Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-1, 0-0) vs. Troy Trojans (2-0, 0-0)
Arkansas State opens Sun Belt Conference play tonight at 6:30 p.m. against Troy in an ESPNU-televised game at Liberty Bank Stadium. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area and the live radio broadcast can be accessed through the Arkansas State athletics web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
THE PRINCIPALS: A-State begins its quest for a third consecutive Sun Belt Conference title Thursday against Troy, which is off to a 2-0 start with home victories over UAB (34-31) and Savannah State (66-3). The Red Wolves stand 1-1 after two games for the third consecutive season after dropping a 38-9 decision at Auburn last Saturday. A-State claimed a season-opening win for the first time since 2009 with a 62-11 victory over UAPB on Aug. 31.
BY THE NUMBERS …
1 of just 16 FBS programs to win at least 20 games over the last two years (2011 & 2012).
1 rushing touchdowns needed by David Oku to tie the ninth most (19) in school history.
1 receiving touchdown needed by Allen Muse to tie the 10th most (8) in school history.
1 field goal needed by Brian Davis to tie the fifth most in Sun Belt Conference history (45).
2 consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships (2011 & 2012).
2 consecutive bowl games, including a 17-13 victory over No. 25 Kent St. in the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
3 ASU was picked to finish 3rd in the preseason Sun Belt Coaches Poll with 45 pts. and 2 first-place votes.
4 players with 100 yards rushing vs. UAPB, making A-State just the 7th FBS team to accomplish the feat.
4 consecutive victories at Liberty Bank Stadium.
5 of the last eight seasons have seen A-State achieve bowl eligibility.
5 consecutive victories by A-State in midweek games.
5 players named to one of college football’s major award watch lists.
7 players (Albright, Carrethers, Haunga, McCants, Muse, Oliver, Williams) already with their degree.
7 preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selections, the most in the league.
7 game Sun Belt Conference winning streak held by A-State.
8 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank Stadium.
10 win seasons in 2011 & 2012, making ASU the first team in SBC history w/ back-to-back 10-win campaigns.
10 Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards over the last 11 years.
10 wins in 2012 tied the 4th most in school history & matched its most ever since joining the FBS in 1992.
10 tackles for loss per game by A-State, the third highest average in the NCAA.
12 tackles, the most by an A-State player this year, recorded by soph. DB Chris Humes against Auburn.
13 votes in the final 2012 USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, ranking A-State No. 32 in the nation.
15 Sun Belt Conference victories over its last 16 league games.
15 players named to the most recent Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List (3.5 GPA or higher).
18 A-State players named to at least one preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.
19 statistical categories in which A-State ranks among the top 50 teams in the nation after two games.
20 A-State wins over its last 26 regular-season games dating back to 2011.
23 All-Sun Belt Conference selections over the last two years combined.
27 players named to the most recent Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or higher).
28 votes in the final 2012 Associated Press Top 25 poll, ranking A-State No. 32 in the nation.
44 points needed by Brian Davis to break the Sun Belt record for career points by kicking (295).
91 yd rush by Michael Gordon vs UAPB matched the 2nd longest in ASU history.
103 receptions by J.D. McKissic last year that broke the school record for a single season.
300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 37 of its last 40 games.
400 or more yards total offense by A-State in each of its first two games.
509 rush yds in its season opener are the 2nd most in the nation and the 5th most in school history.
26,398 was ASU’s school-record home attendance for the 2012 season.
26.7 million-dollar football facility project in Liberty Bank Stadium’s north end zone announced.
HEAD COACH BRYAN HARSIN: Bryan Harsin was named the Red Wolves’ 29th head football coach on Dec. 12, 2012. Harsin is a 13-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who has coached in 10 bowl games as either an assistant or offensive coordinator. Harsin, a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the country, has been associated with two nationally-prominent programs during his rise to A-State’s head coach. Working closely with Chris Petersen at Boise State and Mack Brown at Texas, two of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Harsin spent the last seven seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Broncos and Longhorns.
HIGH MARKS: Arkansas State head football coach Bryan Harsin was ranked as the sixth best hire in the nation among 26 new coaches at the time, according to CBSSports.com. The article written by Dennis Dodd said the following when referring to A-State’s 29th head coach: “We’re talking a Sun Belt program that has changed its AD (once) and coaches (twice) over the last two years. Somehow the Red Wolves went from national championship game offensive coordinator (Malzahn) to Fiesta Bowl-winning offensive coordinator with a stop in Texas (Bryan Harsin). Not too shabby.”
THE ARKANSAS STATE - TROY SERIES: Arkansas State leads the all-time series with Troy 7-5. The Red Wolves and Trojans first met in 1951 when ASU picked up a 39-0 road victory. The two teams split a pair of games in 1991 and 1992 in Jonesboro, but have played the last nine games as Sun Belt Conference foes. The Red Wolves won the first three games as SBC opponents, the Trojans won the next four through the 2010 season, and now A-State has won the last two (45-14 in Jonesboro in 2011 and 41-34 at Troy in 2012).
