Start Time: 3 p.m. EST, Nov. 23
Location: Centennial Bank Stadium; Jonesboro, AR
Records: Georgia Southern (6-4, 4-2 Sun Belt), Arkansas State (6-4, 4-2 Sun Belt)
Weather: 47 degrees at kickoff, 10% chance of precipitation
Betting Line: Pick ‘Em, O/U 54.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
After walloping UL Monroe last week by a score of 51-29, the Eagles have almost inserted themselves back into the Sun Belt East race, provided they win out and Appalachian State has a slip up against one of its final two opponents this season.
Georgia Southern scored in all three phases of football last Saturday, as a pick-six by Donald Rutledge and a kick return by Monquavion Brinson each went for scores.
The Southern defense will face a much tougher task tomorrow in Jonesboro, facing off against a team that is scoring 33.6 points per game, and resembles the team GS played two weeks ago, Troy.
The Eagles’ secondary will have its hands full trying to cover a plethora of talented Red Wolves receivers while also containing (presumably) an up-tempo offense, so hopefully the coverage is a bit tighter than it was against the Trojans a few weeks back.
Offensively, Georgia Southern should not have much trouble moving the ball against a defense that is allowing nearly 500 yards per game on defense, although Arkansas State’s pass defense has been worse than its front-seven from a stats perspective.
As long as offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse mixes the play calling up somewhat and the defense is at least making the opposing receivers work to get their catches, I feel pretty good about Southern’s chances in this one.
If neither of the things listed above actually happen, it could be another long day against a high-powered offensive team.
Arkansas State Outlook
It has been an up-and-down type of season for the Red Wolves, who have been hot as of late, reeling off three consecutive conference wins in as many weeks.
A pair of conference losses weeks back against Georgia State and Louisiana has Arkansas State on the outside looking in on the Sun Belt West race, while hoping that the Cajuns drop their last two games.
In that span, freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher has thrown 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions, and is tied for the second-most touchdown passes this season within the conference, with 17.
Receiver Omar Bayless has been a problem for opposing secondaries all season long, with a team-high 73 grabs for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bayless is a big receiver with the ability to box out smaller cornerbacks and safeties for scores, and should be playing on Sundays this time next year.
Lastly, the running back position has been anchored by the efforts of one Marcel Murray, having racked up over 700 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns to round out the dynamic offensive play makers the Red Wolves sport.
Defensively, the secondary by and large has left a lot to be desired, as the team is allowing 35 points per game to opposing offenses and 479 yards per game both on the ground and through the air.
The tape of the Troy-Georgia Southern game should be the blueprint for Arkansas State in this one: Up-tempo offense, force the Eagles to match score-for-score with you, and hope the defense gets enough stops to come away with a win.
I think Georgia Southern learns from the sins it committed a few weeks ago against Troy, and is able to contain Hatcher and Bayless long enough to keep this one close and a one-score game. Take the over in this one, because points will be scored.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 35, Arkansas State 31