Arkansas State 26 ... at WKU 22
Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Arkansas State at WKU

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - Arkansas State at WKU

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Oct. 1 Arkansas State 26 ... at WKU 22
CFN Analysis: Considering the problems WKU has had scoring, Arkansas State has to be a bit worried about how much work it took to put this away. Ryan Aplin threw for 396 yards and led the team on a great final march to avoid a miserable embarrassment, with Derek Lawson pounding it in for the game-winning score in the final seconds. The offensive line was awful, doing nothing for the ground game while allowing four sacks, but it came through when it needed to on the final drive. While this was a shaky win, now there's no margin for error with a trip to ULM next week and the showdown with FIU to follow.

The defense was fantastic until the final ASU scoring drive. The pass rush was terrific, Andrew Jackson continues to play like a Sun Belt Player of the Year candidate, and the defensive front didn't allow a thing on the ground, but the offense couldn't close things out with a grinding drive, Bobby Rainey never got loose – running for 86 yards on 28 carries – and the passing game only got one big play out of Rainey. Coming off the Indiana State disaster this was a strong effort, but it was a tough loss with three road games in the next four and five in the next seven.

(AP) BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Ryan Aplin went 37 of 49 for 396 yards and a touchdown and Derek Lawson scored from a yard out with 43 seconds to go Saturday as Arkansas State defeated Western Kentucky 26-22.

The Hilltoppers (0-4, 0-1 Sun Belt Conference) extended a nation-leading 18-game home losing streak that dates back to September 2008.

The Red Wolves (3-2, 1-0) turned Western Kentucky over on downs with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter and put together a nine-play, 67-yard drive to cap the win.

Bobby Rainey threw for a touchdown and received another to lead Western Kentucky. He also rushed for 86 yards.

Aplin's top targets were Dwayne Frampton with 126 receiving yards and Josh Jarboe with 112.

Arkansas State, which avenged a 36-35 loss to the Hilltoppers last season, came into the game leading the Sun Belt in rushing but finished with a combined 25 yards on 28 attempts.

Arkansas State (2-2) at Western Kentucky (0-3) Oct. 1, 4:00, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … If Arkansas State wants to have any shot at the Sun Belt title, now is the time to flex a little muscle against a Western Kentucky team that's reeling after a disastrous few weeks.

The Hilltoppers were supposed to take a bit step forward, and they appeared to with a good defensive showing in the loss to Kentucky. But after getting ripped apart by Navy, and getting destroyed by Indiana State, all of a sudden, the hope that things were changing this season under head coach Willie Taggart is dying. It's the start of the Sun Belt season, though, and WKU has had two weeks since the 44-16 loss to the Sycamores. With a bad Florida Atlantic team up next, the year can change around in a big hurry with a win.

Arkansas State lost to WKU last year 36-35, and it's not going to take this game lightly in any way. The Red Wolves blew away Memphis and Central Arkansas, and weren't that bad in losses to Illinois and Virginia Tech. With FIU, Louisiana, and Troy all at home, ASU is the Sun Belt team that no one is talking about. A dominant win over WKU on the road might change that.

Why Arkansas State Might Win: The pass and the play of the defensive line should be too much for the WKU offensive front. The Hilltoppers are struggling to keep the defenses out of the backfield, and it's showing with a wildly inefficient passing game and with star running back Bobby Rainey working way too hard. ASU's offense ranked No. 1 among Sun Belt teams with a running game that's getting production from several parts, so if it can get an early lead, the defensive front will take over on one side, and the running game should be able to close things out on the other.

Why Western Kentucky Might Win: ASU is having a hard time holding on to the ball. The Red Wolves are moving the chains, but they're also giving the ball up with a pick in every game and five interceptions given away on the season. With nine turnovers in four games, ASU has been its own worst enemy at times. WKU has been killed in turnover margin so far, but this week it has a chance to at least break even if the pass rush can get to quarterback Ryan Aplin on a regular basis.

What To Watch Out For: WKU sophomore linebacker Andrew Jackson continues to look like a superstar. He was the bright spot in the nationally televised loss to Kentucky, making 12 tackles and a sack with two tackles for loss, and he hasn't slowed down with ten tackles and a forced fumble against Navy and 13 tackles and two tackles for loss against Indiana State. He's been a force as the leader and the star of the defense, but he needs help from the offense.

ASU freshman running back Frankie Jackson has been a find. Very quick and very productive, he ran for 101 yards against Memphis and leads the team with 174 yards and two touchdowns. However, he hurt his knee early in the Central Arkansas win, and now senior veteran Derek Lawson should get more work, The main man last year with 500 rushing yards and four scores, his role has been diminished a bit. Now the coaching staff will rely on him more until Jackson is back to 100%.

What Will Happen: WKU should be a different team after two weeks to sit and stew on the Indiana State shocker, but it won't be enough. The offense, even if Rainey is rolling, isn't nearly explosive enough to keep up with the balanced ASU attack. The Red Wolves will turn it over twice, but WKU will give it away four times turning a close battle into a blowout.

CFN Prediction: Arkansas State 38 … WKU 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Arkansas State -12.5   O/U: 51.5

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