Friday, February 3, 2023
College Bowl Game Tickets

CFB Week 9 Previews: Sun Belt Conference

Week 9 Sun Belt Conference

Thu., Oct. 28 @ 7:30 pm ET
Troy Trojans at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

The Series
• Troy and Coastal Carolina have split the first four meetings in the series with Troy winning the first two games and Coastal the last two. The schools are also split at home and on the road with 1-1 marks in both venues.

Troy Trojans

Did You Know?

• Kimani Vidal ranks fourth in the Group of Five and eighth nationally averaging 3.92 yards after contact this season (min 95 carries); he was second nationally among freshmen last year with a 3.83 average

• Troy’s defense has held nine of its last 13 opponents to 21 points or fewer dating back to last season; in those games the Trojan defense has allowed an average of just 12.6 points

• All three of Troy’s interceptions at Texas State came from transfers in their first year of eligibility for the Trojans – Keyshawn Swanson, Elijah Culp, Taiyon Palmer

• Troy has targeted its tight ends 20 times through seven games with 19 receptions; in the previous seven seasons COMBINED, Troy’s tight ends had been targeted 18 times with 12 receptions

• Troy is 11-19 during Chip Lindsey’s tenure on coin tosses and 3-4 this season. Troy has received the opening kickoff in 21-of-30 games under Lindsey and has scored on 13 of those possessions. The Trojans have elected to kick just three times when winning the coin toss

• Troy’s 45 wins since the start of the 2016 season are the 24th most in the country and seventh most among Group of Five programs

• Troy is throwing the ball 55.52 percent of the time the last three seasons, that is the 11th highest percentage nationally and the fifth highest in the G5

• Troy is 10-2 when winning the time of possession battle under Chip Lindsey; the Trojans’ victory over Georgia Southern was just their fourth when possessing the ball for fewer than 30 minutes

• Tez Johnson’s 45 receptions are the third most by a Trojan since at least 2000 through the first seven games of a season — Gary Banks (50, 2006), Jerrel Jernigan (48, 2008)

• Troy is one of just three two teams (Iowa) to have three or more interceptions in a game this season.

• In Al Pogue’s last four seasons coaching Troy’s cornerbacks (2016-18, 21), Troy has ranked 2nd, 15th, 5th and 3rd nationally in interceptions.

TEAM NOTES
Defending Veterans Memorial Stadium
• Troy has defended its home turf as well as anybody in the state of Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference.

On a Roll
• Troy has won 46 of its last 70 games dating back to the 2015 season

• Broken down even further, Troy has won 36 of its last 57 games and 31 of its last 49 games.

• Troy is 22-12 in its last 34 Sun Belt Conference games.

• Troy is 22-10 at home since the start of the 2016 season

Points on the Board
• Troy has been shutout just six times since moving to FBS in 2001 with three of those coming during the 2003 season.

• Troy has only been shutout once (North Texas, 2003) by a non-Power Five school — the Trojans have played 185 straight games against non-Power Five schools without being shutout.

• Troy was shutout by Georgia, 66-0, on Sept. 20, 2014, which snapped a streak of 99 straight games without being shutout (Nebraska, 56-0, on Sept. 23, 2006).

• Troy’s current overall streak stands at 89 games.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

A COASTAL WIN WOULD …
• put the Chanticleers at 7-1 overall and 3-1 in Sun Belt Conference play;

• extend the Chants’ home winning streak to 12-straight games, one shy of the program record 13 set from 2012-14;

• push the Chants’ winning streak to three-straight games over the Troy Trojans;

• put CCU at 3-2 all-time versus Troy;

• give the Chants their fourth win of the season in midweek contests (4-1).

A COASTAL LOSS WOULD …

• hand the Chanticleers their second loss of the season (6-2);

• give Coastal back-to-back losses for the first time since losing three-straight games in November of 2019;

• end the Chants’ current home winning streak at 11-straight games;

• snap CCU’s winning streak over Troy at two games;

• put the Chants at 2-3 all-time versus Troy.

LAST TIME VS. TROY (2020)

RESULT IN RESCHEDULED GAME
• The No. 11/13 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were able to ward off a Troy Trojans (5-6, 3-4 Sun Belt) team with nothing to lose for a 42-38 Sun Belt Conference road win in the rescheduled game at Troy, Ala. (Dec. 12, 2021)

PERFECTION
• With the road win at Troy, the Chanticleers finished the regular season at 11-0, the first-ever undefeated regular season in program history. It also matched the best season in Sun Belt Conference football history, as the Chants became just the third team to finish the conference slate at 8-0.

THE DRIVE
• The game-winning score was a 23-yard pass across the middle from Grayson McCall to Jaivon Heiligh that saw the wideout race into the end zone to give the Chants the lead with only 35 seconds remaining in the game. • Down 38-35, CCU answered back with a five-play, 75-yard drive in just 45 seconds to take the 42-38 road win on the pass from McCall to Heiligh.

YARDS ON YARDS
• Coastal outgained the Trojans 514-443 in total offense, as the Chants threw for a season-high 338 yards to go along with 176 rushing yards on the ground.

• The 514 yards marked the third time in the 2020 season that the CCU offense went over 500 total yards offense for the game.

Sat., Oct. 30 @ 11:00 am CT
Texas State Bobcats at Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

SERIES HISTORY
• Texas State and Louisiana will meet for the ninth time in a series that began in 2013 when the Bobcats became a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

• The Bobcats are looking for their first win against the Ragin’ Cajuns, and have dropped four meetings in Lafayette

Texas State Bobcats

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
• Jake Spavital is in his third season as the head coach at Texas State and in his second year calling the offensive plays for the Bobcats in 2021. Texas State is averaging 354 yards on offense and 25.0 points per game this season. Spavital took the reins at Texas State on Nov. 30, 2018, after overseeing some of the nation’s most prolific offenses at West Virginia, California, and Texas A&M. He is Texas State’s 20th head coach since the program began in 1904. In addition, he is the third-youngest FBS head coach this season.

• Texas State has two new coaches on its coaching staff. Brian Gamble is coaching the inside linebackers after serving three seasons as linebackers coach at Louisiana Tech. He went to Louisiana Tech after serving 10 seasons on the coaching staff at Incarnate Word, including five seasons as defensive coordinator. Markeveon Coleman leads the Bobcats in tackles with 47, and Sione Tupou ranks third on the team with 43.0. Jim Turner is in his first season as the offensive line coach after coaching the past two seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He also served two stints as the offensive line coach at Texas A&M in 2016-18 and 2009-11.

• Offensive coordinator Jacob Peeler uses the name “Nasty Wide Outs” as his Twitter handle. Like his previous stops at California and Ole’ Miss, Texas State’s wide receivers have adopted the nickname for their position group. Six of Texas State’s top seven reception leaders are wide receivers this season. Javen Banks leads the Bobcats with 28 catches for 427 yards and four touchdowns. Marcell Barbee also has 28 receptions for 300 yards and four TDs. Trevis Graham, Jr. has 10 catches for 147 yards and two TDs, and Ashtyn Hawkins has caught 10 passes for 130 yards and one TD. Donnovan Moorer has nine receptions and Drue Jackson has eight.

• Texas State enters the Louisiana game looking to improve its road record to 2-2 this season. The Bobcats are 1-2 in road games this year after falling 28-16 at Georgia State on Oct. 23. The Bobcats won 23-17 in overtime at FIU before falling at Eastern Michigan in their two non-conference road games.

• This season marks the first time Texas State has won two overtime games in the same year and the first time that the Bobcats have won a game that went into four overtimes. Texas State played two overtime games in the same year, just one other time in 2008 when they were 1-1. In addition, the Bobcats have played two other games that went into four overtimes against Nicholls State, falling 47-45 in four overtimes in 2010 and 49-36 in five overtimes in 1996.

