JONESBORO, Ark. (7/18/19) – The Sun Belt Conference announced its 2019 Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll Thursday, and Arkansas State was picked to finish second in the West Division with 42 points and three first-place votes.
A-State returns 13 starters and 52 lettermen from last year’s team that compiled an 8-5 overall record and 5-3 mark in league play while tying with Louisiana for first place in the West Division. The Red Wolves are bringing back five offensive and five defensive players who were tabbed All-Sun Belt Conference a year ago.
Arkansas State finished just four points behind predicted 2019 West Division champion Louisiana, which gained 46 points and six first-place votes. Following the Red Wolves were ULM (27 points), South Alabama (19 points and 1 first-place vote) and Texas State (16 points).
Appalachian State was the predicted winner of the East Division and the Sun Belt’s championship game. The Mountaineers received seven first-place votes and 46 points, while Troy was listed in second place with 39 points and one first-place vote. They were followed by Georgia Southern (35 points and two-first place votes), Coastal Carolina (17 points) and Georgia State (13 points).
Five-time Sun Belt champion A-State has only been predicted to win the league one time, which came last year during the conference’s first season splitting into divisions and playing a title game. Including the 2019 poll, the Red Wolves have now been predicted to finish among the top three teams within their division or overall eight consecutive years and in 12 of the last 14 seasons.
Arkansas State has won five of the last eight Sun Belt Conference titles, including 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, while piling up 67 victories over the same time span to rank tied for the 25th most in the nation. The Red Wolves have also made eight consecutive bowl-game appearances for the 15th longest active streak among all FBS schools. Along with Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma, A-State is one of just four teams in the country to win five conference championships and appear in eight bowl games since 2011.
A-State head coach Blake Anderson, senior safety BJ Edmonds and senior wide receiver Kirk Merritt are set to represent the Red Wolves at the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Media Day, which will be held Monday, July 22, in New Orleans at the Superdome. Anderson, who begins his sixth season leading the Red Wolves, holds the fourth most Sun Belt victories (31) among all head coaches in the history of the league.
Arkansas State is set to open its 2019 season Aug. 31 with a 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Centennial Bank Stadium against SMU. Season tickets are available for purchase through the A-State Ticket Office, located at First National Bank Arena’s lower red entrance, in person, by phone at 870-972-2781 or online by visiting AStateRedWolves.com.
2019 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Appalachian State (7) – 46 points
2. Troy (1) – 39 points
3. Georgia Southern (2) – 35 points
4. Coastal Carolina – 17 points
5. Georgia State – 13 points
1. Louisiana (6) – 46 points
2. Arkansas State (3) – 42 points
3. ULM – 27 points
4. South Alabama (1) – 19 points
5. Texas State – 16 points
Predicted Championship Game Winner: Appalachian State