The college football experts at The Sports Network have a preview of the upcoming ASU vs. FIU game.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 24th, 6:00 p.m.
FACTS & STATS: Site: ASU Stadium (30,406) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 0-2, Arkansas State 1-1. Away Record: FIU 1-3, Arkansas State 0-3. Neutral Record: FIU 0-0, Arkansas State 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 1-2, Arkansas State 0-2. Series Record: Arkansas State leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: Still looking for their first league victory on the year, the Arkansas State Red Wolves host the Florida International Golden Panthers this Saturday evening in a Sun Belt Conference battle at ASU Stadium.
The Golden Panthers have struggled this year, and come into this weekend with four losses in five games. The last time FIU was in action the team stumbled against Troy, falling to the Trojans, 42-33. The Golden Panthers' lone victory on the year came on the road (37-20 win over Western Kentucky), but since the start of the 2006 campaign, FIU is a terrible 3-20 as the visitor.
As for the Red Wolves, they have dropped four consecutive games since opening the year with a 61-0 win over Mississippi Valley State. The most recent loss for ASU came back on October 13th, as the Red Wolves were defeated by UL- Monroe, 16-10. Last year the Red Wolves posted a 4-3 ledger in league action, but they have gotten off to a slow start in 2009 at 0-2.
The Red Wolves hold a 3-1 edge over FIU in the all-time series, but the lone win for the Golden Panthers came in the last meeting, as FIU defeated Arkansas State, 22-21, back in 2008.
Florida International scored 33 points in its recent matchup with Troy, but it wasn't enough. The majority of the team's success came through the air, as Paul McCall threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns. However, the signal caller was also intercepted once and sacked six times. FIU also tallied two touchdowns on the ground, as Daunte Owens and Darrian Mallary both found the end zone, but the Golden Panthers finished with just 38 yards on 1.1 yards per attempt. The passing attack has been the strength of the offense. McCall has thrown for 1,461 yards and 11 touchdowns against five interceptions. T.Y. Hilton has been the top option downfield, as the wideout is pacing the team with 41 receptions, 438 yards and four touchdowns. Throughout the season the ground game has stalled, managing just 85.3 ypg on a mere 2.5 yards per carry.
The FIU defense was abused by the Trojans last time out, struggling to stop the run and pass in the contest, as the defense was torched for 391 yards and three touchdowns through the air and 174 yards and three more scores on the ground. Stopping the run has been a major issue for this team throughout the season, heading into this matchup allowing 233.2 rushing ypg. Out of the 26 touchdowns surrendered by this unit, 18 have come via the run. Creating big plays has also been an issue for this defense throughout the season, as the team has forced just nine turnovers (five fumbles and four interceptions), while collecting only 11 sacks. Overall the Golden Panthers are allowing 499.8 total ypg, and that has led to 35.7 ppg.
The Red Wolves did not post much of a threat offensively in their last game, scoring just 10 points behind only 263 total yards of production. Corey Leonard led the way, throwing for 234 yards and one score. However, the signal caller also tossed two interceptions and was sacked five times. The ground game was much worse for Arkansas State, as the team was bottled up for just 29 yards on 34 attempts. After scoring 61 points in their first game this season, the Red Wolves have combined for just 67 points over their last four matchups. The team heads into this weekend averaging just 326.8 total yards. Leonard has thrown for only 900 yards on the year, and that comes with five touchdowns, but also three interceptions. The ground game has been slightly better, as the team is churning out 136.0 yards per contest. Reggie Arnold has done most of the work, as the tailback is leading the team with 328 yards and seven touchdowns.
The poor offensive play took away from a strong showing by the ASU defense, which held ULM to just 274 total yards. Arkansas State allowed 124 rushing yards in the contest, but held the Warhawks to just 3.0 yards per attempt. The defense was even better against the pass, limiting ULM to just 150 yards through the air, while also grabbing one interception. Throughout the season the defense has done an outstanding job against the run, holding opponents to just 109.6 ypg on 3.3 ypc. However, the main problem has come against the pass, as opponents are torching the Red Wolves for 243.2 ypg through the air, with 10 TD passes surrendered. The Red Wolves have also had trouble forcing big plays, as the team comes into this weekend with just eight takeaways and seven sacks.
Producing offensively has been a problem for Arkansas State over the past few weeks, but against a weak defensive team in FIU, at home, the Red Wolves should be able to post enough points to get back in the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 37, Florida International 14