KICKING THINGS OFF
• Texas State is in its 121st season, and 10th season in the NCAA Division I FBS ranks in 2021. The Bobcats played their first game in 1904 and have a record of 541–476–35 entering the Louisiana game. Texas State has won two NCAA Division II national championships and 14 conference championships during its history.

• Texas State looks for its third win of the season and to even its Sun Belt Conference mark to 2-2 at Louisiana. The Bobcats won their third consecutive Sun Belt opener with a four-overtime 33-31 victory over South Alabama at Bobcat Stadium on Oct. 9 before dropping a 31-28 decision against Troy on Oct. 16, and a 28-16 loss at Georgia State on Oct. 23.

• Texas State looks to win its second Sun Belt Conference game and improve its league record to 2-2 for the first time since 2014 when it travels to Louisiana. The Bobcats opened their Sun Belt slate with a 3-1 record in 2014.

• Texas State’s largest home crowd in 2021 was against Baylor in front of 26,573 on Sept. 4. The crowd was the sixth-largest ever to attend a game at Bobcat Stadium and the largest-attended Bobcat football game since Texas State played UTSA (31,333) on Sept. 23, 2017.

FOUR DOWNS WITH LOUISIANA
• Louisiana enters Saturday’s game with 6-1 overall record and 4-0 Sun Belt Conference mark after edging Arkansas State, 28-27, on Oct. 21. It was the third overall victory and second Sun Belt win decided by three-points or less for the Ragin’ Cajuns this year.

• The Ragin’ Cajuns have three players rushing over 300 yards this season. Chris Smith leads Louisiana with 551 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 carries after he ran for 238 yards and two TDs at Arkansas State. Montrell Johnson ran for 150 yards at A-State, and has run for 485 yards and seven TDs on 76 carries this season. Emani Bailey has gained 310 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries.

• Quarterback Levi Lewis has completed 120- of-195 passes for 1,427 yards and eight touchdowns, with three interceptions this season. Lewis completed 11 of 20 passes for 122 yards and an interception at Arkansas State. He threw for 209 yards and a touchdown against App State.

• Louisiana ranks second among Sun Belt defensive leaders after surrendering just 22.0 points per game in 2021. Lorenzo McCaskill leads the Ragin’ Cajuns in tackles with 46.0. Ferrod Gardner has 35.0 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Zi’Yon Hill leads Louisiana with 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

LOUISIANA HOST TEXAS STATE ON HOMECOMING
After clinching bowl eligibility with a tightly-contested 28-27 victory on the road at Arkansas State, Louisiana returns to Cajun Field and seeks another Sun Belt Conference West Division victory when it welcomes Texas State for Homecoming. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 3-0 on Homecoming under head coach Billy Napier and own a 42-27-2 record all-time.

A LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
• Louisiana is 27-5 since the start of the 2019 season.
• Louisiana owns a 23-7 record against Sun Belt opposition under Coach Napier, including a perfect 14-0 mark against Sun Belt West opposition.
• With its victory over Arkansas State, Louisiana clinched bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive season.
• Louisiana is 34-5 under Coach Napier when scoring more than 20 points. After scoring 41 points against App State, the team is 13-0 when scoring more than 40 points under Napier.
• Since 2018, Louisiana is 18-4 when playing in games at 6 p.m. or later.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns own a 13-3 record in one-possession games since the start of the 2018 season.
• Louisiana has eight “super seniors” on the roster this year in quarterback Levi Lewis, linebacker Ferrod Gardner, offensive lineman Ken Marks, wide receiver Jalen Williams, linebacker Chauncey Manac, nose tackle Tayland Humphrey, safety Cameron Solomon and kicker Nate Snyder. Of the eight, Ken Marks and Ferrod Gardner are in their seventh season of eligibility.
• Levi Lewis needs three passing touchdowns to set the program record for career passing scores. The current record of 64 is held by Ragin’ Cajun legend Jake Delhomme.
• Chris Smith and Montrell Johnson stole the show on Oct. 21 at Arkansas State, combining for 388 yards on the ground. Smith’s 238 yards rushing were the fifth most in a single game in program history and is one of nine players in country to rush for over 230 yards this season, while Johnson’s 99-yard touchdown run was the longest in school history, Sun Belt Conference history, and tied the NCAA record.
• Louisiana is 9-for-12 on 4th Down this year, good for second in the Sun Belt and ninth nationally

TEAM NOTES
• In Billy Napier’s first four seasons, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have won three Sun Belt Conference West Division titles, were the 2020 Sun Belt Co-Champions and have won two bowl games (LendingTree Bowl (2020) and SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (2021)).
• Louisiana owns a perfect 14-0 record against Sun Belt West Division opponents and is 23-7 overall against Sun Belt opposition.
• After the tight win over Arkansas State, Louisiana is now 13-3 in one-possession games since 2018.
• Louisiana produced 546 yards of total offense against A-State, the 17th time the Cajuns have recorded 500+ yards in the Napier era and the second time this season, the first coming against Ohio (562). The team owns a 16-1 record in those contests.
• Of those 546 yards against the Red Wolves, 424 came on the ground. The Ragin’ Cajuns have rushed for more than 400 yards three times in the Napier era and own a 3-0 record in those contests.
• Louisiana has won 12-straight regular-season road games against Sun Belt teams and is 15-1 in regular-season road games since the start of the 2019 season.
• The 41 points scored against App State marked the 13th time that Louisiana has produced more than 40 points in a single game under Napier. The team is 13-0 in those games.
• Louisiana is 34-5 when scoring 20 or more points in the Napier era.
• After defeating Georgia Southern, Louisiana moved to 3-1 in Sun Belt openers under Napier.
• Louisiana’s defense held Ohio to just 14 points on Sept. 16, improving the Ragin’ Cajuns to 8-0 over the last four seasons when an opponent scores 14 or fewer points.
• Louisiana has eight “super seniors” on the roster this year in quarterback Levi Lewis, linebacker Ferrod Gardner, offensive lineman Ken Marks, wide receiver Jalen Williams, linebacker Chauncey Manac, nose tackle Tayland Humphrey, safety Cameron Solomon and kicker Nate Snyder. Of the eight, Ken Marks and Ferrod Gardner are entering their seventh season of eligibility.
• Per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Louisiana returns 96 percent of its production entering the 2021 season. The team has 93 percent of its offense returning and 98 percent of the defense coming back.
• Louisiana placed nine on the Sun Belt’s All-Conference teams after having 14 All-Conference selections at the end of the 2020 campaign
• Former Ragin’ Cajun running back Elijah Mitchell was drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft back in April after he was selected with the 194th pick in the Sixth Round by the San Francisco 49ers.
• Mitchell was the fourth player drafted during the Napier era.
• Louisiana’s play-by-play announcer Jay Walker is in his 30th year covering the Ragin’ Cajuns

