per game. James Tabary has seen a fair amount of reps at quarterback; he’s completed 65 of 105 passes for 788 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. Fredi Knighten, who was the starter last season, has hit 122 of 223 passes for 1,698 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 358 yards and four scores on the ground. Michael Gordon is the team’s leading rusher with 164 carries for 1,055 yards and nine scores; Warren Wand (106 carries, 643 yards, 4 TD) and Johnston White (90 carries, 573 yards, team high 14 scores) are a pair of capable backs as well. JD McKissic is the team’s leading receiver and one of six Arkansas State players with double digit receptions; he has hauled in 49 passes for 499 yards and two touchdowns. Tres Houston (33 receptions, 568 yards, 10 TD), Dijon Paschal (27 catches, 524 yards, 3 TD) and Darion Griswold (13 receptions, 187 yards, 2 TD) are other double digit receivers Knighten can look for in the passing game. Two kickers have combined to hit 61 of 64 extra points and 11 of 15 field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards.
Louisiana Tech missed a prime chance to play in the Conference USA title game as they were trounced at home by Southern Miss. The Bulldogs were outgained 555-405; they did pick up 27 first downs to Southern Miss’s 25 and were edged 30:04 to 29:56 in the time of possession battle. Where Louisiana Tech was done in was in the turnover battle: the Bulldogs committed a staggering seven turnovers in the game while forcing just one takeaway. One turnover was returned for a score and the Bulldogs allowed three touchdowns in 45 seconds early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs have a terrific offensive unit as they are 15th (311.9 yards) in passing offense and currently stand 89th (153.8 yards per game) in rushing offense this season. Louisiana Tech is tied for 22nd in the nation in scoring offense as they average 36.8 points per game though they are currently 63rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 26.8 points per game. Former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has connected on 255 of 412 passes for 3,575 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions while ranking second on the team with 307 yards and five scores. Kenneth Dixon is the top ground gainer for Louisiana Tech as he has run the ball 176 times for 968 yards with 17 scores; if he needs a breather, Jarred Craft (58 carries, 230 yards, TD) and Boston Scott (30 carries, 169 yards) are next in line. Seven players have double digit receptions for Louisiana Tech this season; Trent Taylor is far and away the leading receiver with 89 grabs for 1,133 yards and eight scores while no other Bulldogs player has more than Paul Turner’s (560 yards, 3 TD) 40 receptions. Dixon has caught 28 passes out of the backfield while Carlos Henderson (35 receptions, 721 yards, 5 TD) and Kameron McKnight (22 grabs, 268 yards) are good secondary options. Jonathan Barnes has hit all 55 extra points and 18 of 22 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 50 yards.
Arkansas State is 6-1 ATS in their last seven overall and 8-0 straight up in their last eight overall.
The Red Wolves have been extremely good lately and it’s tough to contain all their weapons. Louisiana Tech has a devastating pass attack but they’ve shown their weaknesses defensively. This should be a high scoring affair between a pair of tough mid-major teams but in the end, the Red Wolves pull out the win late; take the points and Arkansas State.
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