ASU set to do battle with Western Kentucky Thursday - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

ASU set to do battle with Western Kentucky Thursday

Arkansas State (3-8, 2-5) at Western Kentucky (0-11, 0-7)

December 3, 2009 l Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium (22,113)

Bowling Green, Ky l 6:00 p.m.

Radio: Arkansas State Radio Network (KFIN 107.9 FM, flagship)

Television: Sun Belt Network

Live Stats: AStateRedWolves.com

ON TAP: Arkansas State wraps up its 2009 season Saturday at Western Kentucky in a televised game by the Sun Belt Network. Every Arkansas State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area and the live radio broadcast can be accessed through the Arkansas State athletic Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).

THE PRINCIPALS: After picking up a 30-26 victory over North Texas last week, Arkansas State has an opportunity to end its season with back-to-back wins for the first time this year. The Red Wolves snapped a four-game skid with its victory over the Mean Green and is looking for its third Sun Belt Conference win of the year. While Western Kentucky is still searching for its first victory of the season, it has dropped its last two games by a combined nine points.

HEAD COACH STEVE ROBERTS: Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts is in his eighth year at Arkansas State after leading the Red Wolves to the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Championship and to bowl eligible seasons three of the last four years. During his first eight seasons as the Red Wolves' head coach, he has guided ASU to 40 wins for its most over an eight-year span at the school since 1985-1992. Roberts was named the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Under Roberts, the Red Wolves have had 64 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, an Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, SBC Offensive Player of the Year, two SBC Defensive Players of the Year and an SBC Newcomer of the Year.

ROBERTS CLIMBING VICTORIES LADDER: In his first eight seasons as the Red Wolves head coach, Steve Roberts already has the fifth most victories among ASU's 26 all-time head coaches with 40 wins. Larry Lacewell (1979-89) holds the record for victories with 69 and is followed by Bennie Ellender (1963-70) with 52 wins, Bill Davidson (1971-78) with 51 and Forrest England (1946-53) with 49.

THE ARKANSAS STATE-WESTERN KENTUCKY SERIES: ASU is 1-1-1 all-time versus Western Kentucky, but it has been 57 years since the two teams last met. ASU and WKU first played during the 1947 season when they played to a 14-14 tie. The very next year, ASU picked up a 13-12 victory. WKU evened the series with a 34-19 victory in the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl played in Evansville, Ind. During the Refrigerator Bowl, the Hilltoppers overcame an opening 73-yard drive on ASU's first possession to improve their record to 9-1. They scored 34 unanswered points before a pair of fourth quarter ASU touchdowns made it more respectable. ASU had to play without All-America running back Richie Woit, sidelined with a broken ankle.

APLIN SETS HIGH MARK FOR FRESHMAN: Ryan Aplin recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game (122 yards) and also posted a career-high two rushing touchdowns against North Texas. Aplin threw for a career-high 240 yards. He posted a career-high 362 yards of total offense, which is the fifth most in school history for a single game and the most ever by an ASU freshman.

TWICE AS NICE: Two ASU players (Arnold with 111 yards and Aplin with 122) rushed for 100 yards in the same game (North Texas) for the second time this season. The other game was against Florida International when Corey Leonard and Arnold both went over 100.

TOPPING 200: With 244 rushing yards versus North Texas, ASU finished with over 200 yards rushing in a game for the third time this season. ASU had a season-high 358 rushing yards against MVSU and 276 against FIU.

OFFENSIVE SURGE: ASU's 484 yards of total offense against North Texas was its most against an FBS opponent since the sixth game of the 2007 season (681 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 13, 2007. It was ASU's second most yards of total offense this season behind its 496 against FCS member Mississippi Valley State.

TOP-10 PASSING NUMBERS: ASU's 176 passes completed is the seventh most in school history and its 2,177 passing yards is the eighth most in school history.

PICKING IT OFF: Kelcie McCray recorded his team-high fourth interception of the season Saturday. All four of his interceptions have come over ASU's last seven games . . . ASU now has 7 interceptions for the season and all 7 have come over the last eight games.

SOLID DEFENSE: ASU gave up 268 yards of total offense against North Texas, its fewest allowed against an FBS opponent since the 10th game of the 2008 season (259 yards vs. FAU, Nov. 22, 2009). ASU held the North Texas offense, which was averaging 405.8 yards per game, to just 268 total yards, matching the Mean Green's second lowest output this year.

LONE STAR SUCCESS: With its victory over North Texas, Arkansas State has now won its last six games against teams from the Lone Star state dating back to the 2007 season. The Red Wolves fell to Texas in their 2007 season opener, but came back to sweep their games over SMU and North Texas before knocking off Texas A&M, Texas Southern and North Texas in 2008 and North Texas again in 2009.

ARNOLD NOTABLES: Senior RB Reggie Arnold scored his team-leading 12th rushing TD of the season against North Texas last week, giving him 33 for his career and leaving him just one shy of tying the second most in school history . . . Arnold rushed for 111 yards, his second highest total of the season, for his 17th career 100-yard rushing game.  He needs one more 100-yard rushing game to tie the most in school history . . . Now with 3,886 career yards, he is 62 yards away from breaking the school record for career rushing yards that has stood since 1953.

STRONG D: Arkansas State is currently ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 49 in the nation in total defense, allowing 351.1 yards per game. If the season ended today, ASU would be ranked among the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference and top 50 the nation in total defense for the fourth consecutive year.

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