QUARTERBACK NOTES
• Levi Lewis is 28-7 as the starting quarterback of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
• Went 11-for-20 for 122 yards on the road against Arkansas State (Oct. 21). With his yardage total, Lewis moved into second place for career passing yards in Louisiana history.
• Led Louisiana to an impressive win over App State, going 15-for-25 for 209 yards and a touchdown through the air and adding a rushing touchdown, his first of the season.
• Lewis has thrown for at least 200 yards in five out of the team’s seven games and is now 13-3 in his career when eclipsing the 200-yard marking through the air.
• Louisiana is 6-2 when Lewis records a rushing and passing score in the same game.
• Recorded a team-high 10 carries for 61 yards and his first rushing score of the year, while also completing nine passes for 49 yards at South Alabama (Oct. 2).
• Led Louisiana to its third consecutive victory in a Sun Belt Conference opener, going 17-for-28 for 249 yards and three passing touchdowns against Georgia Southern (Sept. 25).
• Accounted for 261 of Louisiana’s 378 yards of total offense against the Eagles after adding 12 yards rushing in the game.
• Louisiana is 18-1 when Lewis throws two or more touchdowns in a game.
• Was efficient against Ohio, throwing for more than 200 yards for a third consecutive game after completing 21 of his 29 attempts for 212 yards and touchdown.
• Lewis had a strong showing against Nicholls (Sept. 11), going 19-for-33 for 304 yards and throwing two touchdown passes.
• Lewis’ 304 passing yards were the third-most of his career and marked the third time he eclipsed the 300-yard passing threshold. It was also the 37th 300-yard passing performance in program history.
• Lewis went 28-for-40 for 282 yards and a touchdown in the team’s Week 1 loss at No. 21/19 Texas.
• His 282 passing yards were the fifth most in his career and the most in a season opener by a Ragin’ Cajun since Chris Masson threw for 283 yards against Southern on Sept. 5, 2009.
• The yardage total also marked the most by a Ragin’ Cajun against a Power 5 opponent since Blaine Gautier threw 236 yards against Oklahoma State on Sept. 15, 2012.
• Lewis is second in program history for career passing touchdown and third in career passing yards.
• He sits 14 yards behind Terrance Broadway for the second most career passing yards.
• Lewis and Jake Delhomme are the only quarterbacks in program history to throw for more than 7,500 yards and 60 touchdowns in their careers.
• Was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, AFCA Good Works Team Watch List, Wuerffel Trophy Preseason Watch List, CFPA National Watch List, Manning Award Watch List, Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Preseason Watch List

Sat., Oct. 30 @ 3:30 pm ET
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at App State Mountaineers

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

FIRST-AND-10 –
• The ULM Warhawks begin a stretch of four road contests in the final five games of the season on Saturday when they visit Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina, to face the App State Mountaineers. ULM has won back-to-back contests, knocking off South Alabama, 41-31, Saturday at Malone Stadium to improve to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. App State upset No. 14 Coastal Carolina, 30-27, on Wednesday, Oct. 20 to move to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the SBC.

• Saturday’s game marks the seventh meeting between ULM and App State. The Mountaineers have won five of the first six meetings between the two schools, including last year’s 31-13 win on Oct. 31 in Monroe. App State won the last meeting in Boone, 52-7, on Oct. 19, 2019. ULM’s lone win in the series was a 52-45 victory on Nov. 4, 2017 in Monroe.

• Freshman Chandler Rogers, who set career highs for pass completions (25), pass attempts (35), passing yards (369), passing touchdowns (4) and total offense (409 yards) to lead ULM to a 41-31 victory over South Alabama, has been selected as one of the eight Manning Award “Stars of the Week” as well as Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week. In addition, he was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Offensive Player of the Week. The 6-foot, 188-pound Rogers completed TD throws of 12 yards to Jared Sparks, 9 yards to Boogie Knight, 21 yards to Fred Lloyd Jr. and 81 yards to Will Derrick. His four TD passes match the highest single-game total by a ULM quarterback since 2017 (Caleb Evans vs. Arkansas State). His 81-yard strike to Derrick with 1:07 left in the third quarter matched the 10th-longest pass play in school history. He completed passes to nine different receivers and led the Warhawks to scores on five of six possessions during one stretch (four TDs and one field goal). Rogers also picked up 40 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Warhawks scored 17 unanswered points to close out the game, turning a 31-24 deficit into a 10-point win. In his last three starts, Rogers has completed 56-of-83 throws (.675) for 802 yards (267.3 ypg.), eight TDs and one interception. His passing efficiency rating during that stretch is an impressive 178.0.

• Junior Will Derrick set career highs with five receptions for 135 yards against South Alabama and scored his first career touchdown on an 81-yard bomb from Chandler Rogers for the go-ahead score (38-31) with 1:07 to play in the third quarter. Derrick picked 57 yards after the catch against the Jaguars, including 47 on the scoring play. His TD reception tied the 10th-longest pass play in ULM history and equaled the 19th-longest catch in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this season. Three of Derrick’s five receptions against USA resulted in first downs.

• Junior linebacker Zack Woodard recorded a career-high 13 tackles, including a half tackle for loss, to help lead ULM to a 41-31 victory over South Alabama. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Woodard posted double-figure tackles for the second-straight game (10 stops in a 31-28 win over Liberty) and the sixth time in his career. His previous career high was 12 tackles against Austin Peay in 2019 while playing at Jacksonville State. The Warhawk defense held USA to three consecutive three-and-outs during a key stretch in the second half while the ULM offense put 10 points on the scoreboard, which proved to be the final margin in the game). ULM limited the Jaguars to 89 yards rushing on 32 attempts (2.8 yards per carry). It marked the third time this season the Warhawks have held an opponent below 100 yards rushing.

• ULM linebackers Traveion Webster and Zack Woodard, who rank 1-2 on the team in tackles, rank among the Sun Belt Conference’s Top 10 in tackles. Webster leads the Warhawks with 53 tackles (19 solos, 34 assists), with 1.5 for losses including half a sack and a pass break-up. His 7.7 tackles per game is good for fourth in the SBC. Woodard, who ranks second on the team in tackles (47), tackles for loss (4 for 18 yards) and sacks (2.5 for 16 yards), is tied for eighth in the conference, averaging 6.7 stops per game. The duo has combined for 100 total tackles, with 5.5 for losses (26 yards) including three sacks (21 yards).

• ULM senior cornerback Mark Williams ranks 11th among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players with nine career interceptions. Williams recorded eight interceptions at Eastern Illinois before transferring to ULM. He picked off his first pass as a Warhawk against Liberty, coming up with the interception with 1:04 remaining to seal the 31-28 upset win over the Flames. Williams also ranks ninth among active NCAA FBS leaders with 34 career passes defended (9 interceptions, 25 pass break-ups).

• Fifth-year senior placekicker Calum Sutherland leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks tied for 10th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with 1.71 field goals made per game. Through seven games, Sutherland leads the Warhawks in scoring with 52 points and ranks third in the Sun Belt, averaging 7.4 points per game. He has converted 12-of-16 field-goal attempts and all 16 of his extra-point tries.

For the second week in a row, Sutherland has been selected Louisiana Sports Writers Association Special Teams Player of the Week after accounting for 11 points in ULM’s 41-31 victory over South Alabama Saturday night. He was perfect on the night, hitting both field-goal attempts (from 39 and 40 yards) and all five extra-point tries. It marked the second time this season he has provided doublefigure scoring in a game.

The 5-foot-10, 176-pound Sutherland was named Sun Belt and LSWA Special Teams Player of the Week after his game-winning 53-yard field goal with 1:43 to play in the fourth quarter lifted ULM to a 31-28 upset of Liberty. The kick is tied for the fifth-longest in school history. Sutherland, who had a 27-yard field-goal attempt blocked in the first quarter, accounted for seven points, hitting all four of his extra-point attempts to go along with his game-winning kick.

• ULM leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks tied for seventh in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in turnover margin at +1.14 per game. The Warhawks have recorded 14 takeaways (6 fumble recoveries, 8 interceptions) in seven games. By comparison, ULM totaled 10 takeaways (6 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions) in 10 games during the 2020 season.

• Since taking over the ULM program, first-year head coach Terry Bowden has emphasized the importance of playing disciplined football and his team has taken the message to heart. The Warhawks rank as one of the least-penalized teams in the Sun Belt Conference and NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. ULM leads the SBC and is tied for ninth in FBS at 4.29 penalties per game. The Warhawks also lead the SBC and are tied for 13th in FBS at 39.9 penalty yards per game.

THE LAST MEETING –
App State 31, ULM 13 (Oct. 31, 2020, in Monroe, Louisiana): ULM couldn’t scare up its first win of the season in a Halloween afternoon affair at Malone Stadium.
App State rushed for 328 yards against the Warhawks and rolled to a 31-13 win. ULM fell to 0-7, 0-4 in the Sun Belt Conference. Quarterback Zac Thomas, who improved to 27-4 as a starter, rushed for 109 yards and running back Marcus Williams added 103 yard to pace the Mountaineers (4-1, 2-0). App State tallied 480 total yards with 26 first downs in an overpowering performance. The Warhawks managed 222 yards with 16 first downs while committing three turnovers. Quarterback Colby Suits entered the game leading the Sun Belt in passing but completed 19-of-30 attempts for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Jeremy Hunt also saw action at quarterback, completing 3-of-9 passes for 20 yards and two picks.

