A win at Middle Tennessee State this weekend would lock in at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship. As we've all heard all year, though, the Red Wolves don't want just a piece of the pie -- they want it all.
Being the No 1. ranked team in the conference and playing the No. 7 and No. 8 teams in the last two games seems like the perfect scenario to win out, but head coach Hugh Freeze doesn't expect anyone in the Sun Belt to just hand it to them without a fight.
"The scary thing about it is these two teams have shared or either won the conference title for the last ten years. So it's not like they're gonna roll over and just let you have it, it's gonna be a battle," Freeze said.
Saturday's game features the top two ranked offenses in the Sun Belt, with Arkansas State ranked No. 1 in total offense and Middle Tennessee ranked No. 2. Red Wolf quarterback Ryan Aplin has 3,114 yards of total offense so far this season, and is one of only two players in Sun Belt Conference history to have 3,000 yards of total offense in two different seasons.
Wide receiver Dwayne Frampton nears a school record as well, needing only three receptions to break a record for a single season. Frampton is the only player in Arkansas State history to have 60 or more receptions in two different seasons.
"It's a good system for those two guys, obviously, but they still have to make the plays," Freeze said. "We're at a very comfortable level asking them to make a lot of plays for us, and so thus the results are what they are."
While the two teams may be at the top of the Conference in total offense, the difference in the game for the Red Wolves may be their defense. Arkansas State leads the conference in total defense, and is ranked No. 18 in the nation in total defense. A week ago, the Arkansas State defense, particularly the secondary, played what Freeze said was the best game they've played all year.
"I've praised our D-line all year long, but I've gotta praise the secondary for last week. I thought they did an excellent job covering a fantastic group of wide receivers from Lafayette," Freeze said. "Our defense has been steady all year, you know. We gave up some big plays early on, we've cut those down, and now they're just playing extremely well with a lot of passion."
With two days left to prepare for Middle Tennessee, Freeze was pleased with the team's mentality and work ethic as of Wednesday evening after practice.