It’s the moment football addicts have been waiting for. It’s time for football on Tuesday night. But not just any kind of football.
It’s time… for Tuesday Night #FunBelt.
The first Sun Belt Conference Tuesday night game features two teams on opposite sides of emotion. South Alabama is confident after two big wins, while Arkansas State needs a win to keep pace for the conference crown.
This game is important for both teams in trying to stay in the top half of the Sun Belt, but while the Jaguars are thinking about just making a bowl, the Red Wolves are looking to compete for a conference title.
South Alabama is on a high, after beating Troy in the first-ever Battle of the Belt, where the rivalry trophy is an actually championship belt.
The Jaguars travel to Jonesboro to face an Arkansas State team that is still in the mix for the Sun Belt title, but is without its best offensive player and has struggled on defense in the last few games.
Quarterback Fredi Knighten, who had missed the last three games with a groin injury, will be back for the Red Wolves, according to head coach Blake Anderson, saying he’s “99 percent” sure he will play.
Knighten was named the Sun Belt preseason offensive player of the year thanks to his speed and his big arm, but his injury has slowed the offense some. Redshirt freshman James Tabary took the reigns as quarterback and led ASU to a couple of wins over Missouri State and Idaho, while losing a close game against Missouri and not being able to overcome a tough start at Toledo.
This is the first of two Tuesday night games for ASU, with a crucial game next week at home against Louisiana-Lafayette that could be a factor in the Sun Belt title race. The Red Wolves and Ragin’ Cajuns do not play SBC favorite Georgia Southern, so games against Appalachian State and each other will determine tiebreakers that could decide the title.
Meanwhile, South Alabama isn’t yet a contender for the Sun Belt title, but a win could launch the Jags into the conversation. USA would be at 2-0 in SBC play, but would end the season playing three tough games, including playing Georgia Southern and Appalachian State back-to-back to end the regular season.
But the Jags offense has been clicking the last few weeks, as quarterback and UAB transfer Cody Clements has thrown the ball well the last couple of games, and his favorite target is tight end – and another UAB transfer – Gerald Everett, who leads the team in receiving with 23 receptions for 350 yards and five touchdowns.
Arkansas State has the most to lose in this game since the Red Wolves have never lost to South Alabama in the three-game history between both teams. Also with such an important game against ULL the next week, ASU doesn’t want to lose momentum that could lead them to a run to the conference title. But for the Jaguars, a win would add even more momentum to put USA in the mix for not only a bowl bid, but move them into contenders for the Sun Belt title.