App State Mountaineers

APP STATE STORYLINES
• App State, which took over first in the Sun Belt’s East Division with a sold-out home win vs. previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina, has a homecoming matchup with ULM, a winner of two straight games.

• Officially 4-0 at home with two Thursday games and one Wednesday game, App State leads the 130-team FBS at 105.4 percent attendance relative to capacity. The 31,604 average at 30,000-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium leads the Sun Belt’s second-place average by nearly 7,500. The only other FBS schools at 100-plus percent are Michigan (100.4 percent), Utah (100.3) and Georgia (100.0).

• Since App State joined the Sun Belt in 2014, the Mountaineers are 51-10 against teams from the league (28-4 at home). Their 83.6 winning percentage vs. league foes since they joined the FBS level ranks fifth nationally behind Ohio State (93.9), Alabama (91.3), Clemson (89.7) and Oklahoma (85.9).

• App State’s 79.8 win percentage (68-17) since 2015 is No. 6 nationally behind Alabama (86-7, 92.5%), Clemson (83-10, 89.2%), Ohio State (74-9, 89.2%), Oklahoma (75-12, 86.2%) and Georgia (69-17, 80.2%).

• Bednarik candidate D’Marco Jackson leads the Sun Belt at 9.7 tackles a game (68 total), is No. 3 at 1.3 tackles for loss per game (9.0 total) and is No. 7 at 0.7 sacks per game (4.0 total). Demetrius Taylor (23.5 career sacks) and Nick Hampton (12.5 career sacks) also have 4.0 sacks this season.

• Quarterback Chase Brice leads the Sun Belt at 262.9 passing yards per game following a 347-yard effort against Coastal Carolina, with Malik Williams (10 catches for 206 yards) and Corey Sutton (113 yards) giving App State a pair of 100-yard receivers for the third time in the last five games.

• Nate Noel leads the Sun Belt in rushing (635 yards, 90.7 per game), and Camerun Peoples is No. 1 with 10 rushing TDs even though he missed two straight games before scoring twice against CCU.

• Super senior WRs Thomas Hennigan, Malik Williams and Corey Sutton are all among the top eight in school history in both receiving yards (No. 4-Hennigan; No. 6-Williams; No. 8-Sutton) and receiving TDs (No. 5-Sutton; No. 6-Hennigan; T-No. 8-Williams). Another super senior, Jalen Virgil, is top 20 in TDs.

• Thomas Hennigan is tied for No. 1 in school history with 208 career catches — Andrew Peacock had 2018 from 2010-13. Among active, full-time FBS players, Hennigan ranks No. 3 in career catches.

• Chandler Staton hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired in last week’s 30-27 win against Coastal Carolina, giving him 55 career field goals to tie Bjorn Nittmo (1985-88) for No. 1 in school history

MORE STORYLINES
• App State’s impressive crowd support to start the 2021 season most recently included 31,061 fans at the Wednesday night win against Coastal Carolina — it’s the biggest crowd of the 115 FBS games played on a Tuesday or Wednesday since App State joined the Sun Belt in 2014.

• A Thursday season opener vs. ECU in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium was officially an App State home game that drew 36,752 fans, the Kidd Brewer Stadium debut vs. FCS-level Elon drew 30,224, and a Thursday home game vs. Marshall included a crowd of 28,377.

• Shawn Clark was the only first-year FBS head coach in 2020 to win nine-plus games. At 15-5, his 75.0 winning percentage is tied for No. 8 among current FBS coaches and No. 1 among current G5 coaches.

• App State is one of 12 schools to finish in the top 26 of AP Poll voting in each of the last three years. Four teams have at least nine wins in each of the last six years: App State, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.

• The Mountaineers opened Sun Belt play with a 45-16 win at Georgia State, as App State built a 45-9 lead and the first-team defense allowed only three field goals. The Panthers pulled within 14-9 midway through the third quarter before App State went on a 31-0 run over roughly the next 12 minutes.

• On Oct. 12, App State trailed 27-13 with a first down inside Louisiana’s 35-yard line late in the third quarter, but the Ragin’ Cajuns scored the final two touchdowns in a 41-13 victory.

• On Oct. 20, App State erased a 14-0 deficit with two TDs in a span of 42 seconds — helped by Michael Hughes’ one-hop onside kick to Milan Tucker — and the Mountaineers limited Coastal to 55 rushing yards — 208.5 below its season average — on 29 attempts in the 30-27 win.

• App State returned 10 defensive starters, seven offensive starters and 80 percent of the letter-winners from 2020, including 14 super seniors taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. Those 14 players have now combined to play 538 games for App State and make 353 starts.

• Last year was App State’s 36th straight season (seven in the Sun Belt, 29 in the SoCon) with a league record of .500 or better. Among current FBS programs, counting seasons before and after any transitions, it’s the longest streak by 14 years — Clemson, Oklahoma and Boise State are at 22 in a row.

• App State led in-state FBS programs in wins during each of the last three seasons and at least tied for the most wins among in-state FBS programs during each of the last six seasons.

• App State posted a combined record of 33-6 from 2018-20 with three different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators and three different defensive coordinators in those three seasons.

• App State’s defense has ranked in the top 21 nationally in fewest points allowed in each of the previous four years under four different coordinators, and the offense has ranked top 16 in the country in rushing yards per game in each of the last three years under three different coordinators.

• In his 25th season as an App State assistant, Dale Jones is in Year 2 as the defensive coordinator after the Mountaineers ranked among the national leaders in scoring defense (16th, 20.0 points) and total defense (17th, 328.8 yards) in 2020. Offensive coordinator Frank Ponce came back after serving as the Mountaineers’ co-offensive coordinator (passing game)/QBs coach from 2013-18. Shawn Clark worked with Ponce as App State’s co-offensive coordinator (run game) from 2016-18.

• App State has eight team captains: WR Thomas Hennigan, OL Baer Hunter, LB D’Marco Jackson, OL Cooper Hodges, DL Demetrius Taylor, P Xavier Subotsch, LB T.D. Roof and DL Caleb Spurlin.

• Thomas Hennigan, Caleb Spurlin and Xavier Subotsch have played in all 59 of App State’s games since the start of 2017. Hennigan’s FBS-record 58 starts to date broke the FBS record of 57 each by Clemson OL Mitch Wyatt and Alabama OL Ross Pierschbacher from 2015-18 (with three head-to-head title-game matchups in that span). The old school record of 55 belonged to cornerback Jerome Touchstone (2004-07, with three straight FCS national titles).

• In 2019, App State became the first Sun Belt team AND the first FBS team in North Carolina history to win 13 games in a season (13-1). Programs in North Carolina have posted an 11-win season at the FBS level a combined 10 times, and App State accounted for three of those in its first six FBS seasons.

• App State has the Sun Belt’s most-followed Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok accounts among football programs. It ranked No. 2 among G5 programs (behind just UCF) and No. 42 in the FBS in social media interactions in 2020.

OFFENSE
• App State was the only FBS team in 2020 with 500-yard rushing seasons from at least four players, and three of them are on the 2021 roster: Camerun Peoples, Nate Noel and Daetrich Harrington. They had yet to all play together in the same game this season before the Coastal Carolina game, when the trio combined for 186 rushing yards on 35 attempts (5.3 yards per carry).

• RB Daetrich Harrington returned to the lineup at Louisiana on Oct. 12 after tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time in his college career at Texas State on Nov. 7, 2020. He tore it in the spring of 2018 (returning nine months later to play at Georgia State in Game 10), suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss the last six regular-season games in 2019 (before returning for two postseason wins) and led the Sun Belt with 595 yards in the first six games of his injury-shortened 2020.

