Georgia State (2-4, 1-1) at Arkansas State (4-3, 3-0)
Centennial Bank Stadium, 6 p.m.
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports. Broadcast: ESPN3.
Series Record: Arkansas State leads 2-0.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The Red Wolves survived the showdown with UL-Lafayette and now has to try and avoid a major letdown before the next big test, Thursday at Appalachian State. Meanwhile, Georgia State comes to Jonesboro with confidence after winning at Ball State 31-19 two weeks ago and having an off week. The Panthers’ two victories have come on the road (34-32 at New Mexico State) and their late October and GSU is still in the league race and could be thinking about a bowl game with an upset of the Red Wolves. This one was a blowout a year ago and was 31-3 at the half but the last time the Atlanta team played here it was a 35-33 A-State victory and GSU missed a tying two-point play with 2:13 left.
Can the A-State defensive slow the GSU passing game and can the Panthers solve the Red Wolves’ rushing game?
Georgia State is the top passing team in the league with senior QB Nick Arbuckle and a trio of top receivers in freshman Penny Hart, junior Robert Davis and Donovan Harden. The Panthers average 312 yards per game passing and Arbuckle is completing 66 percent of his throws and has 11 TDs and just 6 interceptions. Hart and Davis rank in the top 10 in the league in receiving. AState is the top ranked SBC team in pass defense efficiency. The Red Wolves are currently No. 16 in the nation in pass defense efficiency (105.0), while Georgia State is No. 34 in pass efficiency (145.07).
Arkansas State has emerged as one of the top running teams in the league and had 300-plus vs. ULL in its last game. The Panthers are allowing around 200 per game on the ground. Last year ASU ran for 384 yards and passed for 234. Michael Gordon finished with 188 rushing and 2 TDs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: A lot of emphasis will be placed on the Red Wolves’ secondary but the key for A-State will come from how the defensive front and ends Chris Stone, Ja'Von Rolland-Jones and Chase Robison can put pressure on the Panthers’ passers. The Red Wolves are second in the conference in sacks. If A-State can apply pressure up front on a QB who is a pocket passer it takes pressure off the secondary.
Georgia State: Senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle leads a talented passing game. He has a trio of top-flight receivers in Hart, Davis and Harden. GSU only rushes for about 85 yards per game and the Panthers will need to establish some type of running game to keep pressure off Arbuckle, who has passed for 1,961 yards, 11 touchdowns. Another key Panther is kicker Will Lutz, who leads the league in punting at 45.2 per kick and is 8 of 11 on field goals and 17 of 17 on PATs.
FACTS & FIGURES
Arkansas State, winners of three straight, has been a very good October team since 2010, running up a 14-2 mark. A-State has played just twice in 27 days. Red Wolves carry a 28-6 Sun Belt record in the last four-plus seasons and is 24-4 at home during that period. The Red Wolves have recorded more than 200 rushing yards in five of seven games and more than 400 yards total offense in four outings. A-State has scored at least 30 in 36 of its last 54 regular-season contests. The Red Wolves have four defensive TDs, which is tied for the second most in the nation and leads the nation with 15 picks.
Arbuckle passed for 412 yards and three touchdowns and Robert Davis had career highs with nine catches for 125 yards in 31-19 victory over Ball State. GSU limited Ball State to 19 points, the fewest points allowed under Trent Miles and no run longer than 13 yards and no pass longer than 19 yards. Arbuckle ranks eighth in FBS in passing with 326.8 yards per game. He also leads the conference in completion percentage (66.2) and total offense (317.3) while is second in pass efficiency (150.2) and third in touchdown passes (11). GSU’s has eight pass play 50 yards or longer and four different receivers have been involved. Senior linebacker Joseph Peterson leads the Sun Belt with 10.7 tackles per game, good for 10th in FBS.
A-State’s Blake Anderson: Seems like it has been a while since we had a normal game week. We just have to focus on the game. Everybody else can concentrate on all the other stuff. Georgia State is coming off a win vs. Ball State and are a better team than we played a year ago. I just want to focus on the task at hand.
We have got to create some pressure for Arbuckle. He throws the ball really well. So we have got to make sure he moves in the pocket and makes that pocket as uncomfortable as possible. They’ve done a really good job with special teams and I think that will be a factor in the game and we have to run the ball well.
Georgia State’s Trent Miles: “We are looking forward to the game against Arkansas State and from watching the film they are one of the top teams in our conference so far. … We will have our hands full but I guarantee that we will show up barring any unforeseen travel issues.