ASU Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

The defending Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State Red Wolves open their 2012 campaign at No. 5 Oregon Saturday at 9:30 p.m. (CT) in an ESPN-televised game. Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

ASU now holds a 416-454-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and has played in eight bowl games.

Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and one of four A-State players named to the all-conference team at the league's Media Day in New Orleans. Aplin, senior wideout Josh Jarboe, senior offensive lineman Zack McNight and senior defensive back Don Jones were all named to the Preseason All-SBC Team. The Red Wolves were picked second in the preseason coaches poll announced as part of the league's annual Media Day.

First-year Arkansas State Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn was recognized as one of the top hires in the nation this offseason, named as the No. 4 best hire and No. 2 most intriguing hire in the nation by He was also one of two head coaches in the nation to receive a grade of A+ among new hires for the 2012 season by the Sporting News. Bleacher Report's "Over/Under Victories" for every new head coach places A-State at nine victories, one of the tops listed in the report . . . A-State returns five 2011 All-Sun Belt Conference players this season, inlcuding the league's Player of the Year in senior quarterback Ryan Aplin.

Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship last season. Arkansas State received as many as 18 votes in the AP Top 25 Poll and 13 votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, while also ranking as high as No. 35 in the BCS and reaching No. 30 in the 120 rankings during the season.

An All-America and Heisman candidate, senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has garnered a significant amount of national attention this preseason as he is listed on the Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List, Davey O'Brien Award Watch List, Johnny Unitas Award Watch List and the Manning Award Watch List.

The Red Wolves ended the regular season on a nine-game winning streak, one of the longest in the nation. Along with Northern Illinois, ASU's opponent in the 2012 Bowl, the Red Wolves regular-season winning streak is the third longest in the nation behind only LSU (13) and Georgia (10). Following ASU and NIU, Louisiana tech, TCU and Virginia Tech all have a seven-game win streak to their credit heading into the 2012 season.