Arkansas State will play for their second consecutive Sun Belt Conference Championship here in Jonesboro on Saturday.
The Red Wolves will host Middle Tennessee in a 2:00 p.m. ball game, a contest that will decide the outright Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Both teams enter the game with matching 8-3 (6-1) records, this will be the second straight year that ASU will play host for an undisputed crown.
"It's a big deal for our guys," ASU Defensive Coordinator John Thompson told media after a recent ASU practice. "Im very happy for our team, its a culmination of everyones hard work. I have been coaching for a long time and anytime you are playing for a conference title, it's special."
Despite having a bye week for the Thanksgiving Holidays, it appears that didn't keep Thompson and his staff from preparing for the Blue Raiders.
"We practiced three days last week before letting them go for some time off," Thompson said. We devoted Tuesdays and Wednesdays practice to Middle and got a little work done on them on Monday."
Often when a team takes extended time off for the holidays, it's often that some players may be late returning to campus due to travel delays and car issues, this wasn't the case for Arkansas State.
"Everyone was back today on time, that's not normal in a lot of football programs," Thompson said. "Usually a plane gets delayed, someone gets a flat tire, it was good to see all of our guys back on time and ready to go to work. This is the type of young men we have here at Arkansas State."
According to Thompson, Sunday's practice was a good beginning of a big week of work to prepare for the conference championship.
"Our guys were tuned in today," Thompson said. "There were a lot of pads popping, they are very focused on the task at hand."
Thompson was happy with the teams attitude on returning back to campus Sunday.
"I think we came back better, fresher with clear thoughts and a clear mind," Thompson said. "Our team don't anything less than a conference championship."? Senior Linebacker Nathan Herrold echoed those sentiments.
"I'm very happy that Middle won Saturday," Herrold said. "We didn't want play for a share, we wanted them to win so this would be the biggest game of the year for both of us. It will mean more to win the conference championship outright."
"It's great to get Don back even if its for a half," Thompson said. "I told him and the team earlier this year that we are only guaranteed 12 games in one year, we need play our hardest in all of them."
After playing a very physical game at Troy, Thompson is ready for this week's battle against Middle Tennessee feels that his team is fairly healthy.
"We know that Middle will come out ready to play," Thompson said. "We are as healthy as we could be at this point. Everyone was out there tonight and practiced with no issues."
According to Thompson Middle doesn't make mistakes and the Blue Raiders are one of the best teams in the nation in forcing turnovers.
Saturday's Sun Belt Conference Championship tilt will be played on ESPN3.com and it will be Back in Black Day for the Red Wolves. All ASU fans are encouraged to dress in their best Black ASU attire.