The Red Wolves (9-2, 7-0) accepted an invitation to play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl after their 45-19 victory over Middle Tennessee on the road. The victory clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt title for Arkansas State after a 7-0 start in conference action.
"Very happy to accept an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl. It's a great reward for this program and our fans, and I couldn't be more thrilled," first year ASU coach Hugh Freeze said after his victory over Middle Tennessee. "We realize we still have one game left in the regular season and we want to finish strong at home when Troy comes to town in two weeks."
The Red Wolves hold a one-game lead over Western Kentucky, which beat North Texas 31-21 on Saturday. They can still clinch the SBC title outright with a loss by Western Kentucky in its regular-season finale Nov. 26 against Troy or with by beating Troy in their regular season finale on Dec. 3 at home in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves will be off this upcoming week, the second bye week the team has had this season.
The last time Arkansas State competed in a bowl game was the 2005 New Orleans bowl when the team lost to Conference USA member Southern Mississippi.
ASU began the game getting a double-figure lead in the first quarter for the fourth consecutive game. Including the victory over Middle Tennessee Saturday, ASU has now outscored its last four opponents 44-2 in the first quarter.
With nine victories in its first 11 games Arkansas State now holds is best record through 11 games since 1986 when the team, then known as "the Indians" started 9-1-1.
The 7-0 start in conference play is Arkansas State's first ever 7-0 record as a member of any conference. The seven game conference winning streak is the first since 1985-86. The Red Wolves are just the third school to ever win its first seven SBC games.
The fourth road victory of the season is Arkansas State's most since the 1987 season. The four-game winning streak on the road is the team's longest since 1975.
Keep An Eye On: LB Demario Davis-The senior has had a knack for making big plays and causing turnovers for the Red Wolves during his career. Davis' fumble recovery against the Blue Raiders was his first of the season and third of the career. He also finished the game with five tackles, one for a loss.
Looking Good: The Arkansas State defense held the Blue Raiders to 19 points, meaning ASU has now held four of its last six opponents under 20 points. The Blue Raiders were also the fifth opponent that ASU's defense has held under 300 yards total offense and the sixth opponent ASU has held under 100 yards rushing.
Still Needs Work: When you are on a roll and winning all of your games it's hard to find something that still needs work considering both the ASU offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders. Continuing to improve in both areas before the regular season finale against Troy is a must, though, if the Red Wolves want to finish the 2011 season with an undefeated Sun Belt record.
Quote To Note: "I am extremely proud of this football team for what we have accomplished this season. To come here and grab a share of the conference title on the road was very tough and we are very appreciative of the many fans who made the trip over here to support us."-ASU head coach Hugh Freeze.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
QB Ryan Aplin led Arkansas State with 294 passing yards and three touchdowns. Aplin has now thrown touchdown passes in eight straight games and his 17 on the year give him the second most in school history. Aplin also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown.
WR Dwayne Frampton caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season moving him into a tie for sixth most in school history for a single season. Frampton has now recorded 11 career touchdown receptions, tied for fourth most in school history. Frampton also broke the school record for single-season receptions, finishing the game with 10 to give him 80 for his career. His 100 yards receiving was the fourth time this season and fifth time of his career as he finished the game with 141 for the second best game of his career.
DE Brandon Joiner recorded one sack to give him 11.5 for the season, moving him into second place for most sacks in a single season. He also moved into a tie for third most sacks in Sun Belt Conference single-season history.
WR Dwayne Frampton was a bit beat up during the game after taking numerous hits on his 10 receptions but will be good to go when the Red Wolves host Troy in two weeks.