Idaho (1-5) at Arkansas State (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bank Stadium (30,406) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho 1-2, ASU 2-0. Away Record: Idaho 0-3, ASU 0-3. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 0-0, ASU 1-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas State Red Wolves will kick off a two-game homestand on Saturday night, as they square off against the Idaho Vandals in non- conference action.
Idaho, an Independent in 2013 following the collapse of the Western Athletic Conference, has started the season at 1-5, with its only win coming at home against Temple on Sept. 28, 26-24. The Vandals returned to their losing ways last week in a 61-14 setback to Fresno State, and now they head back out on the road where they've lost 12 straight dating back to 2011.
Arkansas State has had an inconsistent start to the season, winning both of its home games while dropping all three road contests. The Red Wolves got off to a 1-0 start in the Sun Belt Conference following a Sept. 12 win over Troy (41-34), but since then they have dropped back-to-back games at Memphis (31-7) and Missouri (41-19).
The all-time series between Idaho and Arkansas State is tied, 4-4. The Vandals won the last meeting at home in November of 2004, 45-31.
The Idaho offense has floundered through the first six games of the season, scoring just 15.2 ppg on 360.5 ypg, while committing more than two turnovers per outing.
Chad Chalich bares the weight of the offense under center. He is completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,211 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions, and he is also the team's leading rusher with 212 yards, although he is averaging a meager 2.3 yards per carry. Josh McCain has taken some snaps as well, but he has done little to threaten Chalich's starting job (7-of-14, 136 yards, TD, two INTs).
Dezmon Epps is a reliable threat out wide with 38 receptions for 402 yards and a touchdown, although no one else puts up more than 38 receiving yards per contest.
James Baker is the team's most utilized tailback, and while he has scored three touchdowns, his 59 carries have only resulted in 198 yards (3.4 ypc).
While the offense has certainly had its share of troubles, the biggest reason for Idaho's futility has been the porous play of the defense. The unit ranks 120th in the FBS in scoring defense, allowing 42.3 ppg, and its 536.8 ypg ranks only better than New Mexico State nationally.
Bradley Njoku has a team-best 47 tackles to go with 3.0 TFL and an interception. Marc Millan (5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and QuayShawne Buckley (6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) have been adequate playmakers behind the line of scrimmage.
As for Arkansas State, its offense has been very inconsistent this season, scoring 27.6 ppg on 464.6 ypg while converting touchdowns on just 11 of its 20 trips to the red zone. The good news for the Red Wolves is that they've preformed much better at home, scoring a total of 103 points in two games in Jonesboro.
First-year starting quarterback Adam Kennedy has been efficient for the most part, completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1,199 yards with just two interceptions, but he has been lacking in the big-play department, throwing only three touchdown passes.
The ground game is ASU's biggest strength, as it racks up 213.2 ypg on average. David Oku (327 yards) earns the bulk of the carries and has scored four touchdowns, while Michael Gordon (219 yards, three TDs) and Fredi Knighten (143 yards, three TDs) are both very explosive, with each averaging more than 11 yards per rush.
Julian Jones leads the team in all major receiving categories with 33 receptions, 334 yards and two touchdowns. J.D. McKissic (288 yards, TD) has 26 catches, with a school-record 15 of those coming in the loss to Missouri.
Defensively, the Red Wolves have not performed well, negating their offensive production by allowing teams to outscore them (31.0 ppg) and nearly outgain them (451.0 ppg). Since giving up 11 points in their opening win, they have yielded 31 points or more in four straight.
Qushaun Lee has 39 tackles as well as two forced fumbles. Ryan Carrethers has racked up 31 stops, 4.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks, while Chris Stone has made five tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
It certainly hasn't been the start to the season that the two-time defending Sun Belt Conference champions were looking for, but Arkansas State should have no issue getting healthy at home against one of FBS's most futile teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 44, Idaho 20
10/09 10:37:10 ET