In case you didn’t know (and how could you not?) Gus Malzahn and Arkansas State travel to southern Louisiana to face Mark Hudspeth and Louisiana – Lafayette. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.
Both teams bring in a 2-1 record in Sun Belt play. The 10-member league has five teams at 2-1 chasing 3-0 ULM, so any hopes either team has of a Sun Belt championship likely die with a loss tonight. The Ragin’ Cajuns had won three straight matchups before Arkansas State’s 30-21 win last season en route to an 8-0 league record and conference title.
Tonight is Louisiana – Lafayette’s second consecutive Tuesday night game. Hudspeth’s team lost to North Texas 30-23 last Tuesday in a game that was also televised by ESPN2. Tonight signals an uptick in ULL’s schedule, as the Ragin’ Cajuns visit conference leader ULM and Florida in back-to-back weeks before hosting Western Kentucky on Nov. 17. But enough about the rest of the schedule, what stands out about tonight’s game?
– Race to 30: Outside of Arkansas State’s season-opening loss at Oregon, these teams are a combined 8-0 when scoring more than 30 points and 0-4 when under 30.
– Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: ULL leads the Sun Belt in turnover margin with a plus-6 total. The Ragin’ Cajuns have collected 13 turnovers while surrendering seven. Arkansas State has lost 12 turnovers and gained 10. The Red Wolves’ culprit has been fumbles; Arkansas State has lost nine fumbles this season.
– Not so special teams: Malzahn’s team is solid across the board statistically except on special teams. The Red Wolves rank eighth in the conference in kickoff returns and ninth in net punting. ULL leads the Sun Belt in net punting with a full 10-yard advantage over Arkansas State on average.
– Stingy where it counts: Louisiana – Lafayette resides in the middle of the road in most defensive statstics except one – scoring defense. Hudspeth’s squad ranks second in the league (25.3 points per game) and has surrendered the fewest touchdowns per game of anyone in the conference.
– 1992. That’s the last time Arkansas State won in Lafayette. Half of ASU’s roster wasn’t born in 1992, while Malzahn was in his first season as the head coach at Hughes High School in Arkansas.