Arkansas State (4-4) at ULM (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Malone Stadium (30,427) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Arkansas State 3-1, ULM 2-2. Away Record: Arkansas State 1-3, ULM 3-2. Neutral Record: Arkansas State 0-0, ULM 0-0. Conference Record: Arkansas State 2-1, ULM 3-1. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 20-14.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks will look to capitalize on their homefield advantage for the last time this season when they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a Sun Belt Conference clash at Malone Stadium.
Even though they have split their four home contests (2-2), the Warhawks are riding into this contest on a three-game win streak. The stretch follows a three-game losing streak for the Warhawks, who are just 5-4 overall but right in the mix at the top of the Sun Belt Conference at 3-1. The most recent victory was an impressive one as they topped Troy on the road, 49-37.
In Bryan Harsin's first year as head coach for Arkansas State the Red Wolves have split eight games. The squad is coming off back-to-back 10-win campaigns and Sun Belt Conference championships, but completing a third looks like it could be a tall order despite being 2-1 against the rest of the conference at this point. Last weekend the Red Wolves grabbed that second league win when Sirgregory Thornton scored on a three-yard touchdown run to carry them to a 17-16 victory over South Alabama.
In last year's meeting, Arkansas State rolled up a 45-23 victory over ULM led by three touchdowns and 131 yards from running back David Oku. With the victory the Red Wolves have now won 20 of the 34 total matchups.
Neither of these teams is particularly effective on offense. Arkansas State has the slight edge as it ranks fifth in the Sun Belt in both total yards (425.6 ypg) and points (26.3 ppg).
Adam Kennedy is the starting quarterback for the Red Wolves. Kennedy has been a solid player under center, completing passes at an impressive 68.3 percent clip. However, he has only totaled 1,799 yards and seven touchdowns.
Oku is still making plays for the Red Wolves in the backfield. Oku leads the team in yards (436), carries (114) and touchdowns (five). The Red Wolves have been much more adept in getting into the end zone on the ground with 17 rushing touchdowns as a team.
When not running the ball Kennedy prefers to get J.D. McKissic and Julian Jones involved in the passing game. McKissic (47 receptions, 388 yards, two TDs) serves as the safety valve for the offense as more of a possession receiver, while Jones (42 receptions, 524 yards, three TDs) is the big-play threat. Allen Muse (23 receptions, 312 yards, TD) also gets in the mix.
Defensively speaking the Red Wolves rank near the middle of the Sun Belt in yards allowed (434.1 ypg) and scoring defense (27.3 ppg). Ryan Carrethers (63 tackles, 3.5 sacks) is the top pass rusher. Qushaun Lee (83 tackles) leads the way in tackles and Rocky Hayes (27 tackles, three INTs) has been an effective defender in the secondary.
ULM is an even weaker offensive squad than Arkansas State. The Warhawks are only averaging 369.8 yards and 23.1 points per game, ranking among the bottom few teams in the Sun Belt in each category.
Kennedy's counterpart in this contest is Jolton Browning, who threw for 354 yards and five touchdowns against Troy. Browning has really been playing his best football of late, with nine touchdowns and 578 yards on better than 65 percent passing in the last two games. In all, Browning has been less effective, connecting on 56.3 percent of his passes, for 1,545 yards and 16 scores to six interceptions, although he hasn't been picked off in three weeks.
The receivers that bring in the majority of Browning's passes are Rashon Ceaser (45 receptions, 598 yards, TD) and Tavarese Maye (32 receptions, 370 yards, TD). Maye did not play against Troy but is expected to be back this week. Ceaser had his first 100-yard effort of the season against the Trojans with three catches for 105 yards and his first touchdown of the year.
Centarius Donald has slowly been warming up after missing the first three games of the year. In the last two games Donald has compiled 240 yards and two touchdowns with a pair of 100-yard efforts. On the year, he has 348 yards and three touchdowns. Jyruss Edards (391 yards, two TDs) is still the leading rusher in terms of yards, although his workload has diminished of late.
The Warhawks are allowing 28.4 points and 414.8 yards per game, falling near the bottom of the conference in each category. However, they have managed to remain competitive thanks to their success on third down, with a league- leading 34.6 percent opponent conversion rate. Ray Stovall (36 tackles, 9.0 TFL) and Isaiah Newsome (37 tackles, four INTs) are the playmakers for the unit.
This is a big game for both squads. The Red Wolves have the experience, but with the way Browning has played in the last few weeks the Warhawks have an advantage. Assuming he continues to have the hot hand, look for ULM to pick up a fourth straight victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 36, Arkansas State 30
11/06 10:48:00 ET