• Camerun Peoples scored three first-half TDs against Marshall, and Nate Noel rushed for 104 of his 187 yards during the fourth quarter, when App State turned a 30-21 deficit into a 31-30 win. Noel had gains of 11, 14, 41 and 22 yards on the final drive, smartly going down short of the end zone in the final two minutes to prevent Marshall from possibly regaining possession with an eight-point deficit.

• Camerun Peoples and Nate Noel both went over 100 yards in the season-opening win vs. ECU, and they officially ranked as the top two rushers in the Sun Belt before Peoples’ recent absence.

• Chase Brice had a single-game high of 279 passing yards in his first three FBS seasons and has eclipsed that four times in his first seven games for App State. In addition to his 347 yards against Coastal Carolina, he threw for 293 yards (Elon), 283 yards (Marshall) and 326 yards (Georgia State, three TDs) to go along with 259 yards against ECU.

• App State has four super senior receivers in Thomas Hennigan, Corey Sutton, Malik Williams and Jalen Virgil. They’ve combined for 597 career catches for 8,041 receiving yards and 63 touchdowns.

• In addition to being tied for first in school history with 208 career catches, Thomas Hennigan is No. 4 with 2,675 receiving yards and No. 6 with 18 TD receptions. Malik Williams has climbed to No. 6 in school history in both career catches (175) and receiving yards (2,111), while Corey Sutton is No. 8 with 1,979 career receiving yards (on 125 catches).

• Corey Sutton, a Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year candidate after he missed 2020 to fully recover from a 2019 knee injury, has eclipsed 100 yards in four of the last five games, including a streak of three straight. He had 21 catches for 361 yards and two TDs in a streak with 128 yards vs. Elon, 127 yards vs. Marshall (career-high 10 catches) and 106 yards vs. Georgia State.

• Despite sitting out last year, Corey Sutton has the second-most receiving TDs (21 in just 29 games) among Sun Belt players in FBS play since the start of 2018. After catching a career-high 10 passes for 127 yards vs. Marshall and dragging his back foot in bounds on a fourth-quarter TD grab that ranked No. 1 on SportsCenter’s top plays, he had a 79-yard TD at Georgia State and a 28-yard TD against CCU.

• With 11 plays of more than 40 yards in his career, Jalen Virgil is No. 4 overall (No. 1 among offensive skill position players) on “The Freaks List” from The Athletic, marking the fourth straight year he’s been named one of the most-gifted athletes in college football. At Miami, he scored on a 100-yard kickoff return for the second time in a span of four games (adding to one at Georgia Southern late in 2020).

• On the midseason honor roll for the Joe Moore Award, App State’s new-look offensive line includes All-Sun Belt pick Baer Hunter, who moved to center during the spring after starting 31 straight games at right guard, right tackle Cooper Hodges (All-Sun Belt pick who now has 32 career starts) and left tackle Anderson Hardy (three starts there in 2020). Isaiah Helms occupies the right guard spot as a Western Carolina transfer, while Damion Daley and Luke Smith have both performed well at left guard. Hunter, Daley and Smith all began their college careers as defensive linemen.

• Cooper Hodges leads the line with 45 knockdown blocks, followed by Isaiah Helms (36) and Baer Hunter (32). Running behind the “Bulls,” App State has ranked among the nation’s top 25 rushing teams in all seven of its FBS seasons: No. 6 in 2020 (264.9 yards), No. 16 in 2019 (231.4), No. 14 in 2018 (240.3), No. 22 in 2017 (223.6), No. 10 in 2016 (250.9), No. 6 in 2015 (271.5) and No. 18 in 2014 (241.8).

• Camerun Peoples capped a 1,124-yard rushing season in 2020 with 317 yards and five touchdowns in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. He set the NCAA single-game bowl record for rushing yards (Georgia Tech’s P.J. Daniels had 307 in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl), broke the school record for single-game rushing yards (Armanti Edwards had 313 in a 2007 FCS semifinal win), tied the NCAA bowl record for rushing TDs and tied the school record for rushing TDs (John Settle also had five vs. Davidson in 1986).

• Camerun Peoples arrived at the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl needing 193 yards to give App State a 1,000-yard rusher for the ninth straight year, and that streak is now the longest among current FBS programs. The second-longest active streak of three seasons is shared by Minnesota and Buffalo.

DEFENSE
• Jerry Moore is App State’s winningest head coach with a 215-87 record in 24 seasons. Through 24 years as an App State assistant, many alongside Moore, defensive coordinator Dale Jones has been part of 226 wins. He coached at Louisville with Scott Satterfield in 2019 following a 23-year run at App State, where he was the defensive coordinator from 2010-12 and co-defensive coordinator in 2018.

• A preseason All-American (honorable mention) from PFF College as well as a member of the watch lists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award, Demetrius Taylor increased his career total to 23.5 sacks with 1.5 vs. Coastal Carolina and 2.0 at Georgia State. He is No. 5 among active FBS players and tied for No. 5 in school history in career sacks.

• D’Marco Jackson had a career-high 14 tackles against Marshall less than a week after becoming the first FBS player since 2014 and first-ever Sun Belt player to record at least 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks in the same game (against Elon). In 2020, he was the only FBS player with at least 90 tackles (91), 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended (he had six PBUs), leading him to be called one of the nation’s most versatile players by ESPN.

• D’Marco Jackson was named the Sun Belt’s defensive player of the week after posting nine tackles, one sack, one interception, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry — all in the first three quarters — against Georgia State. The play gained 2 yards or less on seven of his tackles.

• With a sack in three straight games, OLB Nick Hampton has 4.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and 34 tackles this season, contributing to his 12.5 sacks and 20.5 TFLs in 31 games since the start of the 2019 season. Young backup Jalen McLeod has also come on strong (two TFLs and one sack vs. Marshall).

• T.D. Roof posted 2.0 sacks among seven tackles from his OLB position in his first career start at Miami, leading to him being named the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Week by The Draft Network, and he added a 90-yard INT return from the visiting end zone in the win against Elon. He came up with five big tackles in the win against Coastal Carolina, including three on the Chants’ 10 fourth-quarter plays.

• Caleb Spurlin, who paired a blocked field goal with a career-high seven tackles at Miami, had 1.5 sacks against Coastal Carolina and was the lead blocker on two rushing TDs vs. Marshall, is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award because of his versatility. Last season, he was the only FBS player (and just the third since 2000) with at least 2.5 sacks and two receiving TDs in the same year. He has provided the lead block as a fullback/H-back on five rushing touchdowns in his career.

• Strong safety Kaiden Smith started every game in 2020, returned for a sixth year as a super senior, suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an April 15 spring practice but returned less than six months later as a starter at Georgia State, then had a team-high 10 tackles at Louisiana. Caleb Spurlin gave up his captain’s spot for the Georgia State game to let Smith have it while playing close to his hometown.

• Shaun Jolly received All-America recognition in each of his first two years as a starting cornerback, with PFF College naming him a second-team All-American to end a five-INT campaign in 2019 (with two INTs vs. Georgia State) and Phil Steele naming him an Honorable Mention All-American in 2020. He had a tone-setting interception on the second play of this year’s Georgia State game and graded out well enough to be named to PFF College’s National Team of the Week at cornerback.

• Based on a Wins Above Average metric from PFF College, linebacker Brendan Harrington was named the fifth-most valuable defender in college football in 2020, and he recorded two sacks in the 2021 opener before adding half a sack against Marshall. Last season, he had 48 tackles, a team-leading four interceptions that produced 95 return yards, six pass breakups, 4.0 tackles for loss and four QB hurries.

• Steven Jones Jr. intercepted a pass at Louisiana, increasing App State’s INT total to 108 since 2015. That’s tied for second place nationally (with Iowa and San Diego State) behind just Alabama’s 112.

