Most people do not equate the Sun Belt Conference to defense, but UL Monroe and Arkansas State have two of the better defenses in the conference and it should show Saturday.
In what could be a not-too-common defensive minded battle inside the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday, the UL Monroe Warhawks (3-1, 1-3 ATS) pay a visit to the Arkansas State Red Wolves (2-2, 3-1 ATS) at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, AR at 7:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 50½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -106.
One Team Opening Conference Play
This is the conference opener for Arkansas State, which was toughened by a nice non-conference schedule losing at Tennessee and Miami Florida while beating Utah State at home, and it also won its lone cupcake game thus far over Montana State. The Red Wolves have won 10 of their last 11 home games overall with the loss coming last year to the eventual Sun Belt Champions from UL Lafayette.
UL Monroe has already played two conference games and it is a perfect 2-0 on the Sun Belt college football picks posting close wins 22-20 over Tory last week and 38-31 over Idaho three games ago with both of those contests being at home. Those two wins were split by a 31-0 non-conference loss at LSU on the Warhawks’ only road game up until now.
Not Embarrassed vs. Stiff Competition
The Arkansas State defense has actually held up well vs. stiff competition despite allowing some high yardage totals, as the Red Wolves limited Tennessee to 3.7 yards per rush and 6.5 yards per pass attempt, and then held Utah State to 3.9 yards per rush and 5.7 yards per pass. That should prepare the defense well for Sun Belt play, and remember that ASU had its way with ULM defensively in a 42-14 romp last year, allowing only 328 total yards.
The offense has not looked as good however since putting up 37 points vs. Montana State out of the FCS on the season opener, averaging just an even 20.0 points vs. the three FBS opponents. Last week’s 21-14 win over Utah State came in overtime and yet Arkansas State still managed just 316 total yards. The Red Wolves are ranked 88th in the country in total offense at 383.5 yards per game.
Best defense in the Conference?
Meanwhile UL Monroe currently leads all Sun Belt teams in total defense allowing 314.7 yards per game, amazingly ranking it 22nd in the country among all teams! And much like the Arkansas State defense, the Monroe unit stood up fairly well even when the Warhawks were outclassed, as it allowed a reasonable 372 total yards in the shutout loss at LSU.
In fact these teams are almost mirror images on both sides of the ball as UL Monroe is another team whose defense seems well ahead of the offense at this relatively early stage of the season. The Warhawks are averaging just 19.2 points overall while ranking 110th in the nation in total offense with 334.0 yards per game. They have been particularly dreadful on the ground averaging a mere 89.5 rushing yards per game on a disgusting 2.7 yards per carry.
The passing offense has been a bit better but it is still well below average, averaging 244.5 yards on only 6.2 yards per pass attempt.
Both teams like ‘unders’
Finally, as you would expect given the profiles of these schools this young season, the ‘under’ has gone an identical 3-1 for each of these teams.
We expect more of the same in this battle so go ‘under’ from Jonesboro on Saturday.
College Football Pick: UL Monroe, Arkansas State ‘under’ 50½ (-110)