Twice in series history the South Alabama Jaguars have had the Arkansas State Red Wolves on the ropes and each times they escaped and A-State went on to win the Sun Belt Conference title.
The most recent was last season’s 49-31 A-State victory that the Jags led 24-20 going into the fourth quarter.
"In the game of football, anything can happen,” said USA tight end Gerald Everett. “Last year things went awry and got out of hand late in the second half. I feel like we are more prepared this season. We are going to be opportunist at every skill group and position group, so we are definitely going to capitalize coming off a big win like San Diego State,’’
A-State, which leads the series 4-0, has trailed entering the fourth quarter in three of the meetings.
“I think we are going to get the kitchen sink; we are going to get their best game,” said Red Wolves coach Blake Anderson. “They are oh and 2 in conference play and they can't afford to go down oh and 3. I think that takes you out of a realistic share of a conference title.
“This group of guys hasn't beaten Arkansas State since they have been in the league. You name it, the fact that it is the next game and they just came off a big win. We are going to get everything they got. We are going to have to play at our best.”
Joey Jones has been the South Alabama coach each season. The Jaguars have the Sun Belt’s two best victories this season -- over top 20 San Diego State and Mississippi State -- they have dropped league games to UL-Lafayette and Georgia Southern.
"Whether we won or lost (last year) has no effect on this team. We've got a team that is sticking together, that's one thing we've been focused on. We've had four games come down to the wire and won three of them. Our guys are focusing on ourselves. They know it's an Arkansas State team that's been dominant in our conference, but focusing on ourselves is what is going to help us win."
The Red Wolves won at home 45-10 in 2014. A year before they trailed 16-10 going into the final quarter and turned the season around with the use of the read-option series with Adam Kennedy (65 yards rushing; Fredi Knighten 54 yards).
And in the first meeting, 2012 in Jonesboro, the Red Wolves trailed 10-0 and led just 28-22 in the fourth quarter
"We feel good coming in off of the bye week, we definitely needed it,’’ said Everett. We were able to get some rest that we needed and were able to get our legs back under us so that we can get ready for Arkansas State.
"Since the season has started, it's been kind of a roller coaster ride for us coming off wins and losses. We are back in the win column coming off of the San Diego State game and we just want to keep that momentum alive and see how far our team can go. Our game against Arkansas State will provide the perfect opportunity for us the do that with them coming off their win over Georgia Southern. I feel like that game will give us an identity and show that we can come out and play up to our potential."