Arkansas State vs WKU Preview

No one realized that last year's Sun Belt Conference opener between Arkansas State and Western Kentucky would decide the league's champion. Arkansas State won in come back fashion late in the game and didn't lose again until their Bowl game. Western Kentucky hasn't lost a Sun Belt game since either. Go "Inside" this Preview of Saturday's big match up between the two teams.

The match-up:

The Red Wolves are off to a 2-2 start for the second consecutive year. A-State will carry an eight-game conference winning streak into Saturday's game. Western Kentucky brings a 3-1 record and two-game winning streak into the game, picking up victories over Kentucky and Southern Miss its last two times outings. ASU?defeated WKU?26-22 in both team's 2011 league opener, but the Hilltoppers won their final seven Sun Belt games to give them the nation's third longest conference winning streak.

At Stake: This is a key game for Arkansas State, one that could mean whether the Red Wolves can compete to repeat as Sun Belt Conference champions.

Keys to the Game: 1) Get the offense rolling. WKU fields an impressive defense - one that limited Alabama to under 350 yards of total offense. It could be a challenge to move the football on a good WKU defense. 2) No turnovers. WKU lost to Alabama 35-0, but coughed up the ball three times that resulted in a lopsided loss. Recent games between these two teams have been close and ball protection is essential for the Red Wolves to win. 3) Stop the WKU rushing attack. WKU is a balanced football team, but their rushing games favors them against a Red Wolves defense that has struggled to stop the run.

Arkansas State rushing versus the Western Kentucky ground defense: Arkansas State is ranked No. 10 nationally among the 120 FBS teams in rushing offense, going for almost 270 yards a game. The Red Wolves will face a WKU with in an impressive run defense, one ranked No. 28 and giving up just 112 yards a game.

Advantage: Arkansas State

Arkansas State passing versus the Western Kentucky secondary: Through four games, A-State is ranked No. 51 in passing offense, throwing for an average of 250 yards a game and is completing passes at a 61 percent clip. Western Kentucky is ranked an impressive No. 15 in pass defense, giving up just 669 yards in four games.

Advantage: Even

Western Kentucky rushing versus the Arkansas State ground defense: Western Kentucky is ranked No. 36 in rushing offense going for around 205 yards a game. The Red Wolves will try to defense Western Kentucky's rushing attack with a defense ranked No. 107. The defense averages giving up 220 yards a game on the ground.

Edge: Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky passing versus the Arkansas State secondary: WKU is ranked No. 71 in passing and is throwing for 220 yards a game and hitting on almost 70 percent of its passes. The Red Wolves are just a step behind Western Kentucky's pass defense, ranked No. 16 and giving up just 669 yards through four games.

Edge: Even

Special Teams: Arkansas State is No. 16 in kick off return defense, giving up just 16 yards a return. The Red Wolves are also No. 46 in punt return defense giving up only 5.5 yards a return. Neither team is ranked in the top 50 defensively in other special teams categories, including net punting.

Edge: Even

Weather forecast: Weather for Saturday is forecasted for partly cloudy skies and a 20 percent change of rain with a high of 77 and a low of 61.

Broadcast information: The game will be televised on ESPN3. All Arkansas State University Football Games can also be heard on EAB Networks across the State of Arkansas, on the Flagship Network of Arkansas State Athletics on 107.9 KFIN or a live stream on AStateRedWolves.com.

Prediction: Arkansas State 31 - WKU 30