For every Goliath, there is a stone.
Arkansas State almost hit Missouri with a stone last Saturday night as the Tigers stumbled out of Jonesboro with a 27-20 win. The David of college football that day proved to be across state as the Toledo Rockets toppled the Arkansas Razorbacks 16-12 in a surprise upset.
Against Mizzou, Red Wolf fans packed the stadium at 29,143 in attendance in a building with 30,406 capacity. The Missouri game was only the second time an SEC program came to ASU's home turf, last being in 2001 against Ole Miss.
"Beautiful night, great crowd here at home. I'm really proud of how hard the guys played," said Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson. "We talked to them all week about trying to take things up another level from last week in terms of effort."
There have been updates to the stadium's press box as well with the construction and renovation project of the press box and the west-side concourse covering 40,000 square feet.
ASU has built a winning program in northeast Arkansas, including four consecutive winning seasons and trips to the GoDaddy Bowls as well as reaching bowl eligibility 7 of the last 10 seasons. Since 2005, Arkansas State has a home record of 46-11. And the Wolves have nearly dominated the Sun Belt, garnering four conference championships with three of them coming from 2011 through 2013.
While the program does lack the depth of most Power Five conference schools, the team has NFL talent. Wide receiver J.D. McKissic looks to have a future on Sundays with his speed and talent as a valued all-purpose player.
The next couple steps in advancing the program are two-fold, gain big non-conference wins such as the infamous Boise State has and pack the stadium to capacity. Arkansas State did defeat Texas A&M in 2008 when the Aggies were a member of the Big 12, but it needs to happen more often.
"I'm not real big on moral victories, so right now all I see is 27-20 and more work to do, but all-in-all very proud of the guys in terms of how hard they played," said Anderson post game last Saturday.
In a state predominantly overrun with Razorback fans, the Red Wolves are gradually breaking into the market of fandom in Arkansas. In Jonesboro, ASU apparel and support is glittered throughout the town. And very many more losses by Arkansas to Group of Five schools like Toledo, who knows maybe a fan exodus will happen. One thing is definite - Arkansas State is a program on the rise up, or as they say, "Wolves Up".