The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 7:00 p.m.
FACTS & STATS: Site: ASU Stadium (30,708) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: Sun Belt Network. Home Record: ULM 0-1, ASU 0-0. Away Record: ULM 0-0, ASU 0-2. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: ULM 0-0, ASU 0-1. Series Record: ULM leads, 17-14.
GAME NOTES: Sun Belt Conference action is featured this Saturday night at ASU Stadium in Jonesboro, as the Arkansas State Red Wolves play host to the Warhawks of ULM.
ULM fell on the road to nationally-ranked Arkansas, 31-7, last Saturday in the Warhawks' only game so far this season. ULM will play its first home game next week against Southeastern Louisiana.
Arkansas State was defeated for the second time on the road this season at the hands of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, 31-24, in the Red Wolves' first Sun Belt Conference showdown of the seasons.
These teams are meeting for the 32nd time in history, the 10th time as Sun Belt rivals. The home team has found itself victorious in each of the past five matchups, while ULM has struggled in Arkansas as the Warhawks' last win in the state came in a 16-7 verdict in 2001. Overall, ULM owns a 17-14 advantage in the series.
The ULM offense was unimpressive last week in the 31-7 defeat handed down by the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Warhawks were unable to take advantage of an opportunity right out of the gate as Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet fumbled on the first possession. After the turnover, the Warhawks responded with a three-and-out, setting the tone for the offensive production on the day. ULM quarterback Kolton Browning threw for 74 yards in the game on 7-for-17 passing, including a 25-yard touchdown strike to Luther Ambrose and one interception. The Warhawks gained 116 rushing yards on 37 carries. ULM could only gain ten first downs against Arkansas, something it must improve if it hopes to gain a victory this week.
The ULM defense showed some fight against Arkansas, forcing the Razorbacks into three turnovers. The Warhawks also recorded six tackles for loss, as well as two sacks. Arkansas State may look to go deep often in this one since the Warhawks let up three passing plays of 35 yards or more against Arkansas, one of which was a 35-yard pass resulting in a touchdown. ULM will also have to lock down its red-zone defense, as it let the Razorbacks succeed on every opportunity within the 20-yard line last week (three touchdowns, one field goal). The Warhawks were torched through the air as well, giving up 400 yards and three scores.
Arkansas State's offense put up a fight in its first showdown of the year, ultimately falling 52-26 against one of the better teams in the nation in Auburn. With the departure of four-year starter Corey Leonard, ULM is counting on quarterback Ryan Alpin to step up to the plate. Alpin impressed against Auburn by throwing for 278 yards and one touchdown. Alpin then took his performance to another level in the disappointing 31-24 loss to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, completing 25-of-45 passes for a whopping 438 yards and two scores. It's safe to say that Alpin's arm is the only good thing for the Red Wolves on offense at the moment, as the rushing attack managed a pitiful 18 yards on 19 carries against Louisiana.
Arkansas State's effort in defending the pass has been decent to this point, as the Red Wolves have held opposing quarterbacks to 241 and 214 yards, respectively, in the first two games this season. The numbers regarding the rushing defense, however, are staggering. Auburn was able to net a total of 367 yards on the ground in the season opener, while Louisiana throttled ASU's defense for 242 yards last week. If the Red Wolves hope to have any chance in claiming their first victory of the season, they'll need to make dramatic improvement in that area.
Arkansas State has some glaring holes to fill on defense, and unfortunately for the Red Wolves it would seem as if ULM will do everything it can to exploit that as it brings a punishing rushing attack into the contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 34, Arkansas State 20