A pair of Sun Belt teams that have had disappointing seasons will be looking to end on a high note on Saturday afternoon. Texas State has gone 3-8 and is coming off a 35-21 loss at Coastal Carolina last week. Arkansas State snapped an eight-game losing streak two weeks ago, but it came up short against Georgia State last Saturday.
Bobcats need Vitt to do more offensivelyTexas State opened the season with an upset win over FIU, but it has basically been all downhill since then. The Bobcats have only won two other games, beating South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe. They have suffered two losses as favorites, falling to Incarnate Word as 11-point favorites and to Georgia Southern as 2-point favorites. Their most recent outing came against Coastal Carolina, where they covered the 24.5-point spread in a 35-21 loss. They were tied 14-14 at halftime and were only down by one touchdown at the end of the third quarter, so it was a valiant effort.
The Bobcats rank No. 105 in total offense, averaging 343.5 yards per game. Junior quarterback Tyler Vitt took over at the end of October and has played in four games. He has only completed 55.2% of his passes for 673 yards and two touchdowns—he has been confirmed as the starter for the final game of the season. Wide receiver Javen Banks has caught 36 passes for 548 yards, while wide receiver Marcell Barbee has added 40 receptions for 520 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Calvin Hill has rushed 116 times for 591 yards and two scores. He is going to face an Arkansas State defense that is dead-last in college football, allowing 522.4 yards per game.
Hatcher trying to limit turnoversArkansas State opened the season under head coach Butch Jones with a 40-21 win over Central Arkansas, but it proceeded to drop its next eight straight games. The Red Wolves put up surprising efforts against Memphis, Tulsa and Louisiana, keeping all three of those contests within single digits. Their close calls finally resulted in a conference win two weeks ago, as they knocked off Louisiana-Monroe as 3-point underdogs. They were unable to add another upset as 15.5-point underdogs against Georgia State, but they did cover the spread in a 28-20 loss.
Arkansas State has been much better offensively than defensively, ranked No. 76 in yards per game (389.5). Sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher has completed 57.9% of his passes for 2,146 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he has also thrown 13 interceptions. He has thrown at least two interceptions in each of his last four games. His top targets have been wide receivers Tevailance Hunt and Corey Rucker, who have both gone over 700 receiving yards this season. Running back Lincoln Pare leads the ground game with 93 carries for 373 yards and one touchdown. The Red Wolves are going to face a Texas State defense that is No. 99, allowing 426.7 yards per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This game comes down to motivation levels as much as anything since both teams are not going to be playing in a bowl game this year. I am not sure if either side has a clear edge as far as that is concerned, as they both covered the spread as large underdogs last week. This is a tough game to handicap, but I am going to take the more explosive offense that is playing at home. Arkansas State has been much more dynamic on the offensive side of the ball and its quarterback is capable of making big plays. Jones is a solid motivator from a coaching perspective, so the Red Wolves are my pick to win this game.
Full-Game Total Pick
I have no interest in backing the Arkansas State defense to keep this game under the total. The Red Wolves can put up points in bunches, but their defense is the worst in college football. Texas State has an offense that should be able to take advantage of the bad defense. Vitt will be making his fifth start in a row, so he is going to be more familiar with the offense than at any other point this season. The coaching staff will be emptying the playbook in this game, as there will not be a postseason for either of these teams.