Arkansas State will play its first in-state opponent since also facing Central Arkansas in 1997.
The game should be a near sellout for the Red Wolves and rival the 28,872 from the home opener two weeks ago against regional rival Memphis.
The Red Wolves, winners of their last seven games against FCS opponents, will be looking to improve to 2-0 playing in front of the home crowd while UCA has both its game away from home for a 1-2 record.
The game will mark the last non-conference game of the season as Arkansas State prepares for a streak of eight consecutive nonconference games to end the season, including next two on the road at Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe making this game against UCA a must win for momentum going into the meat of the schedule.
Arkansas State has played nine schools that are current members of the Southland Conference holding an all-time record of 58-45-5 against those teams. The last time ASU played a Southland Conference team was in 2001 when ASU, then known as the Indians, dropped a 28-22 decision to Nichols State.
Arkansas State has three receivers ranked in the top 10 in the Sun Belt Conference in receiving yards in Josh Jarboe, Dwayne Frampton and Taylor Stockemer. Jarboe is fourth with 258 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaging 16.1 yards per catch.
Arkansas State has now completed at least one pass of over 50 yards in each of its first three games. Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin completed passes of 71 yards vs. Memphis, 65 vs. Illinois and 51 vs. Virginia Tech. All three completions have been to different receivers, including Josh Jarboe, Dwayne Frampton and Taylor Stockemer. The Red Wolves are averaging 4.3 plays per game where it gains at least 20 yards.
Give ASU its best record through four games since 2008 when it started 3-1, while also giving the Red Wolves at least two non-conference victories in the same season since the same 2008 season. A victory would also be ASU's seventh consecutive victory over an FCS opponent and move its home record at ASU Stadium since 2005 to 26-7.
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Arkansas State and Central Arkansas since 1997. A-State and UCA have actually played 23 times since 1916, but will meet this year for just the third time since 1947. While UCA holds a 12-9-2 lead in the all-time series, ASU won both games played in the modern era. A-State picked up a narrow 36-35 win in 1997 and defeated UCA 17-7 in 1996, both victories coming in Jonesboro.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Dating back to last season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 14 of its last 15 games. ASU's school-record 14 consecutive games with over 300 yards of total offense came to an end last week when Virginia Tech limited the Red Wolves to 269 yards. ASU posted over 300 yards of total offense in just six games the season prior to Hugh Freeze taking over as offensive coordinator.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Red Wolves defense recorded at least three sacks and eight tackles for loss in two of its first three games this season. A-State posted eight or more tackles behind the line of scrimmage in three games for all of last season and had three or more sacks in three games last year as well. ASU is ranked 13 in the nation in tackles for loss (8.3pg) and tied for 16th in sacks (3.3 pg).
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEKS GAME: Arkansas State vs. Central Arkansas, Sept. 24. The Red Wolves stand 6-5 all-time versus UCA in games played in Jonesboro, including a 101-0 win in 1917 that stands as the largest margin of victory in school history. At the same time, UCA handed A-State its largest margin of defeat with a 95-0 win in Jonesboro in 1937.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Arkansas State must continue to protect junior quarterback Ryan Aplin behind an offensive line that features only one starter from the 2010 season. The Red Wolves, who sport a turnover margin of minus-3, must limit its mistakes in this game much like they did in a huge victory two weeks at home against Memphis.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ryan Aplin -- Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin passed for at least 200 yards for the 13th time of his career last game with 205 yards to his credit, and all 13 games have come over his last 17 played. Aplin has recorded over 300 yards of total offense six times during his career, including the Illinois game with 301 yards.
LB Qushaun Lee -- A redshirt freshman, Lee is the only ASU player to increase his tackles each game this season. Lee opened the year with four stops against Illinois before coming back to record six against Memphis and seven against Virginia Tech.
WR Josh Jarboe -- After three games the redshirt junior is ranked No. 39 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game at 86.0.