Arkansas State at Louisiana-Monroe
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 2, Malone Stadium, Monroe, La., 3:30 p.m. EDT.
Looking to maintain at least a share of the West Division lead in the Sun Belt Conference, Louisiana-Monroe looks to regroup and get back to .500 Saturday when it hosts Arkansas State.
Red Wolves look to overtake Warhawks for second in Sun Belt WestArkansas State (4-4, 2-2 Sun Belt West) is two wins shy of being bowl eligible for the ninth straight season but also enters this contest one-half game behind co-leaders Louisiana and ULM.
The Red Wolves avoided a third straight loss last Saturday with a 38-14 pounding of Texas State, with Marcel Murray scoring on a pair of third-quarter touchdown runs immediately after key plays by the special teams unit. Murray finished with 114 rushing yards for his second straight 100-yard effort and leads the team with 472 despite playing in just five games.
BJ Edmonds nearly returns punt for a TD. Marcel Murray gets his 2nd score of the night on this great run.— Chris Hudgison (@ChrisHudgison) October 27, 2019
Arkansas State leads Texas State 31-14 4:19 left 3rd pic.twitter.com/schMlZ1XuC
Freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher is showing increased command of the offense and has thrown at least two touchdown passes in the last four games. Hatcher has thrown for 1,200 yards and 12 TDs in his last four games while completing 67.4 percent of his passes.
Last weekend's win also marked just the second time Arkansas State has held an opponent under 400 yards. The Red Wolves are 128th in FBS in total defense, yielding 492.3 yards per game, and tied for 119th in scoring defense at 35.4 points per game.
Arkansas State, though, has held the upper hand in this rivalry of late and is looking for a 10th straight win in the series. The Red Wolves have outscored the Warhawks 388-181 in that span and recorded all but one of those victories by double digits.
Warhawks look to break run of Jekyll-and-Hyde performancesWhen Louisiana-Monroe (3-4, 2-1 West) has been good, it has been very good. But when the Warhawks have been bad, they have been terrible. In their last game Oct. 19, it was the latter as then-No. 24 and still unbeaten Appalachian State gave them a 52-7 thrashing.
There is no arguing Matt Viator's team has played a demanding schedule -- ULM's other three losses have come to Iowa State, Florida State, and Memphis -- but each of those games were similar to the loss to the Mountaineers in their defense was absolutely blasted. The Warhawks have been torn apart for 220 points in those defeats.
After missing out on a bowl game last year despite being 6-6, the Warhawks are still seeking their second bowl appearance in school history -- with the other coming in 2012. Josh Johnson was held to a season-low 77 rushing yards versus Appalachian State but is second in the Sun Belt with 789 overall.
Caleb Evans, who is three TD passes shy of 50 for his career, is also looking to bounce back from his worst effort of the season after going 9 of 19 for 75 yards and an interception. Evans has not thrown a touchdown pass in back-to-back contests and has been picked off once in three consecutive games.
Evans will be looking to get his connection with tight end Josh Pederson up and running again. Pederson is tied fo the team lead with 26 catches and has a team-best five touchdowns, but he and Evans have hooked up on just three passes for 11 yards in the last two games.
Trends courtesy Covers.com. Arkansas State is:
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 9-0 ATS in its last nine games vs. Louisiana-Monroe.
- 21-7 ATS in its last 28 games in November.
- 1-6 ATS in its last seven games following a loss by 20 or more points.
- 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games following a bye week.
- 7-19-1 ATS in its last 27 home games.