Last year: The Golden Lions are coming off a dream season. They finished 10-2, won their first Southwestern Athletic Association championship and defeated Jackson State 24-21. Quarterback Ben Anderson had a big year, passing for 2,346 yards and 524 yards rushing. He threw for 16 touchdowns and ran for five others. Anderson was MVP opf the title game. RB Justing Billings ran for 852 yards. OT Terron Armstead was a first-round draft choice of the Saints and DE Brandon Thurmond, the FCS sack leader and Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and LB Bill Ross, and the 2012 SWAC leader in tackles.
This year: UAPB returns 10 starters on offense and nine on defense and two more on special teams. In The Sporting News preseason poll, the Golden Lions are ranked 16th. They are the favorite to win the West Division title.
Preseason All-SWAC: QB Ben Anderson, RB Justin Billings, WR Ladarius Eckwood, TE Dezmond Beverly, OT Kenny Eagle; DL Damien Lee, DL Dearcus Berry, LB Jeer-Ryan Harris, LB Xavier Lofton and OL Keathric Brown.
Coach speak: "I feel we're evenly matched with them," UAPB's Monte Coleman.
Analysis: Since Steve Roberts took over the program at ASU, the school has not lost to a lower division team. We expect that pattern to continue. Even though ASU has destroyed the last two SWAC teams to come to Jonesboro, we don't expect the game to get out of hand. UAPB is one of the strongest SWAC programs and will be fired-up to play this one, but we feel the Red Wolves have the better talent.
We expect, if ASU can, to run a conservative offense and not show a lot. The Troy and Memphis games are the most important of September and when we expect to see more variety in the Red Wolves' offense.
Score: A-State 42, UAPB 21.
Scouting Report: UAPB
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