Arkansas State (9-4 in 2015) vs. Toledo (9-4 in 2014), Friday, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
Centennial Bank Stadium
Series Record: Toledo leads 4-0. The Rockets had a 37-7 victory last season in Toledo and a 63-44 win in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl. Toledo’s other two victories both came at home in 1990 (43-28) and 1992 (49-0). It is the third meeting between the two in the last 15 contests.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Perhaps a lot of pride for the Red Wolves, who have been manhandled in the last two meetings between the team, including 37-7 last year where A-State was down 10-0 before running a play. It is a meeting for two of the top Group of 5 programs who both have the goal of playing in a BCA bowl game on Jan. 1.
Arkansas State’s defensive line vs Toledo’s offensive line. The Red Wolves return all but one key player from last season up front and add Alabama transfer Dee Liner. The Rockets have four starters back from an OL that was rebuilt last year. This is game that has been won at the line of scrimmage the past two meetings and Toledo has clearly had the upper hand both times.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: A-back Cameron Echols-Luper. He hasn’t played a game for the REd Wolves yet but the speedy TCU transfer carries some lofty expectations from the A-State fan base. The plan is to use CEL in a lot of different ways, including as punter..
USC: RB Kareem Hunt. Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson kidded he has been trying to talk Hunt into turning pro the last two years. A-State still hasn’t tackled him from the GoDaddy Bowl when he scored 5 TDs and ran for 271 yards. He’ll be running behind an experienced offensive line.
FACTS & FIGURES
Arkansas State and Toledo are tied for 22nd nationally with the most victory in FBS over the past five seasons with 44. A-State is entering its third year under Blake Anderson, who is 16-10 at the school. A-State is the only FBS program in the nation to win four league championships over the last five seasons. Anderson is the only coach in school history to direct A-State to 16 wins in 25 or fewer games. The Red Wolves have won their first game at Centennial Bank Stadium in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Arkansas State is 30-12 all-time in home openers and is also 16-7 since moving to FBS status in 1992. Jason Candle was named head coach at Toledo on Dec. 2. He served as Toledo’s associate head coach/offensive coordinator and is the 27th head football coach in the 95-year history of Toledo football. In 2015 Toledo defeated Arkansas and Iowa State and had a stretch of five consecutive years with wins over ‘Power Five’ Conference opponents from 2006-2010.
On offense, the Rockets return eight starters including a pair of All-MAC running backs in senior Hunt (973 yards, 12 touchdowns) and junior Terry Swanson (923 yards, 7 touchdowns), All-MAC wide receiver and return man Corey Jones, four starters from the offensive line and junior Logan Woodside, the starting quarterback from 2014.
On defense 21 lettermen and 4starters return, including senior All-MAC safety DeJuan Rogers, two-time All-MAC senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester and junior linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley, the 2015 Marmot Boca Raton Defensive MVP.