Jay Bir: The 2013 Red Wolves Season, Game by Game

Mother Nature is a college football fan.  I mean, c’mon, low 80s and high 70s with a slight breeze screams football and it’s gotten the masses foaming at the mouth for kickoff.

I know I’m ready!

The story lines across the state will be in abundance this year.  Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bret Bielema’s first season on the Hill; ANOTHER new head coach at Arkansas State; UCA trying to continue it’s run in the Southland and possibly even deeper into the playoffs; UAPB defending their SWAC title and also their HBCU national title (betcha didn’t know there was one of those!); and not to mention all the GAC football.

Now with the preseason comes hope, optimism, and prognostication.  Every team is going 12-0 and doing big things and the funny thing is, we can make it seem rational to ourselves and others.  The good folks here at Sporting Life Arkansas have asked me to prognosticate the 2013 Red Wolves season.  So without further ado:

vs UAPB – An exciting game for the state because it’s *GASP* an IN-STATE game!!!  Maybe not quite the hype of ASU-UCA from a couple years ago, but this game has been a long time coming.  UAPB is a good team and have a lot of returning talent, especially at the quarterback position.  Ben Anderson is a dynamic player who can flat out make plays but the front seven for the Red Wolves will be the most vicious he and the Golden Lions offense will face all year.  ASU is just flat out HUGE this year on both sides of the line, and it will become obvious pretty early in this one as to the outcome.  UAPB gets battle tested and ASU tries to work out the kinks for a big test of their own the next week.  ASU 54 – UAPB 10

@ Auburn – This is a game that could possibly over shadow the Hogs coming to Little Rock for the first time this season (it is Samford afterall).  Should ASU win this game it will certainly catapult them into this year’s rock stars much like ULM last year.  The talent is there to give Gus a good game especially with both teams breaking in new QBs.  The O-Line should be able to match up pretty decently against the front seven of Auburn but a very experienced front seven.  Should be intriguing to watch Malzahn go against his former DC John Thompson.  Could that be enough of an edge for the first of three Tigers face by the 2013 Red Wolves?  ASU can win this game but I think they fall just short.  ASU 23 – AU 27


vs Troy – Get your weekend started early in Jonesboro on Thursday night against the Godfather of the Sun Belt, Larry Blakeney, and the Trojans.  This game has normally been toward the end of the season and most times with some sort of conference implications, but starting out conference play with these two is just as mesmerizing.  Don’t want to get off on the wrong foot here.  The past two years have been unkind to Troy as everyone else has caught up with them and overtaken them.  Troy is a very physical team and when you have 5th-year senior Corey Robinson at the helm, chances are, you’re going to score some points. Defensively they’ve been flat-out bad the past couple year and last year gave up 30+ points in eight of their games.  ASU will likely be able to match the offensive intensity, but not likely that Troy has the horses (see what I did there?) to keep up with ASU defensively.  ASU 34 – Troy 28

@ Memphis – Awww the Paint Bucket Rivalry, by far one of the most forgotten and under-rated rivalries there is in college football.  Separated by 70 miles, played previously 57 times, with Memphis leading the way with a head-to-head record of 28-23-5, this series has had some ELECTRIC finishes in recent years.  There was the comeback by #25 Memphis in 2004, the Bluff City Miracle (video below) and THE Comeback (video below).  Memphis will be much improved under 2nd Year head coach Jason Fuente.  Possibly coming into this game at 2-0 (vs Duke, @MTSU) the Tigers will be hungry like the wolf to keep the potential streak alive.  But the Liberty Bowl will more likely be like Liberty Bank east of the Mississippi so “home-field” for the Red Wolves.  ASU 38 – Memphis 23


@ Mizzou – Finally, the last of the Tigers.  The 2013 Red Wolves season marks the second time these two teams have ever matched up but the first time in Columbia, the first time was at Arrowhead Stadium where ASU was beat soundly 44-17.  But this a different era for both teams.  Mizzou had a rough go of it their first rendezvous through the SEC, but they did get bit by the injury bug at some spots.  This will be last of the non-cons for the Tigers and very well could be the toughest of the bunch (IU will be a lot better than they were last year but ya know…it’s IU football).  Mizzou definitely has the height advantage at WR and against the weak spot in the ASU defense it could be something that Gary Pinkel exploits.  Look for ASU to try and control the ball more in this one with a heavy dose of David Oku, Michael “Flash” Gordon, and Sirgregory Thorton.  ASU 23 – Mizzou 33

