In 1992 Arkansas State made its official return to 1-A(FBS) status after playing at the 1-AA (FCS) level since 1982. The 1-AA years were mostly good to the Indians as they compiled a 61-54-5 record in those years with the golden era falling between 1984-87. During that four year stretch the record was 37-14-5 with four consecutive playoff appearances and a berth in the 1986 1-AA national championship game against now Sun Belt mate Georgia Southern. So starting in 1992, playing as an independent before joining the Big West Conference in ‘93, the Indians made the move back into the big leagues. It cannot be debated whether the program was truly ready for it, because it wasn't, but even with the 90’s as miserable as they were at times, there were still bright spots as two games from that decade made the top 10 list.
#10 Indians 20 Hawaii 0 —September 26, 1998--HC Joe Hollis
There were not many promising moments for the Indians in the 90’s but a trip out to the Pacific islands to face the Rainbow Warriors was not only one of those moments but it was the middle of a three week sweet run of victories. To put that in perspective, there were only a pair of three game win streaks in the decade. The Tribe was coming off of a 28-24 win at home over Southwest Missouri State after having narrowly lost at Minnesota in the opener and being routed in week two at LSU. The ‘Bows were headed towards an 0-12 season but in mid-September no one knew how bad they were going to be. It was Hollis' first victory over a Division I-A opponent and the first time Hawaii had been shut out at home since 1976. The win over Hawaii also snapped a 14-game road losing streak. ASU was led by Cleo Lemon’s 193 yards passing and 2 touchdowns while completing only 13 passes. The offense finished with 12 first downs and 255 yards of total offense. The bend but don't break defense was spurred by a pair of sacks from Clarence Williams. The Indians would come home the following week and beat New Mexico State in overtime and going 3-2 on the season. A three week stretch that made Indian fans believe that there was daylight ahead with Joe Hollis leading the way. The Tribe proceeded to lose six of the next seven and finish 4-8-0.
#9 Red Wolves 50 ULL 27 --October 23, 2012--HC Gus Malzahn
Coming off the Cinderella season of 2011, Red Wolves fans were excited about the return of Gus Malzahn to his home state and the possibilities of where the program could go now. The first seven weeks were a mixed bag with three Sun Belt wins but losses against Nebraska, Oregon, and Western Kentucky. Next up was a crucial mid week game showcased on ESPN2 against Louisiana-Lafayette who had beaten the Red Wolves three out of the last four years. This game was a conference contender elimination match with both squads having one loss in conference and ULM undefeated at the time. This one was all scarlet and black from the get go as ASU jumped out to a 26-7 halftime lead and never looked back. QB Ryan Aplin threw for 244 yards and a touchdown in the first half to power the Red Wolves. The seal the deal moment came late in the 3rd quarter came as Malzahn dialed up multiple consecutive runs over the Cajun defenses left side that they couldn't stop. The image of Gus on the sideline literally saying “run it again” will live in lore. ASU at one point would run 27 consecutive rushing plays and finish the night with 257 rushing yards. The Red Wolves would snub the 4 point Vegas underdog number and hang 50 on the Cajuns on the road and roll onto 5 more consecutive wins to claim their second consecutive Sun Belt title and 10 win season.
#8 Red Wolves 17 Kent St. 13--January 6, 2013 GoDaddy Bowl—HC John Thompson (Interim)
The Red Wolves rolled into Mobile on a seven game hot streak, getting votes in both polls and were ranked 37th in the BCS computer rankings. The loss of Gus Malzahn going back to Auburn as the top man was tempered by the hiring of former OC boy wonder at Boise St., via Texas, Bryan Harsin. But this game would be defined by defense as led by interim head coach and madman DC John Thompson. ASU would face #25 Kent State who had lost to Northern Illinois in the MAC championship and would arrive in Mobile with an 11-2 record and averaging nearly 35 points per game. The Red Wolf defense would hold All-American running back Dri Archer to just 77 yards on the ground and the Golden Flashes to 350 yards of total offense. Future ring of honor QB Ryan Aplin completed 10 straight passes on two consecutive touchdown drives to give ASU a 14-10 lead at halftime. The critical point of the game came in the last minute of play as Kent St. faced a fourth and 8 at the ASU 25 yard line, QB Spencer Keith tried to scramble for the first down but was tripped up by game defensive MVP LB Quashan Lee three yards short of the first down essentially ending the game and giving ASU its first bowl win in Division 1-A/FBS. Kent St. led the country in takeaways coming into the game with 38 for the season but ASU finished with 0 turnovers. J.D. McKissic caught 11 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Red Wolves had now won 20 games in 2 seasons.