• With the 108 INTs since the start of 2015, four DBs who attended App State were with NFL franchises at the start of training camp: Shemar Jean-Charles (Packers draft pick, after leading the nation in PBUs and being a first-team All-American in 2020), Josh Thomas (Bills), Doug Middleton (Panthers) and Tae Hayes (Cardinals). Jean-Charles is the only departed starter from the 2020 defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS
• Assistant Brian Haines again directs a unit with returning starters at kicker (Chandler Staton), punter (Xavier Subotsch), long snapper (Christian Johnstone) and holder (Clayton Howell).

• Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week Chandler Staton has a league-record 404 career points. With 55 career field goals, he’s approaching the Sun Belt record of 60 by Idaho’s Austin Rehkow from 2014-16. Staton trails only RB Kevin Richardson (444 points from 2004-07) on App State’s scoring list.

• Chandler Staton, who hit a 45-yard FG to turn a 30-28 deficit into a 31-30 lead with 5:45 left in the Marshall win, added a 48-yard FG at Georgia State and hit the game-winner as time expired against Coastal Carolina, is 11-for-11 on field goals this season and 20-for-22 from 40-49 yards in his career.

• True freshman Michael Hughes perfectly executed an onside kick, recovered by Milan Tucker, against Coastal Carolina for the Mountaineers’ first successful onside kick since 2019 vs. Charlotte (that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown by Darrynton Evans).

Sat., Oct. 30 @ 4:00 pm CT
Arkansas State Red Wolves at South Alabama Jaguars

Arkansas State Red Wolves

ON TAP: Arkansas State continues Sun Belt Conference play this week, playing its first road game in almost a month at South Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 4:00 p.m. The contest will appear on ESPN+, and every A-State football game can be heard live on the EAB Sports Radio Network, including flagship station 107.9 FM in the Northeast Arkansas area.

THE PRINCIPALS: Following back-to-back midweek home games, A-State is set to play both on a Saturday and on the road for the first time in almost a month. Making their first ever appearance at Hancock Whitney Stadium, the Red Wolves are coming off a narrow 28-27 setback against Sun Belt Conference West Division-leader Louisiana. They will face a Jaguars team that stands 1-3 in league play, but its three losses have come by a combined 14 points.

HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES: Butch Jones was announced as the Red Wolves’ 31st all-time head football coach on December 12, 2020. Jones not only brought 11 years of head-coaching experience at the NCAA FBS level with him to Jonesboro after previous stops leading the football programs at Tennessee (2013-17), Cincinnati (2010-12) and Central Michigan (2007-09), but he also spent the last three seasons (2018-20) working as part of Nick Saban’s staff at national-power Alabama. During Jones’ first 11 seasons serving as a head coach, his teams combined to win four conference championships, played in eight bowl games and finished ranked in the AP Top 25 five times. He has coached a combined 77 all-conference honorees and 27 NFL Draft picks.

DEBUT GAMES: Butch Jones is A-State’s 31st all-time head coach, but became just the 11th to claim a victory in his first ever game at the school. Each of the two head coaches (Blake Anderson and Bryan Harsin) immediately preceding Jones won their initial games, but Harsin in 2013 was actually the first to do so since Larry Lacewell in 1979, snapping a streak of seven head coaches to drop their debuts. A-State’s head coaches to win their first game at the school include Jones (2021), Anderson (2014), Harsin, Lacewell, Bill Davidson (1971), Gene Harlow (1955), Glen Harmeson (1954), Bill Adams (1939), Jack Dale (1931), Bill Stanley (1924) and Clint Young (1913). Among the same group, Davidson was the last to win his first two games in 1971.

FAMILY TIES: Research indicates that Butch Jones is one of nine FBS head coaches in the nation with a son currently playing at an FBS institution. Adam Jones, one of Jones’ three sons, is currently a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Red Wolves after transferring from Central Michigan to A-State after Jones accepted the Red Wolves’ head coaching position. Jones’ oldest son, Alex, is also in his first season in an offensive quality control position for the Red Wolves. His youngest son, Andrew, is a member of the freshman football team at Valley View in Jonesboro.

THE ARKANSAS STATE – SOUTH ALABAMA SERIES:
Arkansas State holds a 6-3 all-Ɵ me record against South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference series that dates back to 2012. Six of the nine meetings have been decided by 10 points or less, including last season when the Jaguars won 38-31 in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves hold 2-2 record versus the Jaguars in Mobile, although those four games were played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Jaguars have won the last two meetings, with the Red Wolves’ last victory in the series coming 38-14 in 2018.

A-STATE vs THE SUN BELT: Arkansas State has won 58 of its last 82 Sun Belt Conference games (.707 winning percentage) to run its all-Ɵ me record in the league to 90-60. The Red Wolves hold their most all-Ɵ me victories against ULM with 27. A-State has defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001. Along with ULM and Louisiana, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.

RED WOLVES OCTOBER: Arkansas State holds a 26-12 record over its last 38 games played in the month of October for a .684 winning percentage. A-State had won 11 games in a row during the month prior to falling to Appalachian State on Oct. 9, 2018.

THE FIRST FIVE: While Arkansas State began its 2021 campaign with back-to-back home games for the first time since 1987, it then played three consecutive Saturdays on the road for the first time since 2004. The Red Wolves also played three road games in a row in 2020, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2008, but none of them on three consecutive Saturdays.

AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD …: run its all-time record versus South Alabama to 7-3 . . . snap a two-game skid against the Jaguars . . . improve its record to 27-12 over its last 39 games played in the month of October.

PASSING ATTACK: Including a school-record 582 passing yards against Memphis and 443 versus Georgia Southern, the eighth most in school history, Arkansas State has thrown for 2,440 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. The Red Wolves are averaging 348.6 passing yards per game that ranks eighth in the nation, while their 20 passing touchdowns are tied for the 11th most. A-State has thrown for at least 300 yards and two scores in five of its first seven games, including the UCA, Memphis, Tulsa, Georgia Southern and Louisiana contests.

RUNNING BACK RECEPTIONS: Running back Lincoln Pare has already caught 18 passes for 144 yards this season, which is 59 more yards than he had for all of last season as a true freshman. He’s ranked fourth on the team in receptions and fifth in receiving yards. His 18 catches are also six more than his career total entering the year. Pare finished the Washington game with seven catches for 69 yards — both career highs.

ON THE RETURN: A-State running back Johnnie Lang Jr. posted a career-long 63-yard punt return for a touchdown during A-State’s game at Tulsa, which was A-State’s first punt return for a score since Blaise Taylor also found the end zone on a 63-yard return against Nebraska in 2017. It was the longest return by a Sun Belt player this season, and he now has nine returns for 120 yards.

WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE: Although the Arkansas State defense collected its first turnover last week since its game against Tulsa, it finished with multiple turnovers gained for the fourth time this year. The Red Wolves have now won or tied the turnover battle in four of their seven games this season.

PICK IT OFF: Arkansas State posted one interception last week versus Louisiana and now has six on the season, which already ties its six total for all of last year. All six interceptions have come by different players, including Samy Johnson, EJ Alexander, Jeff mario Brown, Leon Jones, Jarius Reimonenq and Kenneth Harris. Johnson now has three career interceptions and Reimonenq two, while the other four players have posted their first pick this year as a member of the A-State football team.

DISRUPTING THE BACKFIELD: Junior defensive end Kivon BenneƩ has made an immediate impact on the A-State defense his first season with the program, already posting 11.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The Tennessee transfer has recorded 1.0 or more TFL in every game and at least a half sack in five outings.

DYNAMIC DUO: A-State’s two starting defensive ends, Jojo Ozougwu and Kivon BenneƩ, have combined for 20.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks through A-State’s first seven games. Both players have recorded 4.5 sacks this year, and Ozougwu has posted 9.0 tackles for loss to go along with BenneƩ ’s 11.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

EXPERIENCE UP FRONT: Arkansas State entered the season with nine different offensive linemen who had combined to start 149 career games at the FBS level, which was the fourth most in the nation behind only Minnesota (180), Miami (159) and Michigan State (151). Including players who have started at least one FCS game, the Red Wolves had 10 o-linemen who combined for 157 career starts, which was also the fourth most in the nation behind Illinois (193), Minnesota (180) and Miami (159).

