This Tuesday the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (3-3, 2-4 ATS) will host the Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-2, 5-1 ATS) in a key Sun Belt matchup. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 EST at Cajun Field and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Oddsmakers currently have Arkansas State listed as a 2-point road favorite over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Both of these teams are currently sitting undefeated in conference play at 2-0, though both are looking up at Georgia Southern, who has opened up 4-0 inside the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves won 28-14 at home over ULM and 52-10 at Georgia State, while the Ragin’ Cajuns have defeated Georgia State at home 34-31 and won at Texas State 34-10. Last year Louisiana-Lafayette won 23-7 at Arkansas State in a pick’em.
Early Lean on Arkansas State -2
It’s amazing what Arkansas State has been able to do with no stability at head coach. Over the last 3 years the Red Wolves have watched Hugh Freeze leave for Ole Miss, Guz Malzahn depart for Auburn and Bryan Harsin jump ship to Boise State. So far it’s been an impressive start for 1st year head coach Blake Anderson, who has Arkansas State off to a strong start, despite returning just 12 starts (only 4 on offense). The Red Wolves only two losses on the season have come on the road against two power 5 conference opponents in Tennessee and Miami. Their most impressive win so far has been a 21-14 home win over Utah State.
Arkansas State comes into this game ranked 39th in the country in total offense (452.2 ypg), thanks in large part to the play of junior quarterback Fredi Knighten in his first year as the starter. Knighten has completed 61.6% of his attempts for 1,291 yards with 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 333 yards and a team-high 6 scores on the ground. Knighten has got plenty of help from junior running back Michael Gordon (441 yards, 4 TDs, 9.4 ypc) and junior wide out J.D. McKissic (35 receptions, 383 yards).
Road teams who have a winning record on the season with a line of +3 to -3 who are coming off back-to-back conference wins by 10 or more points are 30-8 (79%) ATS over the last 5 seasons.
While Louisiana-Lafayette was able to slow down Texas State last week, I think the Ragin’ Cajuns are going to have a difficult time keeping the Red Wolves in check. Lafayette comes in ranked just 76th against the run (172.2 ypg) and 94th against the pass (256.2 ypg).
One of the things I like to look at is common opponents. Both of these teams have played Georgia State and the numbers are pretty convincing that Arkansas State is the better team here. The Red Wolves put up 52 points on 618 yards of total offense against the Panthers, while the Ragin’ Cajuns managed 34-points on 461 yards of total offense. Defensively Arkansas State held Georgia State to just 269 yards, while Louisiana allowed 425 yards. Adding to this is the fact that the Red Wolves played the Panthers on the road, while the Ragin’ Cajuns were at home. It’s also worth noting that Louisiana-Lafayette needed a late touchdown to escape with a win, while Arkansas State had a 52-3 lead before giving up a garbage touchdown.
There’s a strong system in play favoring a play on the Red Wolves. Road teams who have a winning record on the season with a line of +3 to -3 who are coming off back-to-back conference wins by 10 or more points are 30-8 (79%) ATS over the last 5 seasons. Arkansas State is also 23-8-1 ATS in their last 32 conference games and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games. Louisiana-Lafayette is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 conference games and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU win.