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Idaho-Arkansas State preview

The Vandals play outside the Palouse for the first time in more than a month this afternoon. And this trip to Jonesboro, Ark., to play Arkansas State, will be one they'll get used to when they rejoin the Sun Belt next year.

We have a preview of the game below.


*****

Kickoff: 4 p.m. PDT; Liberty Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Ark.

Records: Idaho 1-5; Arkansas State 2-3

TV/Radio: ESPN3; 1080/1280-AM

Overview: The Vandals will get a taste of what it will be like to be in their future (and former) league with a road game against the back-to-back Sun Belt champions. The Red Wolves, in their first year under former Boise State assistant Bryan Harsin, are 24.5-point favorites. Idaho coach Paul Petrino said this matchup will give his team a good read of where it's at as it ramps up to re-join the Sun Belt next season. The Vandals are coming off their worst home loss in program history, and they've allowed 537 yards per game, second-worst in the FBS behind New Mexico State.

Line: Arkansas State by 24.5

Players to watch:

Idaho: James Baker, Richard Montgomery, Kris Olugbode, Jerrel Brown. It's hard to say which Idaho running back will get the most carries today – Petrino divvies up playing time based on practice – but the Vandals need to get their running game in a rhythm and not fall too far behind early. Arkansas State is 100th in the nation in rushing defense (198.2 yards per game). On Sept. 21, the Red Wolves gave up 329 yards on the ground in a 31-7 loss to Memphis, which like Idaho has only won once this year. (I'm guessing Idaho coaches watched the ASU-Memphis tape a lot). Idaho tried to run a ball-control offense in Week 2 at Wyoming and Week 4 at Washington State. Both times, the Vandals' offensive line was manhandled in lopsided losses. But if the Vandals can acquit themselves well up front, this game could be much more interesting than oddsmakers think it will be.

Arkansas State: Adam Kennedy. If the former Utah State quarterback is as comfortable in the pocket as Fresno State Derek Carr was last week against Idaho, the Vandals will be in for another long day.


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