Arkansas State (2-2) at Missouri (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Faurot Field (67,124) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: ESPN3.com, CSS. Home Record: ASU 2-0, Missouri 2-0. Away Record: ASU 0-2, Missouri 1-0. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 1-0, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: Missouri leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers will attempt to keep their undefeated start to the season alive on Saturday evening when they welcome the Arkansas State Red Wolves to Faurot Field.
Arkansas State, the two-time reigning Sun Belt Conference champions, have had an up-and-down start to the 2013 campaign, alternating wins with losses through its first four games. After defeating Troy at home in their conference opener on Sept. 12, the Red Wolves followed that with a disappointing 31-7 loss at Memphis last week.
Missouri is 3-0 for the first time since starting 7-0 in 2010. All three of the Tigers' triumphs have come by at least 15 points, with their most recent victory coming in convincing fashion at Indiana last weekend, 45-28. With the win, head coach Gary Pinkel tied Dan Devine for second place in school history with 93 wins, and he needs eight more to match Don Faurot for the program record of 101.
These two programs have played twice before, with Missouri winning both in 2004 and 2005.
The Red Wolves offense has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde unit this year. In two home games, they've scored a whopping 51.5 ppg, but in a pair of away contests that number plummets to just 8.0 ppg. Overall they are averaging 472.0 ypg.
The offense revolves around the ground attack, with 961 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns over the first four games. David Oku is the bell cow, turning 65 carries in 291 yards and four touchdowns, while Michael Gordon (219 yards, three TDs) and Fredi Knighten (145 yards, three TDs) have each displayed incredible explosiveness as both average more than 12 yards per attempt.
Adam Kennedy is called upon to be more of a game manager than a gun-slinger. He has completed 62.9 percent of his pass attempts for 869 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Julian Jones (23 catches, 198 yards, TD) has more than twice as many receptions as anyone else on the team, while Allen Muse (11 catches, 207 yards, TD) is a dangerous deep threat.
Arkansas State's defense (28.5 ppg, 440.0 ypg) has underwhelmed since allowing just 11 points in the opener, as it has yielded 31 points or more in three straight outings.
One thing the Red Wolves excel at is applying pressure in the backfield, having racked up 31 TFL and 9.0 sacks. Ryan Carrethers is the unit's top playmaker with 28 tackles, 4.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks, while Qushaun Lee (32 tackles, sacks, two FF), Chris Humes (29 tackles, 3.0 TFL, sack, FF) and Amos Draper (3.0 TFL, INT, FF) are also off to fast starts.
Missouri has moved the ball at will during its first three games, piling up 567.0 ypg and 47.0 ppg, both of which rank in the top-10 in the nation. The Tigers have one of the most balanced offenses in the SEC. Last week they had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers for the first time in program history.
Senior quarterback James Franklin is in mid-season form under center. Not only is he completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 873 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, but he is also a major factor in the run game (182 yards, TD).
The Tigers have no shortage of rushing threats to plug in behind Franklin, with Russell Hansbrough (239 yards, three TDs), Henry Josey (186 yards, three TDs) and Marcus Murphy (179 yards, three TDs) each a threat to take it to the house on any given touch.
Dorial Green-Beckham (17 receptions, 239 yards, two TDs) is rounding into the complete receiver Missouri knew it had when it brought him in as a highly- touted recruit a few years ago. Marcus Lucas (17 receptions, 162 yards) and L'Damian Washington (13 receptions, 187 yards, two TDs) round out a talented receiving trio.
Defensively, the Tigers may not stack up against some of the SEC's best, but they have been plenty good enough to win in the early going, allowing just 21.7 ppg on fewer than 390 yards per contest.
The ball-hawking defense ranks second in the nation with nine interceptions, with E.J. Gaines picking off a pair of passes to go along with his team-high 17 tackles. Kony Ealy was named the SEC Defensive Line Player of the Week after returning an interception 49 yards for a touchdown versus Indiana.
Arkansas State may still be considered the cream of the crop in the Sun Belt, but it has proven to be overmatched in non-conference road games. Missouri looks much improved from a season ago and is clicking on all cylinders, meaning an easy win should be in store this week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 51, Arkansas State 24
09/25 10:34:23 ET