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State has won its last seven consecutive Sun Belt Conference games to run its all-time record in the league to 49-37. The Red Wolves, who have won 15 of their last 16 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.
99th SEASON UNDER WAY: Arkansas State kicked off its 99th season of football Aug. 31, 2013, vs. UAPB. A-State now holds a 427-458-37 record since its inaugural 1911 season and has played in nine bowl games. ASU did not field a football team from 1942-44 due to World War II. Arkansas State also didn’t have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending.
UNBUCKLE THE BELT: The Red Wolves will open Sun Belt Conference play in their third game of the season, the earliest since 2010 when they played their second game against a league opponent. A-State is 7-5 all-time in Sun Belt Conference openers and has dropped three of the last four, including a 26-13 setback against Western Kentucky last year. The last time it won its Sun Belt opener was 2011 when it defeated Western Kentucky 26-22 to start an undefeated (8-0) run through the league.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD …: Extend its winning streak in Sun Belt Conference games to eight … Extend its home winning streak to five games … Make A-State 2-1 through three games for the third consecutive season … Give the Red Wolves their first Sun Belt Conference-opening win since 2011 and improve their record to 8-5 in such games … Extend its winning streak in midweek games to six … Improve its Sun Belt Conference record to 16-1 over the last three years … Give it three straight wins against Troy.
STOP THE BLEEDING: While Arkansas State suffered a 38-9 setback at Auburn last week to snap a nine-game winning streak, which was the second longest in the nation, it has not lost back-to-back games in the same season since dropping the last two games of the 2010 campaign.
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 a 10-3 record in all midweek games. ASU has won its last five midweek games, including a 34-20 victory over FIU on a Thursday night, a 50-27 win over UL Lafayette on a Tuesday and a 45-23 triumph over ULM on a Thursday night last season. The Red Wolves play two midweek games this season, including a Tuesday (Oct. 22) contest against Louisiana-Lafayette.
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 37-8 at Liberty Bank Stadium since the 2005 season and has won 12 of its last 13 home games. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 129-71-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU’s six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.
DAVIS HONORED: Senior kicker Brian Davis was named a national College Football Performance Awards Placekicker of the Week following the Auburn game. Davis posted a season-high three field goals, giving him 44 for his career that leaves him one shy of tying the fifth most in Sun Belt Conference history. Davis was a perfect 3-of-3 on his attempts that covered 34, 21 and 42 yards. Dating back to last season, Davis has now made his last six consecutive field goals to leave him only one short of tying the sixth longest streak in school history. Including Auburn, Davis now has 12 career games with multiple field goals made.
KENNEDY SETS NEW HIGHS: Senior QB Adam Kennedy set new season highs for passing attempts (41), completions (29), passing yards (272), rushing yards (74) and total offense (346 yards) against Auburn. He posted a .707 completion percentage, and his 29 completions tied the fifth most in school history for a single game. Kennedy averaged 6.2 yards per rush and his 74 yards on the ground led the team. He recorded a season-long run of 28 yards and also completed at least one pass covering 40 yards for the second straight game.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Four A-State players set new career highs for receptions last week, including senior WR Julian Jones (7), senior RB David Oku (6), sophomore TE Darion Griswold (5) and junior TE Kenneth Rains (3). The Red Wolves completed at least one pass to 10 different players in the game.
WELL ROUNDED: Senior RB David Oku went over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving in a game for the ninth time of his career last week. Oku posted career highs for receptions (6) and receiving yards (70) against Auburn, while also posting 48 yards on the ground.
FUMBLE enFORCER: Junior LB Qushaun Lee forced a fumble in each of the Red Wolves first two games, ranking him third in the nation in the stat. Lee has now forced four fumbles during his career, with the other two coming during his sophomore campaign last season. He has three forced fumbles over his last four regular-season games dating back to last year.
FINDING THE END ZONE: Senior running back David Oku, who posted 16 rushing touchdowns last season to tie the third most in school history, recorded two rushing touchdowns in the season opener. Oku has now recorded at least one rushing touchdown in 11 of his 15 games played at Arkansas State.
THIRD-DOWN SHOWDOWN: Arkansas State is ranked 15th in the nation in third down percentage (.567), while Troy is ranked fourth in third down percentage defense (.160). A-State has converted 17 of 30 third downs, while Troy has allowed opponents just four conversions on 26 attempts. Additionally, Troy is ranked second in the Sun Belt in offensive third down conversions (.542) and A-State second in opponent third down conversions (.276).
