When the teams meet Saturday night in Jonesboro, it will be the first of two meetings of two of the rising programs in college football. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Red Wolves and Aggies have each won 29 games, which ranks fourth among G5 teams.
“It is a good match-up no doubt,” said Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson. “There are a lot of similarities between us and Utah State. Both teams play extremely hard. They carry effort over into special teams. I think it is a great test of who we are.
“This team is going to look a lot more like us. I know they are going to be prepared. We are going to need a packed house. We need a good crowd, a great day. We need to eliminate mistakes and play hard and be a really good football team.
Utah State (2-1) opened the season against Tennessee and lost 38-7. A week later A-State fell to the Volunteers 34-19. Since that game, the Aggies have topped Idaho State 40-20 and Wake Forest 36-24.
“People look at Utah States game vs. Tennessee and look at the score,” said Anderson. “That is not the Utah State team I have seen in the past. This is really good football team. Physically there are match ups that are better for us the rest of the season from this point out. Nobody is going to be as big and as fast as Tennessee and Miami have been. In terms of winning and losing games every week we go out we are going to have to hold our own. This team is used to winning football games and (Utah State coach) Matt (Wells) has done a great job of getting them ready.
This is a very good gauge because there are a lot of similarities between us and Utah State. I know Matt Wells very well and I know how he addresses the team and what he expects of them, a lot of the same things that I expect. It is a going to be a good test and a good gauge for what we need the rest of the season.”
This is the first meeting of the two teams since Arkansas State won 16-7 in 2004. This contest is the first of a home-and-home contract. The Red Wolves travel to Logan in 2016. Utah State leads the series 3-2.
Despite their locations, the schools have also shared conference affiliation three times. First in the Big West in 1993-95 and again in 1999-2000. They were also partners in the Sun Belt in 2003-04.
“As I look ahead to Arkansas State, I have a great deal of respect for that program,” said Wells. “They've gone to three-straight bowl games. The winning teams that they've had continue to do it. This will be the fifth coach in five years and will probably be a bowl team. Blake Anderson has been a good friend of mine for a long time. I have a lot of respect for him and members of his staff."
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
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