Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Liberty Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Media: ESPN2, Live stats: AStateRedWolves.com
Arkansas State returns to league play Tuesday at 7 p.m. when it hosts co-preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite Louisiana-Lafayette in an ESPN2-televised game at Liberty Bank Stadium. The live radio broadcast can be accessed through the A-State athletics Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
A pair of undefeated teams early in Sun Belt Conference play will clash Tuesday when 1-0 A-State hosts 2-0 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves, coming off their second open week of the season, carry a 3-3 overall record into the game, while the Ragin’ Cajuns bring a four-game winning streak and 4-2 overall mark into the contest. Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, which both played in bowl games the last two years, have combined to post a 45-19 record since 2011. The two teams met on a Tuesday night in an ESPN2 televised game last year as well with the Red Wolves claiming a 50-27 victory in Lafayette.
QUICK GLANCE: Tuesday’s game will pit two of the league’s top four ranked teams in both scoring offense and scoring defense against one another, and the two teams possess the conference’s No. 1 (Louisiana) and No. 2 (A-State) ranked rushing attacks. A-State is ranked No. 2 in the conference in total offense (481.3 ypg) and Louisiana is No. 5, while the Red Wolves are No. 6 in total defense (440.2 ypg) and the Ragin’ Cajuns No. 3 (400.5 ypg). Another area to watch is the turnovers battle as A-State is ranked tied for 11th in the nation in turnovers lost (6) and Louisiana No. 7 in turnovers gained (16).
STARTING STRONG: With the Red Wolves victory over UAPB, Bryan Harsin became the Red Wolves first head coach to win his inaugural game at the school since Larry Lacewell in 1979. ASU’s previous seven head coaches all suffered setbacks in their first game, including Al Kincaid, Ray Perkins, John Bobo, Joe Hollis, Steve Roberts, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn.
THE ARKANSAS STATE - LOUISIANA SERIES: Arkansas State holds an all-time on-field record of 19-21-1 against Louisiana in the series that dates back to the 1953 season. As Sun Belt Conference opponents, Louisiana leads the series 6-5, but the Red Wolves have won the last two meetings. While A-State picked up a 50-27 win in Lafayette last year, the home team has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. Nine of the last 13 meetings have been decided by six points or less. Tuesday’s game will be the 42nd meeting all-time between ASU and Louisiana. A-State’s 41 games played against the Ragin’ Cajuns are the second most against any opponent in school history behind only its 57 played against Memphis.
FAMILIAR FOE: While Arkansas State and Louisiana have both played as members of the Sun Belt Conference since the league’s inaugural football season in 2001, it is not the first time the two teams have shared a conference. The Red Wolves and Ragin’ Cajuns were both members of the Big West Conference from 1993 to 1995 and the Southland Conference from 1971 to 1981.
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State has won its last eight consecutive Sun Belt Conference games to run its all-time record in the league to 50-37. The Red Wolves, who have won 16 of their last 17 league games, hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 21. With the exception of Texas State and Georgia State, which are in their first season as a member of the league, the Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed in 2001. Along with Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since 2001.
MIDWEEK MONSTERS: Historically, A-State has performed well in midweek games since joining the Sun Belt Conference. Since the 2001 campaign, the Red Wolves hold an 11-3 record in all midweek games. ASU has won its last six midweek games, including a 41-34 victory over Troy on a Thursday night ESPNU game earlier this year.
RED WOLVES OCTOBER: Arkansas State is undefeated in October over the last two seasons with an 8-0 record over that span and has won its last nine games in the month dating back to the 2010 season. A-State’s first outing in October last year began a 7-game winning streak to close out its regular season. The Red Wolves’ first game in October of 2011 was its second outing in a string of nine straight wins to end the regular season.
COMING OFF THE OPEN WEEK: Arkansas State is coming off the second of two open weeks this season, with the other being prior to the Oct. 12 game against Idaho. Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 10-6 record in games played after an open week. A-State has won nine of its last 10 games played following an open week.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD …: Make the Red Wolves 4-3 through seven games for the second consecutive year … Give it seven consecutive victories at Liberty Bank Stadium and secure a winning home record for the ninth straight season … Extend its winning streak in the month of October to 10 games … Give it 10 wins over its last 11 games played following an open week … Give it nine consecutive Sun Belt Conference victories … Extend its winning streak in midweek games to seven … Give it seven straight victories at Liberty Bank Stadium.
KNOCKING OFF THE FAVORITE: Arkansas has defeated the top pick in the Sun Belt Conference preseason coaches poll each of the last three seasons. The Red Wolves knocked off preseason favorite FIU in both 2012 and 2011 and Middle Tennessee in 2010.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 5-1 home mark last season, Arkansas State secured its eighth consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 39-8 at Liberty Bank Stadium since the 2005 season and has won 14 of its last 15 home games. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 131-71-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU’s six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.