TOP THREE: Saturday’s game will match-up two offenses and two defenses all ranked among the top three in the Sun Belt Conference after two games. The Red Wolves and Trojans are ranked first and second in total offense, respectively. A-State is ranked tied for 16th in the nation in total offense, while Troy is 30th. Troy is ranked first in the league in total defense and A-State third.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Arkansas State has 25 underclassmen (sophomores or freshmen) listed on its 2-deep. The list includes 13 sophomores, six redshirt freshmen and six true freshmen. Among the underclassmen, six are listed as starters on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. A-State’s 25 underclassmen on its two-deep was tied for the 14th most in the nation with Colorado and Illinois according to the 2013 initial depth charts. Virginia listed 34 players on its opening-day two-deep for the most among all teams.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State ended the 2012 season receiving votes in the final major polls, including 28 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and 13 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll. Both totals placed the Red Wolves 32nd in the nation. The Red Wolves were also among “others receiving votes” in the 2013 preseason and week two USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll.
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 37 of its last 40 games. A-State finished the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl with 285 yards, snapping a streak of nine consecutive games with over 300 yards total offense.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Including a 62-point outburst in its season opener, A-State has now posted at least 30 points in 19 of its last 25 regular-season games dating back to the 2011 season. The Red Wolves’ 10 games with at least 30 points last year were their most since 1951 when it hit the total 10 times as well.
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: The Arkansas State defense recorded 15 tackles for loss in its season opener and five more last week against Auburn. Its 15 tackles for loss were the Red Wolves most ever since joining the Sun Belt Conference. A-State is ranked third in the nation in tackles for loss, led by sophomore defensive end Chris Stone’s three that rank him 47th among all players.
NCAA RECORD: A-State became the seventh FBS team in NCAA history to have four players (David Oku, Fredi Knighten, Michael Gordon, Sirgregory Thornton vs. UAPB) rush for over 100 yards in the same game. The other teams include Arizona (1951), Texas (1969), Alabama (1973), Army (1984), Nebraska (2001) and Nevada (2009).
FOR STARTERS: A-State improved to 45-47-6 all-time in season openers with its victory over UAPB on Aug. 31. The Red Wolves claimed a win in their season-opening game for the first time since 2009.
RUSHING RED WOLVES: The Red Wolves piled up 509 rushing yards versus UAPB, which were the most in the nation during the season’s first week and still stand as the second most behind BYU’s 550 last week. A-State’s total was also the fifth most in school history and the second most in Sun Belt history.
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.
HOME OPENERS: With its victory over UAPB on Aug. 31, Arkansas State won its ninth consecutive home opener dating back to the 2005 campaign. The Red Wolves now stand 29-11 all-time in home openers at Liberty Bank Stadium and are also 15-6 in such games since moving to the FBS in 1992.
RETURNING ALL-SUN BELT PEFORMERS: Arkansas State returns five All-Sun Belt Conference players from the 2012 season, including first team selections David Oku (Sr., RB) and Ryan Carrethers (Sr., DL). J.D. McKissic (So., WR) and Brian Davis (Sr., K) were both second-team choices, while Qushaun Lee (Jr., LB) was named honorable mention.
PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State placed a league-high seven players on the 2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Senior running back David Oku, sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic and sophomore center Bryce Giddens all represented the A-State offense on the preseason squad. ASU’s defensive players earning a spot on the team were senior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers, junior linebacker Qushaun Lee and junior safety Sterling Young. Senior kicker Brian Davis, also made the list.
RED WOLVES TABBED THIRD IN PRESEASON SBC POLL: The Red Wolves were picked third in the preseason coaches poll announced as part of the league’s annual Media Day. A-State received 45 points and two first-place votes behind UL Lafayette and UL Monroe, which both received 57 points.
ASU ANNOUNCES FOOTBALL FACILITY PROJECT: Arkansas State University has announced a $26.7 million football facility project, including a two-level football operations building and 76,000 square-foot indoor practice facility in ASU Stadium’s north end zone.
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State claimed its second consecutive outright Sun Belt Conference championship in 2012. ASU has won nine conference championships all-time. ASU won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968). ASU also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions. Prior to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the last time ASU won back-to-back conference championships was 1986 and 1985 when it was a member of the Southland Conference.
BACK-TO-BACK WINNING SEASONS: Arkansas State secured back-to-back winning seasons in 2011 and 2012 for the first time since 1986-87. ASU won 10 games in both 2011 and 2012, and its 19 combined regular-season victories were its most ever over a two-year span — topping its 18 in 1974 and 1975.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: Arkansas State has been bowl eligible five times over the last eight seasons, including the last two in a row.
ATTENDANCE FIGURES: Arkansas State’s average home attendance last season was a school record 26,398, topping its previous best of 21,256 in 2011. The 31,243 in attendance for A-State’s 2012 regular-season finale against Middle Tennessee was the largest in Liberty Bank Stadium history, and ASU had two home crowds over 30,000 in the same season for the first time ever.