The Arkansas State Red Wolves (6-3, 5-0) will look to maintain their hold at the top of the Sun Belt Conference as they take on the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks (1-8, 0-5) Saturday afternoon. Arkansas State has taken five straight meetings in the series, including a 28-14 win at home as a 10.5 point favorite on October 4, 2014 in the most recent meeting.
Arkansas State has won five straight after a 1-3 start as they downed Appalachian State 40-27 on the road in a Sun Belt showdown. Louisiana Monroe has dropped seven straight games after getting waxed 51-14 on the road by Troy. Kickoff from Malone Stadium in Monroe, Louisiana is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Arkansas State is currently a 14.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 58 points.
Arkansas State trailed 21-14 in the second quarter but reeled off the next 26 points to stun Appalachian State on the road. The Red Wolves outgained the Mountaineers 517-465 and finished with 24 first downs to Appalachian State’s 19 in the game. Arkansas State held the ball for 32 minutes to Appalachian State’s 28 minutes and forced three Mountaineers turnovers while not recording a turnover of their own. The Red Wolves scored 14 points off those turnovers, including a fumble return for a score.
The Red Wolves are currently 104th in the nation in passing offense with 187.6 yards per contest while they are 14th in the nation with 233.4 yards per game on the ground. Arkansas State averages 36.2 points per game, which is tied for 24th in the nation in scoring offense, but they have had issues in stopping the opposition as they are 93rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 31.1 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 72 of 136 passes for 839 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 285 yards and a score on the ground. Michael Gordon is the team’s leading rusher with 120 carries for 758 yards and seven scores; Warren Wand (81 carries, 554 yards, 3 TD) and Johnston White (70 carries, 413 yards, team high 11 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 41 passes for 419 yards and a touchdown. Tres Houston (20 receptions, 257 yards, 6 TD), Dijon Paschal (18 catches, 285 yards, TD) and Darion Griswold (11 receptions, 161 yards, 2 TD) are the other double digit receivers. Two kickers have combined to hit 39 of 41 extra points and nine of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards.
Louisiana Monroe gave up the first 13 points and was down 27-14 after a quarter; they never scored again and the Warhawks were waxed. The Warhawks were outgained 493-376 in a game that saw Louisiana Monroe win the time of possession battle 31:28 to 28:32 and both teams finished with 20 first downs. The major point in this contest was Louisiana Monroe’s six turnovers in the game while failing to record a takeaway; one of those six turnovers was a fumble return for a score that helped set the tone early.
The Warhawks are 66th in the nation in passing offense (227.4 yards) but they are currently just 123rd in the nation in rushing offense as they average 98 yards per game on the ground. Louisiana Monroe scores 20.1 points per game, which leaves them tied for 104th in scoring offense while they stand 118th in scoring defense as they allow 37.4 points a night. Garrett Smith is the starter at quarterback and has hit 187 of 324 passes for 2,013 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions; he’s second on the team with 240 yards and two scores on the ground. Louisiana Monroe averages 3.1 yards per carry on the ground; Kaylon Watson leads the team with 69 carries for 246 yards while Ben Luckett has 40 carries for 209 yards plus a score and DeVontae Michael (41 carries, 168 yards, 2 TD) is in the mix as well. Ajalen Holley leads the Warhawks with 50 receptions for 631 yards and five scores while Rashon Caesar chips in 28 catches for 287 yards and two scores; Watson has 18 catches out of the backfield. Jared Mapps (20 grabs, 201 yards, TD) and Marcus Green (37 catches, 440 yards, 4 TD) are secondary targets. Craig Ford has hit all 22 extra points and has booted six of nine field goals this season with a long of 44 yards.
Arkansas State is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 in November and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 after allowing at least 450 yards of offense. Louisiana Monroe is 8-17-1 ATS in their last 26 on grass, 1-4-1 ATS in their last six after a straight up loss, 1-4 ATS in their last five conference games, 1-4-1 ATS in their last six at home and 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven conference games.
The Red Wolves have been very good of late after starting the year 1-3 and have a chance to really lock themselves in at the top of the Sun Belt Standings. Louisiana Monroe has been dismal this season and their blowout loss last week against the Trojans doesn’t instill confidence. Arkansas State should have no issue cruising to a sixth straight win here.