The Arkansas State Red Wolves haven’t had a lot to howl about this season with an 0-3 start with losses to Toledo (31-10), Auburn (51-14) and Utah State (34-20).
They may be looking for some easy prey but they may not find it when the Football Bowl Subdivision team dips into Football Championship Subdivision competition against in-state rival UCA in Jonesboro.
"I wish they (the Bears) were terrible; they aren’t," said ASU coach Blake Anderson. "I wish we were playing the worst team on the planet; they aren’t. We’re expecting a tough game."
"They (the Red Wolves) are better than 0-3; they are a very very good football team," said UCA coach Steve Campbell. "They are probably ready to have a breakout game. I hope it’s not this week.
"Last year they were sitting at 1-3 after four games and then went on and won something like eight of their last nine and won the Sun Belt (Conference). They played a tough schedule early. Toledo will be a bowl team, Utah State will be a bowl team, and Auburn has been a bowl team about every year."
Since the Bears and the Red Wolves last played in 2011, UCA has played FBS games at Ole Miss, at Colorado, at Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State and had a chance to win in the second half against all but Oklahoma State. FCS teams have eight victories over FBS teams so far this season, with one over a team ranked in the Top 25 (North Dakota State 23, No. 13 Iowa 21).
ASU has switched starting quarterbacks from Pittsburgh transfer Chad Voytik to Justice Hansen, who sparked a fourth-quarter rally last week at Utah State.
"Justice seems farther along at the point as far as the tempo we want to play and what we want to do," said Anderson.
The teams have played 24 times but only three in the modern era. ASU won, 17-7, in 1996 and 36-35 in 1997. The Red Wolves had an easier time in 2011, winning 53-24.
The Bears lead the SLC in total defense (267.7 yards per game) and rushing defense (58.0 yards per game) and are second in total offense (498.0 yards per game) and scoring offense (36.3 points per game). UCA is also No. 1 in first downs (85, third in the nation) and third-down conversions (45.8 percent). UCA’s third-down conversions allowed (14.9 percent) leads the nation.