Arkansas State’s first year in D1 football was a dream season. The Indians went 11-0 in 1975 and destroyed teams because of superior talent, and a schedule that was ripe for an undefeated season, for an athletically gifted team that could avoid turnover and injury bad luck. There were more than a dozen players on that squad that were drafted or signed professional contracts with the NFL or CFL over the two years that followed. Serious talent. That team finished tied for 21st in the nation in the final AP poll. They led the nation in rushing offense, edging out Nebraska with over 300 yards rushing per game.
And because Arkansas State pummeled teams, holding them to an average of 7.4 points per game(2nd in the nation), while scoring an average of 32.3 points per game(3rd in the nation), they were ranked 6th in a historical power ranking, between 1970s powerhouse programs Nebraska and Texas.
A 5 point win at Cincinnati was the only close final score in ’75, and 17 points was the next closest margin of victory. That is dominance! The undefeated record reflected it perfectly.
With only 11 bowls after the 1975 season, the undefeated Indian team was 11-0 with no place to go, an injustice which led to the creation of the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
2013 Red Wolves
The 2013 schedule provides an opportunity similar to 1975 – 12 winnable games. The past couple 10-win seasons featured road games against top 25 teams Virginia Tech, Oregon, and Nebraska. Those games were really long shots for A-State to win based on point spreads of 24, 37.5, and 23.5 respectively.
This year looks different. As it stands now, Arkansas State won’t face any top 25 teams, and should be no worse than 2 touchdown underdogs on the road against Auburn and Missouri, and could be favored in as many as 9 games. Since returning to college football’s top level, A-State has never had a season in which they weren’t a 20 point underdog in at least one game – until 2013.
USA Today’s Paul Myerberg produces a well researched preseason college football countdown in which all 125 teams are ranked. He ranks Arkansas State 55th. That is higher than every opponent on the 2013 schedule except Louisiana-Lafayette at 49. But the Cajuns have lost 2 in a row to the Red Wolves and they travel to Jonesboro this year. The next closest opponents in the countdown are Auburn at 56 and Missouri at 58. For winnable games, this is the best schedule Arkansas State has had in recent memory.
This 2013 team is probably not as talented as the ’75 team, relative to the rest of the NCAA, but it looks to be the most talented team since. Speed and athleticism abound on both sides of the ball. And coming off of consecutive 10 win seasons, both confidence and expectations are high. This team has the potential to be good. Really good.
So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance
So you’re telling me there’s a chance? YEAH! Definitely. And that is seldom the case for Arkansas State. Undefeated seasons are improbable and rare, but much more likely when talent and favorable schedules align. This combination of winnable games and a bevy of very good athletes provides an opportunity that not many seasons offer – a legitimate chance to go undefeated if things fall right.
But the 2013 Red Wolves don’t have a returning starter at QB, you say? That didn’t matter to QB David Hines in 1975 one iota.