LAMAR EARNS SBC WEEKLY AWARD: Senior running back Alan Lamar, who most recently posted a career-high 185 kickoff return yards that were the third most in school history, was named the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week following the Tulsa contest. During the game against the Golden Hurricane, he recorded a 93-yard return that tied the ninth longest in A-State history and was the second longest by a Sun Belt player this season. It marked the first time since 2019 that an A-State player returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

RUCKER HONORED: Wide receiver Corey Rucker was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. After recording nine receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns against UCA. He was also named the league’s offensive player of the week following the Red Wolves’ 2020 season finale. Over his last eight games played, he has recorded 44 receptions for 860 yards and 12 touchdowns — he has at least one TD reception in six of those seven outings.

HOME SWEET HOME: Arkansas State strung together 16 consecuƟ ve years from 2005-20 with a winning
record at Centennial Bank Stadium. The Red Wolves
are now 72-22 (.766 winning percentage) when playing at home since the 2005 season. A-State’s actual
on-fi eld record all-Ɵ me at Centennial Bank Stadium
is 164-85-1 since it opened in 1974.

A LOOK BACK: A-State’s first spring camp under HC Butch Jones wrapped up April 17 with its spring game at Centennial Bank Stadium. There were several spring-camp team awards presented as the football staff chose five individuals who maintained consistent success on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom. The players recognized for “consistency in performance” were wide receiver Corey Rucker (offense), linebacker Caleb Bonner (defense) and kicker Blake Grupe (special teams). Senior safety EJ Alexander was awarded the “Pack Performance Award” for his consistent performance in the weight room. Defensive back Taylon Doss was issued the 4-6/A to B” award for his performance on special teams in the secondary.

IT’S GOOD: Junior kicker Blake Grupe continues to climb the A-State record books this season, ranking among the top three players in career points scored, field goals made and extra points made. Grupe has posted a double-digit points total in three of seven games this season, including a career-high 14 against Memphis. Grupe is 10-of-14 on field goals attempts this season, including a career-long covering 50 yards against Tulsa.

INSIDE THE 20: Ryan Hanson has posted at least two punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in five of seven games this year, including a career-high four against Washington. His 16 total punts inside the 20 leads the Sun Belt Conference. Additionally, his 43.3 average per punt is a full three yards per attempt better than his 40.3 average a year ago.

South Alabama Jaguars

No notes available

Sat., Oct. 30 @ 6:00 pm ET
Georgia State Panthers at Georgia Southern Eagles

Georgia State Panthers

THE KICKOFF: Georgia State takes a two-game winning streak into the annual rivalry game with Georgia Southern, Saturday at 6 p.m. at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro.

> The Panthers are coming off a 28-16 win over Texas State in which quarterback Darren Grainger passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 91 yards. Behind Grainger, Tucker Gregg (115 yards) and Jamyest Williams (career-high 77 yards and two touchdowns), the Panthers piled up 298 yards on the ground, while the GSU defense allowed just one touchdown and three field goals while collecting five sacks and two turnovers.

> In their last two games, wins over ULM and Texas State, the Panthers have averaged 41.5 points and 535 yards of offense, including 312 yards rushing and 223 yards passing.

> Georgia State ranks No. 17 in FBS in rushing, averaging 219.7 ypg.

> Georgia State begins a stretch of three straight road games, with trips to Louisiana (Nov. 4) and No. 24 Coastal Carolina (Nov. 13) to follow. The win over Texas State was the Panthers’ lone home game between Oct. 2 and Nov. 20, when GSU returns home to host Troy and then Arkansas State.

THE SERIES: Georgia State holds a 4-3 lead in the series, which began in 2014.

> Last season in Atlanta, Cornelious Brown IV passed for a career-high 372 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 2:54 to play to send Georgia State to a 30-24 victory. The Panthers trailed 24-13 in the fourth quarter before scoring 17 straight points. Sam Pinckney had a career-high 10 catches for 126 yards, Cornelius McCoy joined him in the 100-yard column with five receptions for 111 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, and Terrance Dixon added seven catches for a career-best 77 yards.

> In 2017 in Statesboro, Penny Hart caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Conner Manning with 2:31 to play to give the Panthers a 21-17 come-from-behind win. Hart finished with eight catches for a school-record 191 yards.

> In 2016, in its last game at the Georgia Dome, Georgia State won its second straight in the series, 30-24. Conner Manning passed for 318 yards and the Panthers scored on their first three possessions for a 20-0 lead.

> In 2015, Georgia State recorded a record-setting and bowl-clinching 34-7 victory in Statesboro. The Panthers handed Georgia Southern their worst home loss ever as
the GSU defense limited the Eagles to 135 yards rushing and a school-record 203 yards of total offense. After a 7-7 first half, the Panthers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half.

RECORD-SETTING WIN AT ULM: The Panthers produced one of the top offensive outputs in program history in their 55-21 victory at ULM. GSU scored a school-record eight touchdowns while tying the program highs for points scored (55), margin of victory (34) and first downs (39). The offense piled up 572 total yards, including 326 yards on the ground, the fifth-best single-game in GSU annals.

> Quarterback Darren Grainger tied the GSU record by accounting for five touchdowns while passing for 230 yards and rushing for 84. He threw two TD passes each to TE Aubry Payne and WR Ja’Cyais Credle and also scored on a 1-yard run.

NO MATTER HOW YOU SAY IT: Although his last name is frequently mispronounced, there is no mistaking ILB Jordan Veneziale (ven-zee-AL) as Georgia State’s leading tackler. The junior moved into the starting lineup in Game 2 vs. North Carolina, and for the season, he has collected 58 tackles, with 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His average of 8.3 tackles per game ranks third in the Sun Belt.

TUCKER THE TRUCKER: Senior running back Tucker Gregg, known for his hard-nosed style, trucked his way over the 1,000-yard mark for career rushing against Texas State.

> Gregg recorded his third career 100-yard game with 115 yards vs. the Bobcats, including a key fourth-down run.

> Gregg rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 12 carries at No. 23 Auburn. He had a career-long 57-yard run to set up a score in the first quarter, and then a 50-yard TD run to put GSU ahead 24-10 late in the second quarter. He is the first Panther to have two-runs of 50 or more yards in the same game.

> Gregg now has 1,072 career rushing yards to move into ninth place in GSU history.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Those Playing its second nationally-ranked Power 5 opponent in three games, Georgia State battled No. 23 Auburn down to the wire, leading 24-19 until the Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-down play with 45 seconds left.

> The Panthers rushed for 267 yards in the game, including a career-high 150 by Tucker Gregg. QB Darren Grainger, making his second start, rushed for 61 yards and threw TD passes to Jamari Thrash and Roger Carter.

> The GSU defense held Auburn to 167 yards rushing and did not allow an offensive touchdown until the game-winning drive.

IN A RUSH: The Georgia State has achieved three of the top nine rushing games in program history in the last five games, gaining 326 yards against ULM and 298 vs.
Charlotte and Texas State

> The top five single-game rushing performances, and eight of the top nine, have come in the three seasons under offensive coordinator Brad Glenn (2019-present):

414 ULM, 2019
390 Troy, 2019
350 Coastal Carolina, 2019
340 Arkansas State, 2019
326 ULM, 2021
308 ULM, 2018
301 Campbell, 2011
298 Charlotte, 2021
298 Texas State, 2021

> In the win over ULM, the Panthers gained 326 yards on the ground, the fifth-best single-game in program history. QB Darren Grainger led the way with 84 yards, followed by Tucker Gregg (83) and Jamyest Williams (67).

