Arkansas State comes to Little Rock seeking a must-win

Updated: October 1, 2003, 4:46 PM ET

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas State was a few plays short in three games last year of winning the Sun Belt Conference title and playing in the New Orleans Bowl.

This year, the Indians haven't lined up against a Sun Belt opponent and the quest to complete what they started last year is faltering.

A 54-7 loss at Tulsa counted in the conference standings because Utah State was added too late to get on everyone's schedule. That leaves Arkansas State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt) in a must-win situation for the rest of the league schedule, starting Saturday against winless Louisiana-Monroe.

The Rock Classic, which is what Arkansas State will call its yearly game in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium, should produce its first conference victory.

ULM has struggled under first-year coach Charlie Weatherbie, averaging just 89.2 yards per game on the ground and 200.6 passing. Meanwhile, the defense is allowing 412.6 yards per game.

Weatherbie's team has lost twice to Southeastern Conference teams, which is to be expected, but it also has two losses to Southland Conference teams. That's the NCAA Division I-AA Southland Conference.

ULM lost 28-10 last week in Weatherbie's return to Utah State, where he coached the Aggies for three seasons. He won the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl and led Utah State to a 15-19 record before spending seven seasons at Navy.

The Arkansas State defense is hurting without senior tackle Corey Williams on the line, but Bryant Berry played well in his place.

The offense has move the ball well on the ground, averaging 192.8 yards per game, but quarterback Elliot Jacobs is coming off two sub-par games at Tulsa and Memphis.

He should bounce back strong this week.

ARKANSAS STATE 27, LOUISIANA-MONROE 14

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Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-3, 1-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) gave itself a much-needed confidence boost last week with a 36-9 victory over Kentucky State. The Division II team beat the Golden Lions last year.

Now, UAPB faces the No. 22 team in I-AA in SWAC West Division-leading Southern (4-0, 2-0). Last year, a blocked field goal kept the teams from overtime in Southern's 14-13 victory.

The Jaguars have dominated their first four opponents, outscoring them 161-33.

SOUTHERN 31, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 20

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Last week's record was 4-4. The season record is 21-14, a .600 winning percentage.

Other predictions involving college teams in Arkansas:

VALDOSTA STATE 31, OUACHITA BAPTIST 21

WEST ALABAMA 24, HARDING 14

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS 27, NORTH ALABAMA 21

HENDERSON STATE 21, ARKANSAS TECH 14

CENTRAL ARKANSAS 28, ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO 21

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index