Georgia Southern (3-1, 2-0) at Arkansas State (0-4, 0-0)
When: Wednesday, October 5th 2016
Where: Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
The Arkansas State Red Wolves are looking for their sixth straight Bowl appearance, but they’ll need to turn things around as they head into Sun Belt Conference play on Wednesday night against the Georgia Southern Eagles. The Red Wolves are off to an 0-4 start, but have looked better in their last two contests against Utah State and Central Arkansas. The Wolves came into this season as the favorite in the conference and have won 14 straight Sun Belt contests dating back to the 2014 season. A-State posted a season-high 469 yards total offense last game against Central Arkansas and has increased its total offensive output each game, but still rank 101st overall. Sophomore QB Justice Hansen made his first start this season and posted a career-high 424 passing yards, which were also the second most in school history for a single game. The Red Wolves had two players record over 100 receiving yards for the first time this season, including Blake Mack with 142 yards and Cam Echols-Luper with 121 – both totals were career highs. Sophomore DB Justin Clifton and senior DB Money Hunter both finished with a career-high 12 tackles against UCA.
The Eagles have already played two conference games (2-0) and suffered their first loss of the season last week against a very good Western Michigan team. Georgia Southern still ranks 16th in the country in total defense despite allowing 407 yards against the Broncos. Favian Upshaw threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles on just 4-of-6 passing, while Kevin Ellison ran for 46 yards and threw for 65 and a touchdown. Passing is not in the Georgia Southern playbook – running is their forte. They are trying to focus more on a one-back set this season after averaging only 63.4 yards a game through the air in 2015. They’re up to 140.2 this season. They currently rank 4th in the nation averaging 317.8 yards a game on the ground and have 12 rushing scores. Four players – Upshaw, Wesley Fields, Matt Breida, and Kevin Ellion – all have over 200 yards rushing on the season. The Eagles are well on their way to their second consecutive Bowl appearance, but do have Georgia Tech and Ole Miss on their schedule.
These teams will actually be meeting for the first time. Arkansas State has trouble stopping the run, but should have some success of their own on offense. Remember, the Red Wolves have not lost a conference game since 2014. Despite the 0-4 record, I like them here tonight at home getting points.
Pick: Arkansas State +7