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Arkansas State (3-4) at South Alabama (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 2, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ladd Peebles Stadium (40,000) -- Mobile, Alabama. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Arkansas State 3-1, South Alabama 2-1. Away Record: Arkansas State 0-3, South Alabama 1-3. Neutral Record: Arkansas State 0-0, South Alabama 0-0. Conference Record: Arkansas State 1-1, South Alabama 1-2. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The South Alabama Jaguars will try to right the ship after a brutal loss this past weekend, as they get set to take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves in a Sun Belt Conference clash at Ladd Peebles Stadium.
After Ross Metheny threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodson with 1:32 to play it looked like South Alabama might be able to pull out a win over Texas State last Saturday. However, the Bobcats drove down the field and Jason Dann drilled a last second field goal to drop the Jaguars to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in league action. The setback was the third in the last four games for the Jaguars, who have been defeated by a combined 11 points in their four losses.
Arkansas State has been off for nearly two weeks as its last contest came on Oct. 22. In that game, the Red Wolves were bested by Louisiana, 23-7 at home. The loss was the third in the last four games for the Red Wolves, who have failed to score more than 10 points in three games already this season. Arkansas State has an identical overall record (3-4), but has split its only two league games to this point.
South Alabama got a chance to play Arkansas State for the first time last year. Arkansas State took a 36-29 decision in Jonesboro.
The Red Wolves are a team in the bottom half of the Sun Belt in terms of offensive success. Currently there are four teams producing more yards (436.6 ypg) and points per game (27.6 ppg) in the league.
In the loss to Louisiana, the Red Wolves came nowhere near those numbers as they had just 168 yards of total offense and 10 first downs. Quarterback Adam Kennedy really struggled in the contest as he had just 89 yards on 11-of-20 passing. Kennedy has not been finishing drives in the end zone, despite being efficient, throwing for 1,663 yards, on 66.8 percent passing.
Obviously it wasn't just Kennedy that struggled against Louisiana. Leading rusher David Oku managed just 15 yards on six carries in the losing effort. Oku really hasn't been a player that can be counted on to break off big runs all season as he is averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt with a season-long of 23 yards. Still Oku has a team-best in yards (411) and touchdowns (five).
In terms of pass catchers, J.D. McKissic and Julian Jones have accounted for more than half of the receptions accumulated by the Red Wolves. McKissic is the leader with 41 receptions but for only 359 yards. Jones is certainly a bigger threat to pick up yards, as he has tallied 476 yards on 39 receptions while also scoring a team-high three touchdowns.
Arkansas State has given up the third-most rushing yards (1,421) in the Sun Belt this season en route to being an overall defensive squad that ranks sixth in the conference in total yards allowed (443.1 ypg). Against the Ragin' Cajuns, the Red Wolves exceeded that average and let up 470 yards. Ryan Carrethers (54 tackles, 3.5 sacks) is one of few effective pass rushers on the roster.
Metheny has helped lead one of the more impressive offenses in the country at South Alabama. In terms of total offense, the Jaguars are ranked third in the conference (446.6 ypg).
Metheny has been a major reason why, as he has piled up 1,589 yards and nine touchdowns on 63.4 percent passing. Metheny was picked off once against Texas State but otherwise put forth one of his best efforts of the season. In the losing effort, Metheny threw for 300 yards and three scores on 27-of-43 passing. Metheny is also a solid threat when he takes off on his own as he averages 4.7 yards per carry and has scored a team-high eight rushing touchdowns.
There is no one dominant receiver for the Jaguars. Wes Saxton (35 receptions, 447 yards) is the most reliable. Shavarez Smith (26 receptions, 474 yards, two TDs) is more of a scoring threat, while Jereme Jones (26 receptions, 327 yards, two TDs) and Woodson (24 receptions, 385 yards, four TDs) are also capable. Woodson was excellent against Texas State with 118 yards and two scores on five catches.
The top rusher on the squad is Jay Jones, who has tallied just 393 yards and three touchdowns this season. Though he averages just 56.1 yards per game, Jay Jones clearly has some skill as he is picking up 5.5 yards per attempt. He was stifled against Texas State though with just 15 yards in five carries.
The Jaguars have had slightly more success than the Red Wolves. South Alabama is currently fifth in the Sun Belt in total defense (416 ypg). The team has managed to collected 18 sacks but has been rather weak in the red zone with the worst opponent conversion rate (25-of-29) in the league.
Right now South Alabama just doesn't seem to be a team that knows how to win. The Jaguars have been in every game they have played yet still have a record below .500. Some home-cooking could help this week as well as an Arkansas State squad that has struggled itself.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 34, Arkansas State 28
10/30 10:39:55 ET