Arkansas State (2-3, 1-0) at South Alabama (3-2, 1-0)
Ladd-Pebbles Stadium, 7 p.m.
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports. Broadcast: ESPN2.
Series Record: Red Wolves lead 3-0.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
You have two teams, each already 1-0 in league play, wanting to get off to a good start and make an impression on national television. The Red Wolves’ margin for error in the conference play is not big since they don’t get to play league favorite Georgia Southern. South Alabama gets to play all four of the favorites – A-State, ULL, Ga. Southern and Appalachian State. A-State has had success in Mobile, winning two GoDaddy Bowl games in that stadium and defeating the Jaguars there 17-16 two seasons ago. That game turned the season around for A-State, which went on to win a share of the SBC title.
The A-State offensive line vs the USA defense. It is expected to the return of A-State quarterback Fredi Knighten, who has missed the last 3 contests with a groin strain. A-State coaches said Knighten’s legs are good but would love to see Red Wolves control the line of scrimmage and Knighten not have to use his legs as much. USA has allowed around 200 yards per game on the ground; the Red Wolves average 193.
Not an individual matchup but one to keep an eye on. USA is the least penalized team in the conference while Arkansas State is the most penalized, a difference of 50 yards per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: Fredi Knighten and Robert Mondie. Two big parts of the A-State attack are expected back on the field. Knighten runs the offensive show while Mondie, a transfer from UA-Birmingham, has been an impressive clog in the middle of a Red Wolves defensive line that is allowing just 169 ypg. Mondie’s return gets A-State back to near full-strength on the defensive fronts and keeps the rotations intact.
South Alabama: Aleem Sunanon. The Jaguars’ kicker is one of the best in the country and ranks among the leading scorers in the Sun Belt. He has hit on 8 of 10 field goals and is perfect on 11 extra point attempts. Also keep an eye on the receiving duo of Gerald Everitt and Josh McGee, who both average around 65 yards per game receiving per contest. The Jags’ middle linebacker Blake Dees is a transfer from Texas Tech.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Red Wolves have won 26 of their last 32 Sun Belt Conference games. J.D. McKissic became the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader in career receptions with 264. Senior running back Michael Gordon recorded a career-high 221 rushing yards against Idaho. With a career-high two interception against Idaho, senior cornerback Rocky Hayes became the fourth Sun Belt player this year with multiple picks in a game. Since 2010, A-State is 12-2 in October. The Red Wolves have won 12 of their last 15 conference road games dating back to the 2011 season. USA begins a stretch with three of four games at home. The Jaguars are 7-5 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in their first three years of league play. The Red Wolves are the only program in the conference USA has faced more than once and yet to defeat,