Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Sportscapper Island
Middle Tennessee (3-4) at Arkansas State (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 2nd, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: ASU Stadium (30,964) -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: MTU 2-2, ASU 2-1. Away Record: MTU 1-2, ASU 1-4. Neutral Record: MTU 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: MTU 2-1, ASU 3-2. Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 9-2.
GAME NOTES: The Sun Belt Conference will showcase two up and coming teams on Tuesday night when the Arkansas State Red Wolves play host to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in a pivotal league matchup at ASU Stadium in Jonesboro.
The Blue Raiders have dominated Arkansas State over the years, winning nine of the 11 previous meetings, but both wins for the Red Wolves have occurred at home.
The Blue Raiders snapped a two-game slide the last time they were in action, as they defeated ULM, 38-10. It was just the third win of the season for MTU, which is now 2-1 in conference. Following this contest, the Blue Raiders will get an extended break, as the team will not return to the field until November 13th when it entertains North Texas.
As for the Red Wolves, they opened the year with four losses in their first five games, but since then the team has slowly improved as it has collected wins in two of its last three contests. The most recent victory was a 37-16 decision over Florida Atlantic, pushing ASU's conference mark to 3-2.
The Blue Raiders scored 28 first-half points against ULM and never looked back, as they went on to defeat the Warhawks by 28 points. Middle Tennessee leaned on its ground attack, which churned out 244 yards and two scores. Leading the way was Phillip Tanner, who rumbled for 73 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Dwight Dasher contributed 66 yards on 14 totes. Dasher was also effective with his arm, throwing for 219 yards and two scores on 11-of-19 passing. One of his touchdown passes went to Tyler Mason, who finished the game with 93 yards on just three catches.
Throughout the season coach Rick Stockstill's team has relied heavily on the ground game, which has averaged 171.1 ypg, and out of the 23 touchdowns posted by the offense, 18 have come via the run. Tanner has been the most productive cog out of the backfield, as the tailback has rushed for 453 yards and team- best six touchdowns. D.D. Kyles has helped out as well, rumbling for 308 yards, while Dasher has found the end zone four times on the ground. The surprising thing about Dasher's season however, is that his two TD passes against ULM were his first two on the year, as he has struggled through the air, throwing for just 564 yards, while also tossing six interception.
The success of the Blue Raider offense has been the downfall for the defense, as coach Stockstill's unit has found no answers on how to stop the run. Opponents are currently producing 178.9 ypg against Middle Tennessee, and it seems that this could be a problem for the remainder of the season. Fortunately the unit has done a respectable job against the pass, holding teams to under 200.0 ypg, while also applying adequate pressure, recording 20 sacks to this point.
Things were backwards for the defense against ULM, as the Blue Raiders did an outstanding job against the run, while faltering against the pass. The likely explanation is that the Warhawks fell in a deep hole and needed to climb their way out through the air. Regardless, coach Stockstill's squad held ULM to minus-four net rushing yards, which is an achievement in any situation. Not all was good however, as the unit was torched for 273 passing yards, but softening the blow of that large number was the two interceptions collected by MTU's secondary. The Blue Raiders forced three total turnovers in the win, giving the team just eight takeaways through seven games.
The Red Wolves come into this matchup with 16 rushing touchdowns on the year, which is a solid number, and would lead one to believe they do most of their work with their rushing attack. However, that is not the case for ASU. Coach Steve Roberts' team has enjoyed moderate success rushing the ball, but the its bread and butter is the pass, which is under the direction of Ryan Aplin, who has completed 60.5 percent of his throws for 2,084 yards and 13 touchdowns against just seven interceptions this season. Dwayne Frampton has burst on the scene to become Aplin's favorite target, as the receiver leads the team in receptions (46), receiving yards (471) and receiving touchdowns (four).
The last time Arkansas State was on the field the team went into the fourth quarter on the wrong end of a 16-9 score. However, Aplin rallied his teammates and led them to 28 straight points, and a 21-point victory. Aplin threw for 234 yards and one touchdown in the win, but also led the ground game for ASU, rushing for 64 yards and another score.
What has hurt the Red Wolves this season has been their horrendous defensive play. Arkansas State is allowing 198.5 rushing ypg and shockingly against the pass, the unit has been much worse. Through eight games, ASU has allowed 19 touchdowns through the air, while opponents are averaging a robust 254.4 passing ypg.
Thankfully for coach Roberts, his defense had one of its better showings on the season the last time out, holding Florida Atlantic to 319 yards and two touchdowns. Once again the problem for the defense came against the pass, as the Owls finished with 227 yards, while collecting both of their scores through the air.
The Red Wolves will have the luxury of playing on their home field in this one, but even with the crowd behind them the play of the defense will still be a major concern. Middle Tennessee is a run-oriented team, but like last week Dasher proved he can also pass the ball, so if Arkansas State is not careful, the Blue Raiders could come away with the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Middle Tennessee 33, Arkansas State 30