vs Idaho – Petrino Part I.  This will be a non-conference game that was originally part of a home and home series, but as we all know, after this year it will be a conference game.  Petrino has returned to his roots in the Great Northwest (he’s originally from Butte, Montana) and the Vandals will compete as Independents this year before joining the Sun Belt.  Not much worked for Idaho last year winning only one game, against fellow future SBCer New Mexico State (who went 0-12).  This was a team that scored very few points, they ranked 123rd last year, and gave up a lot, ranked 122nd.  Petrino is not working that much magic in his first year.  ASU 57 – Idaho 17

vs ULL – Idaho will be a good game to clean some things up against one of the favorites to win the conference, the Ragin Cajuns.  These two teams dominate each other at home, except last year when ASU dismantled Louisiana-Lafayette at their house 50-27, and lucky for ASU they get the Cajuns in the Vault.  The Cajuns do have a 15 returning starters and one of them is Terrence Broadway.  He only started in nine games and holds the school record in completion percentage, third in passing yards, and fifth in touchdowns, so yeah expect those to fall with a full year under his belt.  BUT ASU’s defense has been top two in most major defensive categories two years running and again I bring it back to the Front 7.  They should be able to keep Alonzo Harris in check and they have enough speed up front to contain in spurts Broadway.  Plus they have a couple extra days to get ready, I like ASU…barely.  ASU 30 – UL 26

@ South Alabama – This is a team that could really come alive in a few years, but they’re still adjusting to FBS.  This team gave ASU a fit last year and was certainly one of their best performances last year and surely they’ll have a solid home field advantage..errr..well maybe this will be the one time that ASU doesn’t take over Ladd-Peebles.  Defense should be solid for the Jags, but the offense will still have plenty of room to grow.  ASU 30 – USA 17

@ ULM – Maybe Kolton Browning will be around for this one, surely that was the ONLY thing last year right?  Not so fast! ASU still hung 45 on the team that took down the Hogs.  I believe that even if ULM had Browning last year that ASU still would’ve won, maybe a little tighter score but a win nonetheless.  This time around though this game is in Monroe and it’s a place ASU has struggled traditionally.  Could be a shootout and I guarantee that ULM has this one circled and will put on a show.  ASU 34 – ULM 30

vs Texas St – Texas State is my dark horse to surprise people.  They’re in a rich recruiting area and have the famed Dennis Franchione as their head coach.  They went 4-8 last year but the potential is there.  But they’ve never been to the Vault and ASU will give them a proper introduction.  This game could be a budding rivalry (and please someone get David Bazzel to create a trophy for this game to help jump-start it!  Arkansas and Texas going at it every year and eventually conference implications and recruiting battles will happen and it will be a sense of pride for both fan bases, but it NEEDS a trophy and that guy is good at creating trophies!  Do it Bazzel!!)  First Battle of (Insert Clever Moniker Developed by David Bazzel here) goes to the Red Wolves.  ASU 55 – TexSt 20

vs Georgia St – No offense to the Panthers but they will suffer some growing pains this season.  Another proper introduction for a newcomer to Jonesboro.  ASU 63 – GaSt 13

@ WKU – The other most polarizing game of the Red Wolves’ season behind Auburn.  This game could very well decide the Sun Belt title in some form or fashion.  Petrino has two of the best players in the league at his disposal in RB Antonio Andrews and LB Andrew Jackson, both of which are just about solid draft picks.  Offensively, both of these teams could be juggernauts by this time of the year and this will be about which defense blinks first.  Petrino not necessarily known for his defensive prowess but WKU was one of the better defenses last year and held the Gus Malzahn offense in pretty good check only allowing 13 points last year.  WKU also not known for their fan support either, so it should be interesting to see the turnout for this one depending on bowl scenarios.  Last year for the Toppers in the Sun Belt too, so soak it up.  ASU 36 – WKU 33

10-2 is not completely out of the realm of possibility, and I did swing in favor of the Red Wolves in the tossup games: UL, ULM, WKU.  Certainly I think 7-5 is the floor of the season and even going 12-0 is not completely out of the realm of possibility, unlikely I think, just because a lot of things would have to swing in favor of ASU.  Anywhere in between 7-5 and 10-2 seems more likely and until someone knocks off the two-time defending champs, you have to give the 2103 Red Wolves the benefit of the doubt this season.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us your prediction for the 2013 Red Wolves.

What are your predictions for the final regular season record of the Arkansas State Red Wolves this football season? Vote in the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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