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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: Troy IMG Sports Net. Home Record: ASU 4-1, Troy 2-3. Away Record: ASU 4-2, Troy 3-2. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 5-1, Troy 3-3. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 7-6.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas State Red Wolves will try to continue their quest to become back-to-back Sun Belt Conference champions on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Troy Trojans.
After a slow start to the season, Arkansas State has won five games in a row, all coming against Sun Belt opponents. With a 45-23 home win over ULM on Nov. 8, the Red Wolves grabbed sole possession of first place in the league with a 5-1 mark, and they have assured themselves a winning record for the eighth straight season.
Troy returns to conference action after playing a pair of non-league games in the past two weeks. It lost a shootout at Tennessee on Nov. 3, 55-48, then it claimed an impressive 41-31 win at home over Navy last week. The Trojans will become bowl eligible with wins in either of their next two games.
Arkansas State holds a slim advantage in the all-time series against the Trojans, 7-6, which includes a 3-2 mark in Troy.
During its current five-game win streak, Arkansas State has put up 34 points or more in every game. It is the second-most potent offense in the Sun Belt in scoring 35.1 ppg
Ryan Aplin leads the SBC in passing yards with 2,522, and he's tossed 16 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He threw for 334 yards a week ago, his ninth-career game with at least 300 yards passing. He's also been more than capable with his legs, racking up 294 rushing yards and five more scores.
David Oku (829 yards) has spearheaded a fantastic rushing attack that has racked up more than 2,100 yards, and Oku's 12 rushing touchdowns are the most in the conference. Rocky Hayes has been potent on limited touches, rushing for 389 yards on just 33 carries.
With 12 catches last week, J.D. McKissic tallied a career-high in receptions for the second straight game. He's one of the best freshman receivers in the country with 72 receptions, 711 yards, and three touchdowns. Josh Jarboe (42 receptions, 498 yards, three TDs) has also been effective on the outside.
The Red Wolves defense hasn't been especially strong (27.1 ppg), but it has been good enough to win in recent weeks. They forced two turnovers in their latest outing against ULM.
Nathan Herrold is well on his way to an All-Sun Belt campaign with 89 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. Tim Starson has recorded team-highs in both tackles for loss (11) and sacks (3.5).
While Troy's offense lags behind Arkansas State's in terms of points scored (31.2 ppg), it is the league's best in terms yardage, putting up 499.5 yards per game (12th in the nation). A big reason for its success is its 50 percent conversion rate on third down.
Although he only has 10 passing touchdowns, Corey Robinson is putting together another strong season by completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 2,521 yards. He was nearly perfect against Navy last week, completing 25-of-28 passes for 322 yards and a TD. Deon Anthony is technically the backup, but he sees plenty of snaps and has had success both passing (68-of-98, 728 yards, eight TDs, two INTs) and running (368 yards, six TDs). He was a difference maker against Navy with three touchdowns.
Chip Reeves has been the team's big-play threat with 55 receptions for 893 yards and five touchdowns. Eric Thomas (47 receptions, 550 yards, six TDs) and Chandler Worthy (41 yards, 479 yards, two TDs) round out what may be the best receiving corps in the conference.
Shawn Southward is not only an outstanding rusher (845 yards, 10 TDs), but he makes plenty of plays in the passing game as well with 32 receptions.
The Sun Belt isn't exactly known for its defensive prowess, as no team in the league allows less than 25 ppg, and Troy's defense is one of the conference's worst (30.1 ppg, 440.0 ypg).
The Trojans have picked off just four passes, but they have made up for it in the turnover battle with 13 fumble recoveries. Bryden Trawick has a team-high 74 tackles, and Tony Davis has eight tackles for loss and three sacks.
There will be no shortage of points scored in this one as two of the best quarterbacks in Sun Belt history go toe-to-toe. Troy has the home field advantage and will be celebrating its Homecoming, but Arkansas State has not been intimidated on the road this season, and it will find a way to pull this one out and remain in first place.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 44, Troy 38
11/14 10:43:45 ET