Arkansas State can only blame itself for not winning a share of the Sun Belt last season, losing at home to Troy in the finale, as well as on the road at South Alabama (a Four-win team) a few weeks earlier. Yet with a loaded offense and possibly best quarterback in the conference, the Red Wolves have heavy odds to win it in 2018. To go with an over/under of 8.5 wins, they have +130 odds to win the Conference at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Quarterback Justice Hansen may be all the Red Wolves need to win the new West division. He torched opponents for 3,967 yards and 37 touchdowns last year, although his 16 interceptions were a bit high. Either way, the offense scored close to 38 points per Game and returns a lot of the talent in addition to Hansen. To go with top wide out Justin McInnis (800 yards, 4 TDs), ASU brought in transfers from Texas A&M (Kirk Merritt) and Oklahoma (Dahu Green). Others like Omar Bayless (439 yards, 6 TDs) and Kendrick Edwards (434 yards, 3 TDs) are still on the roster, as well. The running Game will hope to average more than 4.0 yards per carry behind Warren Wand (715 yards, 6 TDs) and a stout line that returns Four starters including stud left tackle LAnard Bonner.
The main reason the Red Wolves lost Games last year was because of a defense that allowed 25.8 points per contest. That’s not a terrible rate, but allowing 82 points in the final two regular season Games wasn’t great. Only Four starters return so that’s the immediate issue, especially with a mostly new line that includes Ronheen Bingham, who had five sacks last year. Linebacker is in a similar situation with all starters expected to be sophomores, including Caleb Bonner, who started five Games in 2017. The secondary is in a slightly better situation with upperclassmen to work with including nickel Justin Clifton and safety B.J. Edmonds (80 tackles).
For most of the season, the defense may not be an issue. The Wolves get an extremely favorable Schedule outside of a couple road Games in non-Conference play and that could lead to 10 wins in the regular season if the defense doesn’t fall off. The biggest Sun Belt Game is against App. State in early October. Even as a small -4 point favorite, Arkansas State doesn’t have to win that Game because its division is extremely favorable with UL Monroe projected to be the next best team and it finished 4-8 last year. The path is clear for the Wolves to reach the inaugural Conference title Game and that’s why their odds are where they’re at. That said, this team is still in a good position to reach nine wins in the regular season and hit the over.
2018 Arkansas State Red Wolves Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Southeast Missouri State
Sept. 8 at Alabama
Sept. 15 at Tulsa
Sept. 22 vs. UNLV
Sept. 29 at Georgia Southern
Oct. 9 vs. Appalachian State
Oct. 18 vs. Georgia State
Oct. 27 at Louisiana
Nov. 3 vs. South Alabama
Nov. 10 at Coastal Carolina
Nov. 17 vs. UL Monroe
Nov. 24 at Texas State