They're heading into the final regular season weekend in college football's highest division. For some, that means preparing to possibly play for a conference title. For others, it means finishing the season as strong as you possibly can while beginning to look ahead to next year.
In the Arkansas State football offices, those preparations will begin with a clear objective: get better at the line of scrimmage. A lot better.
We've long held a morbid fascination with the Red Wolves running game and defense -- or lack thereof -- and this felt like the week to quantify exactly what we're seeing there.
In Saturday's 28-20 loss to Georgia State, the Red Wolves were out-rushed 282-3. Certainly, Georgia State's six sacks of quarterback Layne Hatcher drag down A-State's rushing game, but that underscores the team's need to improve at the line of scrimmage... and even so, starting running back Lincoln Pare managed only 33 yards on 13 carries.
In 10 games thus far vs. FBS competition, here is Arkansas State's rushing deficit. The first number you see will be their rushing yards for the game, and the second their rushing yards against:
vs. Memphis -- 98-263 (minus-165)
at Washington -- 55-200 (minus-145)
at Tulsa -- 45-308 (minus-263)
at Georgia Southern -- 81-503 (minus-422)
vs. Coastal Carolina -- 18-294 (minus-276)
vs. Louisiana -- 113-424 (minus-311)
at South Alabama -- 38-173 (minus-135)
vs. Appalachian State -- 62-264 (minus-202)
at ULM -- 94-177 (minus-83)
vs. Georgia State -- -3-282 (minus-285)
Year to date: 601-2,888 (minus-2,287)
On a per carry basis, A-State operates at a 4.34-yard deficit per snap. Again, the fact that Arkansas State has surrendered an even 40 sacks in the 10 games above serves as both a mitigating factor and a blinking red light above the offensive line.
In the CFBStats.com database, which stretches back to 2009, no other FBS team has played a full season and ranked among the bottom three nationally (vs. FBS competition) in rushing offense and rushing defense.
With one game remaining against Texas State (No. 84 rushing offense, No. 102 rushing defense), jobs one, two, three and four for Butch Jones and his staff will be to improve their offensive and defensive lines by any means necessary.
Here are this week's numbers:
-- Win the rushing battle: 52-14 (.788)
-- Win the passing battle: 46-20 (.697)
-- Scoring first: 44-22 (.667)
-- Lead at halftime: 56-4 (.933)
-- Win turnovers: 35-11 (.761)
-- Win all five: 12-0 (1.000)
Year to date:
-- Win the rushing battle: 597-170 (.778)
-- Win the passing battle: 452-315 (.589)
-- Scoring first: 542-227 (.705)
-- Lead at halftime: 613-111 (.847)
-- Win turnovers: 443-132 (.770)
-- Win all five: 127-0 (1.000)
-- In their 35-14 win over Indiana, Minnesota threw for 196 yards and rushed for 195.
-- In their 56-15 drubbing of New Mexico State, Kentucky gained a whopping 707 yards.
-- Teams that score first got off to an 0-5 start in Week 12. In all five mid-week MACtion games, the team that scored first lost.
-- Colorado was out-gained 426-183 in their 20-17 win over Washington. So how'd they win? A 4-0 turnover advantage.
-- Louisiana won turnovers 6-0 in their 42-14 win at Liberty. In retrospect, it's a surprise that margin was only four touchdowns.
-- Oklahoma was held under 100 passing yards for the first time of Lincoln Riley's seven seasons in Norman. The Sooners mustered 96 yards on 19 attempts (nine complete). The last time OU threw for fewer yards was Nov. 22, 2014, a 44-7 win over Kansas in which they passed 13 times for 39 yards... but it didn't matter because Samaje Perine rushed 34 times for 427 yards and five touchdowns.
-- Southern Miss out-passed Louisiana Tech without a true quarterback in their two-deep. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Allen went 11-of-26 for 100 yards and two interceptions; four Golden Eagles combined to hit 8-of-13 throws for 110 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
-- Perhaps the biggest rushing/passing disparity of the season in Air Force's 41-39 triple overtime win over Nevada on Friday night. The Falcons won the ground 476-18, the Wolf Pack owned the air, 351-23.