Arkansas State vs. South Alabama prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the matchup between the Jaguars and Red Wolves at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Arkansas State vs. South Alabama Game Preview
When: Saturday, October 15 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
South Alabama just might be the strangest team in college football. This is a Jags team that copped its first-ever win over an SEC team, Mississippi State, and first-ever win over a ranked opponent, San Diego State, in the first five weeks. Yet, it’s also 0-2 in Sun Belt play, falling to Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette. USA is seeking more continuity this week in Jonesboro. The Jags will be facing suddenly confident Arkansas State. The Red Wolves were the league’s biggest disappointment of September, but they got off the mat last Wednesday to upend Georgia Southern with a late score. The hope around campus is that Week 6 was a turning point for the team.
What To Know About South Alabama
The Jags are a confident team, unmoved by the early success. Heck, in the upset of No. 19 San Diego State, backup Cole Garvin, not Dallas Davis, was under center. The offense is built to succeed through the air, regardless of who takes snaps, because TE Gerald Everett and receivers Josh Magee and Kevin Kutchera are solid senior targets. The defense, while beatable, has shown a knack for rising to the occasion, taking its lead from four productive vets, DE Randy Allen, LB Roman Buchanan, S Kalen Jackson and CB Jeremy Reaves.
What To Know About Arkansas State
After reaching rock bottom with a Sept. 24 home loss to Central Arkansas, the Red Wolves have renewed optimism about 2016. Arkansas State won the all-important battle on the ground with run-heavy Georgia Southern, cranking out 343 yards behind backs Warren Wand and Johnston White and QB Justice Hansen. JUCO transfer LB Kyle Wilson chipped in with three tackles for loss to support a defense that had issues against the run and the pass in the early stages of the year. The D’s numbers should continue to improve now that Toledo and Auburn are in the rear view mirror.
Offense: South Alabama. Slight edge to the Jaguars for being the far more efficient offense, both on third downs and in the red zone.
Defense: South Alabama. The Jaguars have proven their mettle by holding Mississippi State and San Diego State to an average of just 22 points.
Special Teams: Push. Both schools shaky on special teams, South Alabama in the kicking game and Arkansas State at punter.
Coaching: South Alabama. Joey Jones is an underrated coach who has guided the Jaguars from college football’s womb in 2009 to where they stand today.
Intangibles: Arkansas State. South Alabama will have had a few extra days to prepare, but the Red Wolves are home and riding a little momentum after chalking up their first win of 2016.
Matchup To Watch
The South Alabama receivers vs. the Arkansas State defensive backs
The Jaguars are averaging just slightly over three yards a carry, so passing lanes will continue to be the preferred avenue of transportation. Magee, Kutchera and Everett will want to attack a Red Wolves secondary that has so far given up nine touchdown passes while picking off only one, and is allowing a whopping 8.8 yards per attempt.
Spread: Arkansas State -5
Arkansas State vs. South Alabama Prediction
Despite the disparate records, this is a tossup game now that Arkansas State has escaped the ranks of the winless. It’ll come down to the Red Wolves ground game versus the South Alabama passing attack, both of which will find seams at Centennial Bank Stadium. In a seesaw battle that won’t be decided until the final minutes, the Jaguars will move to 4-2 on the backs of a defense that comes through in crunch time and a receiving corps that’ll be too much for the Arkansas State secondary.
Arkansas State vs. South Alabama Score Prediction: South Alabama 30, Arkansas State 28