> Against Texas State, it was Gregg (115), Williams (92) and Grainger (91) again.

> The Panthers also rushed for 298 yards in their win over Charlotte, with four players gaining 60 or more yards: Destin Coates (83), Gregg (76), Williams (73) and Grainger (64).

> Leading 13-9 with nine minutes to play vs. Charlotte, GSU forced a punt and took over at its own 10-yard line. The Panthers proceeded to eat up 7:20 on the clock by running 13 straight times for 90 yards, capped by Williams’ 13-yard TD with 1:38 left.

ON GUARD: Super senior left guard Shamarious Gilmore, the veteran of the Georgia State program, played in his 54th straight game against Texas State. The four-time All-Sun Belt selection had his streak of 51 consecutive starts snapped against Appalachian State due to an injury, but he holds the school records for most games played and most starts.

ROGER THAT: Super senior tight end Roger Carter caught a 7-yard touchdown pass at Auburn for his 11th career touchdown reception. That gives him the GSU record for
touchdowns by a tight end passing Keith Rucker (10, 2013-16).

> Carter has 85 career receptions for 1,002 yards, second to Rucker in both categories among all GSU tight ends.

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU: Senior running back Tucker Gregg has converted sixth fourth-down runs into first downs.

> Against Texas State, with the Panthers holding a just a 14-13 lead and facing 4th-and-1 at the GSU 42, Gregg took the handoff up the middle and appeared to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage, but he bounced outside and raced 14 yards around the right end for the first down. Three plays later, Georgia State scored a touchdown to go up 21-13.

> Gregg had three fourth-down conversion runs in the second half of the win at Charlotte. One game earlier, he had two fourth-down conversions at North Carolina, giving him five in the two games.

THRASH, CREDLE EMERGE: With top receivers Sam Pinckney and Cornelius McCoy battling injuries, sophomores Jamari Thrash and Ja’Cyais Credle have stepped up.

> Thrash is the Panthers leading receiver with 21 catches for 294 yards, including a 35-yard TD catch vs. Charlotte, a 12-yard TD at Auburn and a 35-yard TD vs. Texas State

> Credle, the transfer from UCF, has 15 catches for 231 yards. In the win over Charlotte, he had a 33-yard reception to set up a touchdown and then a 28-yard TD catch.

> Credle had his best game in the win at ULM, recording career highs with seven receptions for 130 yards, including touchdown catches of 31 and 38 yards.

Georgia Southern Eagles

Series History
Overall Record………………………………………….GAST leads, 4-3
In Statesboro………………………………………….. GAST leads, 2-1
In Atlanta…………………………………………………………. Tied, 2-2
At Neutral ……………………………………………………….Never Met
Elliott vs. GS………………………………………………………………2-2
Whitley vs. GAST……………………………………………..Never Met
Whitley vs. Elliott……………………………………………Never Met
Current Streak…………………………………… GAST, Won 1 (2020)
Last Meeting …………………………………. GAST 30, GS 24 (2020)
Longest GS Streak………………………………….Two (2018-2019)
Longest GAST Streak ……………………………Three (2015-2017)
Largest GS Win…………………………38 points (2014 in Atlanta)
Largest GAST Win…………………27 points (2015 in Statesboro)
GS vs. current Sun Belt Members……………………….52-51-1
GS vs. teams from Georgia …………………………………25-14-1
GS in state of Georgia……………………………………….220-59-1

Of Note

• Despite their proximity, Georgia Southern and Georgia State have met just seven times before with the Panthers leading series tied 4-3. The Eagles won the first game in the series 69-31 in 2014 in Atlanta, but then the Panthers took the next three games, winning 34-7 in 2015 in Statesboro, 30-24 in 2016 in Atlanta and 21-17 in 2017 in Statesboro. GS won the next two games, 35-14 in 2018 in Atlanta and 38-10 in 2019 in Statesboro before the Panthers won last year 30-24 in Atlanta.

• Former Georgia Southern all-conference defensive back Darius Eubanks is in his first season coaching safeties at Georgia State. Former Georgia Southern cornerbacks coach Corey Peoples is in his second season coaching the cornerbacks at Georgia State.

• Georgia Southern is 30-8 on Homecoming in the modern era after beating Troy last year.

• GS has 73 players on its roster from the state of Georgia

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
10 Running back Logan Wright leads the Eagles with 10 plays of 25 yards or more (8 run, 2 catch).

9 Georgia Southern has nine touchdown runs of 20 yards or more this season, including five of 59 yards or longer.

8 The Eagles have lost on Homecoming just eight times in 38 previous seasons.

7 Georgia Southern and Georgia State have met seven previous times on the gridiron with the Panthers leading 4-3. The Eagles won in 2019 and 2020 before the Panthers won last season in Atlanta.

6 Kicker Alex Raynor has made his last six field goals over the past three games. He has a long of 44 yards this year, coming against South Alabama in the Eagles’ last game.

5 Georgia Southern has started the same five offensive lineman for the first seven games this season.

4 Tailback Gerald Green (890 yards) needs 110 yards on the ground to become the fourth player on the 2021 roster with 1,000 or more collegiate rushing yards, joining Logan Wright (1,745), J.D. King (1,541) and Tulane transfer Amare Jones (1,097).

3 The Eagles are looking to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season. GS hasn’t had two three-game losing streaks since 2016 and just one other time in program history (1996).

2 Punter Anthony Beck II is averaging two punts per games downed inside the 20-yard line. The junior has 14 such kicks in seven games and is averaging 44.3 yards per punt this season, the second-best average in the Sun Belt.

1 Georgia State has one former Georgia Southern player on its coaching staff in Darius Eubanks.

Notable Streaks and Trends Entering the Game
• The Eagles have a +42 turnover margin over the past 52 games, taking the ball away 87 times against just 44 turnovers.

• Georgia Southern has had a 100-yard rusher in 32 of its past 49 games.

• Since the start of the 2018 season, Georgia Southern has had 32 100-yard rushing performances, coming from nine different players. The nine different 100-yard
rushers is the most in the conference during that span.

• GS has outrushed its opponent in 70 of the past 95 games dating back to the start of the 2014 season.

• Georgia Southern has forced at least one turnover in 38 of its past 49 games, but had yet to force a turnover in four games this season before forcing four against Arkansas State.

• Dating back to 2017, the Eagles have won 18 of their past 23 games when not committing a turnover.

• Dating back to 2014, the Eagles have won 31 of their past 44 games when winning the turnover battle.

• GS has won 27 of the past 34 games when winning the rushing battle.

• Dating back to Furman in 2013, Georgia Southern has lost its last 26 games when being outrushed. The last time the Eagles won a game while being outrushed was against The Citadel (14-12) in 2011.

• The Eagles have won 44 of the past 46 games when they’ve rushed for 300 yards or more.

• Georgia Southern has won 23 of its past 27 games when having a 100-yard rusher.

• The Eagles have won 63 consecutive games when rushing for at least 400 yards.

• In the modern era, GS is 241-18 when scoring 30 or more points, 105-140-1 when scoring less than 30 points. As a member of the FBS (since 2014), the Eagles are
35-4 when scoring 30 or more points, 17-37 when scoring less than 30 points.

• GS is 216-1 all-time when having a lead of 18 or more points at any point in the game. That lone loss came in 2005 when the Eagles led at Texas State 35-16 in
the third quarter and lost 50-35.

• The Eagles are 209-33 in the modern era (since 1984) when winning the turnover battle in a game, 66-95-1 when losing it, and 70-29 when the margin is tied.

• Since 1984, Georgia Southern is 192-16 when allowing 17 points or less. The last time the Eagles lost a game when allowing less than 18 points was in 2013, a 16-14 loss to Furman at home. The current streak of victories when allowing 17 or less points is at 28.

• Georgia Southern has had five 500-yard rushing performances since joining the FBS in 2014. The rest of the league has combined for three 500-yard rushing games during that span.

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