The Texas State Bobcats (3-8, 2-5) will travel to face the Arkansas State Red Wolves (8-3, 7-0) in a Sun Belt Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. The teams have split the two previous meetings; Texas State picked up a 45-27 win at home as a 6.5 point favorite on November 20, 2014 in the most recent contest between the schools.
Texas State lost for the fourth time in five games with a 38-31 road loss to Idaho last Saturday. Arkansas State remained unbeaten in conference action by winning their seventh straight game as they routed New Mexico State 52-28 on the road last Saturday. Kickoff from Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Arkansas is set for 3:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Arkansas State is currently a 25.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 70.5 points.
Texas State had their chances against a poor Idaho team but couldn’t make enough plays to get the victory; the Bobcats allowed the winning score with 1:02 to play. The Bobcats were outgained 508-480 but won the time of possession battle 31:17 to 28:43 in the contest. Both teams finished with 23 first downs and committed a pair of turnovers in the game. Texas State rallied from 14 down in the first half and seven down in the fourth quarter but couldn’t close the deal in the game; the Bobcats have to be disappointed.
The Bobcats bring a good offense to the table in this contest as they are 60th in the nation in passing offense (227.5 yards) and 43rd in the nation when it comes to rushing offense with an average of 190.4 yards per game. Texas State is scoring an average of 27.6 points per game, which is tied for 75th in the country, but they are leaky defensively as they are 119th in the FBS in scoring defense by allowing 37.7 points per contest. Tyler Jones has completed 212 of 365 passes for 2,365 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions while ranking second on the team with 547 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Connor White (18 of 32, 137 yards, TD, 38 rushing yards) is the backup should Jones get banged up. Robert Lowe is the top running back for the Bobcats with 175 carries for 915 yards plus seven scores; Chris Nutall adds 35 carries for 176 yards and four touchdowns while Tyler Siudzinski (47 carries, 249 yards, TD) is in the mix as well. C.J. Best is the team’s leading receiver with 50 catches for 496 yards and a score; Jafus Gaines (40 grabs, 486 yards, 2 TD), Ryan Carden (25 grabs, 243 yards) and Demun Mercer (19 receptions, 235 yards, 2 TD) are other key targets for the Bobcats. Two kickers for Texas State have combined to hit 30 of 35 extra points and 10 of 17 field goals this season with a long of 50 yards.
Arkansas State has rolled through conference play and can seal up the conference title with a win in this contest. The Red Wolves raced to a 21-7 lead after one quarter and never let New Mexico State back in the game. Arkansas State outgained New Mexico State 605-434, took the first down battle 30-20 and held the ball for 35:17 while limiting the Aggies to 24:53 in the game. The Red Wolves forced four turnovers while committing only one turnover; Arkansas State also scored a touchdown on a punt return.
The Red Wolves are currently 76th in the nation in passing offense with 214.1 yards per contest while they are 19th in the nation with 226.1 yards per game on the ground. Arkansas State averages 39.7 points per game, which is currently 15th in the nation in scoring offense, but they have had issues in stopping the opposition as they are 86th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 29.9 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 110 of 207 passes for 1,506 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 340 yards and two scores on the ground. Michael Gordon is the team’s leading rusher with 144 carries for 907 yards and eight scores; Warren Wand (99 carries, 610 yards, 3 TD) and Johnston White (86 carries, 514 yards, team high 13 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 48 passes for 492 yards and a touchdown. Tres Houston (30 receptions, 506 yards, 10 TD), Dijon Paschal (24 catches, 500 yards, 3 TD) and Darion Griswold (12 receptions, 168 yards, 2 TD) are other double digit receivers Knighten can look for in the passing game. Two kickers have combined to hit 54 of 56 extra points and 11 of 14 field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards.
Arkansas State is 4-0 ATS in their last four after scoring at least 40 points, 5-1 ATS in their last six conference games, 5-1 ATS in their last six after a straight up win and 5-1 ATS in their last six overall. Texas State is 1-4 ATS in their last five conference games, 1-4 ATS in their last five overall and 0-5 ATS in their last five road games.
The Red Wolves have played extremely good football in the Sun Belt after starting the year 1-3 and it’s hard to see Texas State posing much of a threat here. Arkansas State has plenty of weapons and experience to work with while the Bobcats have struggled at times, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Playing on the road has been a negative for the Bobcats, look for Arkansas State to cruise to an eighth straight victory.