Appalachian State (4-5) at Arkansas State (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 15, 3 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Centennial Bank Stadium (30,964) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Appalachian State 3-2, Arkansas State 4-0. Away Record: Appalachian State 1-3, Arkansas State 2-3. Neutral Record: Appalachian State 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Conference Record: Appalachian State 3-2, Arkansas State 4-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas State Red Wolves will attempt to stay unbeaten at Centennial Bank Stadium this season, as they take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers in a Sun Belt Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.
Appalachian State buried itself in the standings following a 1-5 start to the campaign but has since turned things around with three straight wins to move to 3-2 in the league. Last week's victory was arguably the Mountaineers' most impressive of the season, as they erased a double-digit deficit to defeat ULM, 31-29.
Since losing to Louisiana on Oct. 21 (55-40), Arkansas has won back-to-back games against Idaho (44-28) and South Alabama (45-10) to move to 6-3 and gain bowl eligibility. The Red Wolves, who are 4-0 at home, and are 4-1 in league action, looking up at both Louisiana (5-0) and Georgia Southern (7-0) in the standings.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two newly formed conference rivals.
The Mountaineers have played very well on the offensive side of the ball in putting up 34.6 ppg and 459.1 ypg. They underperformed for most of last week in picking up just 380 yards but came up big when it counted most in orchestrating a seven-play, 53-yard drive in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning field goal.
The centerpiece of the offense is in the backfield, as Marcus Cox is in the midst of an outstanding season with 913 yards and 13 touchdowns on 154 carries (5.9 ypc). Most of Appalachian State's production comes on the ground with 240.9 ypg rushing.
Taylor Lamb took over the starting quarterback duties from Kameron Bryant earlier in the season and has been largely impressive, completing just shy of 62 percent of his passes for 1,708 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions while picking up an additional 376 yards and three scores on the ground.
Simms McElfresh has a team-high 35 receptions for 384 yards and has been on the receiving end of five touchdowns. Malachi Jones is also having a strong campaign out wide with 31 catches, 466 yards and three scores.
The Mountaineers' defense (28.0 ppg, 359.1 ypg) is much improved in recent weeks, allowing just 14.3 ppg in their last three after allowing 34 points or more four times in their first six games.
John Law has a team-best 65 tackles and has made plays all over the field with 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Doug Middleton, Joel Ross and Latrell Gibbs have combined for eight interceptions, and Ronald Blair is impressive on the defensive line with 9.0 TFL and 4.0 sacks.
The Red Wolves boast an outstanding offense (34.0 ppg, 461.1 ypg), especially in recent weeks, as they have scored 40 or more in four straight.
Fredi Knighten has been great as a dual-threat option at quarterback. He has gaudy rushing numbers, turning 152 carries into 547 yards and eight touchdowns, but that success hasn't taken away from his passing ability, as he's completing greater than 63 percent of his throws for 2,065 yards with 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
Michael Gordon is an explosive option out of the backfield. On just 100 carries he's picked up 757 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Knighten's most trusted receiver is J.D. McKissic (43 receptions, 512 yards), but he has yet to find the end zone. Dijon Paschal is a big play waiting to happen with 510 yards and four touchdowns on just 28 catches (18.2 ypc). Tres Houston (36 receptions, 399 yards, two TDs) has also been impressive out wide.
The Red Wolves' have also performed well on defense, allowing just 24.0 ppg and 370.2 ypg while ranking tied for 12th in the country in takeaways with 22. They held South Alabama to only 201 yards a week ago.
Xavier Woodson (70 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, FF) and Qushaun Lee (63 tackles, 5.5 TFL, sack, four INTs, two FF) are both well on their way to being named All-Conference selections at linebacker at year's end. Ja'Von Rolland- Jones has caused havoc in the backfield with 11.5 TFL and 7.0 sacks, and Artez Brown has picked off three passes.
Although the Mountaineers have turned their season around of late, they have yet to face a conference matchup as difficult as playing the Red Wolves on the road. Against a shaky Appalachian State defense, expect Arkansas State's streak of 40-point performances to continue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 42, Appalachian State 27
11/12 10:41:58 ET