Despite fielding some compelling teams in recent years, the Warhawks haven't notched a victory against the Red Wolves since 2009. In fact, the five year losing streak is a mirror to the Red Wolves' rise to power, whose ascent to the Sun Belt elite began during Hugh Freeze's 2011 season.
When Last These Titans Met: The Red Wolves doubled up on the Warhawks 28-14 in Jonesboro, the first Sun Belt victory for first-year head coach Blake Anderson. Fredi Knighten accounted for all of A-State's scores, with three passing TDs and one on the ground. Interestingly, neither team scored until midway through the 3rd quarter.
These Red Wolves Have Claws: The A-State teams helmed by Freeze and Gus Malzahn are touted as some of the program's most potent of all time. But this year's version under Blake Anderson rates just as well.
Points per Sun Belt Conference game: '11 Freeze 35.0 '12 Malzahn 37.6 '13 Harsin 30.1 '14 Anderson 42.0 '15 Anderson 44.6 and rising!
Even on a "down" year from Fredi Knighten, the 2015 Red Wolves are putting up monster points against their conference opponents, thanks to Anderson and OC Walt Bell and a surprisingly versatile running game.
Speaking of the Running Game: Red Wolves superbackMichael Gordon is a mere 242 yards away from collecting a 1,000 yard season. It's worth noting that ULM ranks 116th nationally for rushing defense, surrendering 229 yards per game.
Finally at Home in Malone: The Warhawks end a grueling 28-day road trip with Saturday's return to Malone Stadium, absorbing losses in Moscow, Lafayette and Troy. Next Thursday find the road-weary Warhawks in San Marcos against Texas State. The schedule has not been kind to ULM.
Hail Caeser! For much of the season, UL-Monroe has been without their heralded wide-out Rashon Ceaser, who sustained an injury against Alabama in Week 3. Ceasar, who was named SBC Player of the Week with 153 yards and two TDs against Georgia, finally returned against Troy last week and made a pair of receptions. Will we see more work from the talented receiver against A-State?
Number 11 vs. Number 1: At 0-5, the Warhawks anchor the bottom of the conference. While ULM wasn't necessarily expected to win the Sun Belt, the basement status is a bit surprising. Todd Berry always has his team prepared and competing, but he has yet to match the success of 2012 that saw the Warhawks upset Arkansas in Little Rock and nearly upend Baylor. It should be noted that ULM by far plays the Sun Belt's toughest OOC schedule, with games at Georgia, Alabama, Tulsa and Hawaii. Hawaii! Arkansas State currently sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, 5-0 in conference and positioned for a SBC title.
ULM's Todd Berry "we are getting ready to play the class of the Sun Belt in my opinion." Arkansas State @RedWolvesFBall at ULM, 2 pm, Sat.
Notorious for their fiscal prudence, it's possible that Todd Berry's magic can no longer compensate for the program's lack of resources. Or, maybe the Warhawks are simply rebuilding. (Note: ULM currently ranks 7th in 2016 recruiting)
Who Scares the Hell Out of the Red Wolves Most? ULM's Garrett Smith is completing 57% of his passes and is currently 3rd in the Sun Belt with 2,013 yards. Smith is a freshman with a great future, but he makes freshman mistakes (11 INTs) and has absorbed 24 sacks. Still, junior WR Ajalen Holley (631yds, 5TDs) has been a nice weapon for Smith. It only takes a few big strikes from the tandem to have the Red Wolves scrambling.