Kickoff: Thursday October 19th, 6:30 pm CST
TV: ESPNU / Streaming on ESPN3
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (107.9 FM, flagship)
Location: Centennial Bank Stadium - Jonesboro Ark. (30,406)
Series: ULL leads 24-19-1
Live Stats: AStateStats.com/AStateRedWolves.com
Live Game Notes: twitter.com/AStateGameDay
Vegas Odds: Arkansas State -12.5 O/U 64.5
When Arkansas State (3-2, 2-0 Sun Belt) and Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) met towards the end of the 2016 season, the two teams were going in different directions. ASU had righted the ship after starting 0-4 and was looking for its 15th straight conference victory while the Cajuns were staring down the barrel of a losing season and no bowl trip.
The Cajuns held off a last second rally and downed the Red Wolves 24-19. This time its the Cajuns who are attempting to right the ship after starting 1-4 but winners of their last two conference games while ASU looks for more success in the mid-week games and a chance to stay unblemished in conference play, and remain in the hunt for the Sun Belt championship.
It’s all about the ASU offense (for now)
With Blake Anderson back at the helm of play calling and QB development, the Red Wolves offensive output has increased almost two TDs a game. Currently ASU is 14th in the country at almost 40 points a game and QB Justice Hansen with 19 TD passes in five games, needs only six more TD tosses to break the single season mark.
Cajun QB Nunez is quietly steering the ship
In the last three games since taking over for Jordan Davis, junior QB Andre Nunez has thrown for 732 yards and four TDs but with only one pick. Cajun Coach Mark Hudspeth likes to play defense and run the ball and he is getting very comfortable with Nunez as a game manager and leaning on freshman RB Troy Ragas who has run for 525 yards and seven TDs.
Speaking of the Cajun defense
Its got to get better for the Cajun D. They are currently 115th in the nation in total defense and managed to give up 54 PPG average in their first four contests while going 1-3. In the last two games they have chopped that number down to less than 12 a game but don’t expect ULL to hold Hansen and company to less than 40.
The most important stat of the night will be....
Third down conversions. ASU has been a beast on third down converting 45% of the time which is good enough for 29th in the country. This would normally be a good place to say “Wait one moment,” but the Cajuns are miserable on defense and third down conversions allowing 47% for 117th in FBS.
Who to watch for
ASU - SR TE Blake Mack -Mack has 22 catches on the season and has doubled his TD tally from last year already with 6 this year through 5 games. He has caught at least 1 TD pass in every game this year.
ULL - SR LB T.J. Posey - Posey has quietly posted 50 tackles through 6 games this year. This senior has been a contributor since he stepped on campus but 2017 appears to be a breakout year as he is coming out of Otha Peters shadow.
Until someone tells me differently I’m going to assume that the Red Wolves are going to score 40-45 points a game. The big question mark will be where in the development is the defense.