Kickoff: November 18th, 2:00pm CT
Location: Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
Radio: AM1300/AM930/89.9 FM,
Series Record: 3-1, Red Wolves lead the series
Betting Line: Arkansas State -26, 59 O/U
Last Meeting: 36-14, Arkansas State (2016)
Texas State Outlook
As much promise as the past two games have given Bobcat fans, 2017 seems to be slipping away into possibly another second straight 10 -loss season. It’s not pessimism as much as it is the odds, as injuries and now more players being dismissed are decimating the thin roster.
Head coach Everett Withers announced at Monday’s presser the dismissal of four Bobcats: wide receiver Thurman Morbley, safety Quinn Tiggs, cornerback Jordan Eastling and running back Tyler “King” Tutt. This of course couldn’t have come at a worse time. For the integrity of the program the dismissals I’m sure were justified and to keep with the new culture that Coach Withers has instilled in the program. the three strike rule was utilized. Regardless of what they did, which was not specified by Withers, it leaves a very massive hole in an already depleted skill position depth chart and a secondary already struggling enough as it is.
Defensively, outside of the linebacker duo extraordinaire in Loyds of London (Gabe Loyd/Bryan London) it’s been a hit or miss experience, heavy on the miss. In last week’s loss to Georgia State the Bobcats (2-8, 1-5 Sun Belt) gave up a brutal 530 yards of total offense including a 368 yard passing performance from Panther quarterback Conner Manning. There are still no interceptions from this Bobcat defense and even though Gabe Loyd got close to one last Saturday it makes a win hard to come by when you get no takeaways.
Texas State needs to keep the pedal to the floor on offense. Quarterback Damian Williams shined with another 300-plus yard performance and besides an ill-advised interception he had a career day in completions, attempts and touchdowns. Morbley is gone but he wasn’t utilized as much as he was last year. Still, his departure leaves a receiving corp short on talent. Elijah King has stepped up as a playmaker at receiver snatching, 103 yards for his third century yard topper of the year against Georgia State. Williams and King will need to keep the production up to have a chance against a stingy Red Wolves defense.
Conclusion: The odds are stacked against the ‘Cats from getting another win, yet playing Sun Belt spoiler and gaining that precious confidence going into 2018 is crucial and will be the driving force for the win. Gimme that upset win, per the usual prediction, 38-31, Texas State.
Arkansas State Outlook
In the loss last week to South Alabama, QB Justice Hansen and his cohorts on offense looked like they were playing in a swimming pool, looking slow and sluggish. There were multiple moments that could have easily swung an ugly, ugly loss into an ugly, ugly win including a Blake Mack rare drop for a TD or Justice Hansen losing the ball from a perfect hit into the end zone on what could have been a another step towards the title.
Instead ASU returns home for the first time in a month, licking its wounds and needing a win to put them into a four way tie atop the Sun Belt. Perfect timing for the Red Wolves with Texas State coming into Jonesboro only averaging 18 points a game and giving up 31 points per contest. Don't look for Blake Anderson to shake up the recipe too much here, it will look a lot like the Justice Hansen show on offense as he closes in on the ASU single season leader in yards needing only 1145 yards in 3 games plus a bowl game to surpass the Ryan Aplin 2011 season performance of 3588 yards.
Defensively last week the Red Wolves played good enough to win holding South Alabama to -3 yards rushing on the night. The front six seemed to have come together at the right time again and the depth that ASU is able to play especially upfront shows late in most Sun Belt games. The Red Wolves have 29 sacks on the year which makes them #1 in the Sun Belt in that category. Expect ASU to pad its defensive numbers in this game with constant pressure from the front four.
Blake Anderson and his squad need a convincing Sun Belt win here to right the ship and get a little momentum for the final two which includes Troy looming on December 2nd. Arkansas State 41 Texas State 17