The Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-3, 6-0) travel westward as they take on the New Mexico State Aggies (3-7, 3-3) in Sun Belt Conference action Saturday afternoon. New Mexico State has won six of the previous nine meetings but Arkansas State has taken the last two, including a 68-35 home win as a 23.5 point favorite on November 29, 2014.
Arkansas State has won six straight after trampling Louisiana Monroe 59-21 two weeks ago; they’re coming off a bye. New Mexico State won their third straight after starting the year 0-7 by edging Louisiana Lafayette 37-34 last Saturday. The kickoff from Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET and the game can be seen on ESPN3. Arkansas State is currently favored by 17.5 points with the over/under set at 71 points in this contest.
Arkansas State is well rested with two weeks since that destruction of Louisiana Monroe to heal and recover. The game was tied 21-21 late in the second quarter before the Red Wolves scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:23 of the half to take command; they blanked the Warhawks in the second half. Arkansas State outgained Louisiana Monroe 448-252, won the first down battle 19-10 and controlled the time of possession by a 32:01 to 27:59 margin. In addition, the Red Wolves forced five turnovers while committing only one; they scored on an interception return and had four scoring drives start in Louisiana Monroe territory.
The Red Wolves are currently 94th in the nation in passing offense with 198.8 yards per contest while they are 20th in the nation with 224.9 yards per game on the ground. Arkansas State averages 38.5 points per game, which is tied for 15th in the nation in scoring offense, but they have had issues in stopping the opposition as they are 87th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 30.1 points per game. James Tabary has seen a fair amount of reps at quarterback; he’s completed 65 of 102 passes for 788 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. Fredi Knighten, who was the starter last season, has hit 87 of 166 passes for 1,139 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 307 yards and two scores on the ground. Michael Gordon is the team’s leading rusher with 133 carries for 832 yards and seven scores; Warren Wand (94 carries, 596 yards, 3 TD) and Johnston White (77 carries, 430 yards, team high 12 scores) are a pair of capable backs as well. JD McKissic is the team’s leading receiver and one of four Arkansas State players with double digit receptions; he has hauled in 43 passes for 439 yards and a touchdown. Tres Houston (23 receptions, 381 yards, 9 TD), Dijon Paschal (20 catches, 385 yards, TD) and Darion Griswold (11 receptions, 161 yards, 2 TD) are other double digit receivers Knighten can look for in the passing game. Two kickers have combined to hit 47 of 49 extra points and 10 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards.
New Mexico State picked up their third straight win by scoring 10 points in the final four minutes to upend Louisiana Lafayette. The Aggies outgained the Ragin’ Cajuns 498-475, won the first down battle 27-23 and lost the time of possession battle 31:29 to 28:31 in the contest. New Mexico State forced the lone turnover in the game. The contest was a seesaw one as New Mexico State led 13-7, trailed 14-13, led 27-20 and trailed 34-27 before their final rally to take the contest.
The Aggies are 48th in the nation in passing offense (241.1 yards) and 36th in rushing offense (195.8 yards) per game on the season. New Mexico State is scoring 18 points per contest, putting them tied for 70th in the nation in scoring offense while they are dreadful in the scoring defense department; they are 127th in the nation, which makes them the second worst in the country, by allowing 44.6 points per game. Three quarterbacks have seen action for New Mexico State this season; they’ve combined to complete 51.1 percent of their throws for 2,411 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine picks. Andrew Allen (79 of 154, 1010 yards, 11 TD, 4 INT) has seen the most reps under center with Tyler Rogers and Nick Jeanty in the mix as well. Larry Rose III leads the Aggies in the ground game with 198 carries for 1,481 yards and 12 scores; no one else has more than Allen’s 172 yards on the season. Teldrick Morgan is second on New Mexico State with 27 receptions for 369 yards and three touchdowns while Tyrain Taylor has a team high 34 catches for a team leading 640 yards plus four scores; Rose III has contributed 26 receptions for 277 yards and two scores out of the backfield. Parker Davidson has had problems splitting the uprights as he is 28 of 34 on extra points and 10 of 16 on field goals this season with a long of 44 yards.
Arkansas State is 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up win, 4-1 ATS in their last five overall and 12-4 ATS in their last 16 in November. New Mexico State is 4-13 ATS in their last 17 after an ATS win, 1-5 ATS in their last six after allowing more than 450 yards, 1-6 ATS in their last seven at home and 1-7 ATS in their last eight at home against teams with a winning road record.
The Red Wolves are rolling right now and is looking to lock up the Sun Belt title but they have to prevent stumbling here or next week against Texas State. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are both nipping at the heels of Arkansas State. New Mexico State is playing better of late but they’re overmatched by Arkansas State’s weapons here.