UL-Lafayette (2-3, 1-0) at Arkansas State (3-3, 2-0)
Centennial Bank Stadium, 7 p.m.
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports. Broadcast: ESPN2.
Series Record: ULL leads 23-19-1 and has won the last two.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
It could be a knockout blow for one of last year’s two preseason favorites. Since neither plays Georgia Southern just one loss could prevent a share of the Sun Belt title. Off to a 2-0 start the Red Wolves could be looking at reaching the halfway point of the conference season at 4-0 with Georgia State looming on Halloween weekend. ULL is 1-0 after destroying Texas State in the second half. Both of these teams play Appalachian State, another of the contenders, but neither gets Ga. Southern. Ironically, App State has Ga. Southern at home on Thursday and that game is on ESPNU.
Can the A-State defensive line slow the ULL running game? It proved to be a disaster last year when the Cajuns ran wild against the Red Wolves and provided a temp plate for other teams to use against A-State. The emotional and chippy game from last year has been documented and whichever team keeps its cool and avoids stupid penalties could prove to be a difference. A-State comes in as one of the most penalized teams in the nation and had 80 more in the victory over South Alabama.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: Since it was all mash and gash for the Cajuns last year, and that is their style, the Red Wolves interior front of Waylon Roberson, Robert Mondie and Jake Swalley, etc., are able to slow or contain the rushing attack that settled the game last year. Offensively, QB Fredi Knighten has one more game under his belt and should be closer to full speed after missing more than three games with a groin strain. A big game from Knighten is vital for the Red Wolves.
UL-Lafayette: Junior Elijah McGuire is 132 yards shy of passing Michael Desormeaux (2,843 yards) for fourth-place on the school's all-time rushing list and one yard in receiving to reach the 1,000-yard mark. A-State fans painfully remember what happened a year ago, 265 yards and 4 TDs. For his career vs. the Red Wolves he is at the 375 mark. It will be interesting to see how junior Jalen Nixon, who had a career night 22-of-29 for 238 yards and four touchdowns vs. Texas State compliments McGuire.
FACTS & FIGURES
These two programs have been growing up together. They have been comrades in the Southland, Big West and now Sun Belt. A-State's 43 games played against the Ragin' Cajuns are its second most in school history behind Memphis (57). The Red Wolves have won 27 of 33 Sun Belt games (.818 winning percentage) and is 60-42 all-time in the league. ULM, ULL and A-State are original football members of the Sun Belt. Since 2010 season, Arkansas State is 13-2 in October. A-State has performed well in midweek games since joining the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves have won eight of their last 11 midweek contests. Since 2011, the Red Wolves have recorded 38 victories that are tied for the 31st most in the nation over the last five years. Like A-State, the Cajuns rallied to win their last game. A 28-point third quarter broke a halftime tie and for a 49-27 victory over Texas State. ULL has won its eighth straight conference opener. The 49 points were a season-high and 526 yards of offense marked the highest output since the Northwestern State contest (Sept. 12). ULL is 12-4 overall in October under Mark Hudspeth and the 38 victories since 2011 is tied with BYU and Arkansas State for the eighth-best total among schools in the Group of 5.
A-State’s Blake Anderson: We know it got heated and chippy with these guys last year. We don’t need that kinda game again. We should be able to get plenty of football in within 60 minutes and we don’t need that extra stuff. I know that is not who we want to be and I know Mark (Hudspeth) said that is not who they want to be. We just want to play hard football and do it the right way.”
ULL’s Mark Hudspeth: “This is going to be fun game for the fact our guys love to play Arkansas State and I know they feel the same way. It has turned into a great game. It’s been very competitive the last four years and I know it will be a great atmosphere when we go up to Jonesboro. It will be a very intense game like it was here last year. I know our players will have no problem getting ready.”