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Oklahoma State Nonconference Preview - Central Arkansas

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It's been a while since our last update, but here's one more to round off the nonconference schedule.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State will host its first home game of what could be a great 2015 season against the Central Arkansas Bears, who play in the Southland conference. The Bears may be a recognizable team as they are the same one that nearly knocked off Texas Tech in 2014 and Colorado in 2013, oh, and they also play on this awesome field.

So now that you know a few things about the Bears, here's a few quick notes on how the team did last year under first-year coach Steve Campbell in the Southland conference.

UCA Bears (6-6 overall, 5-3 Southland)

Key Losses

  • @ Texas Tech 42-35
  • @ Sam Houston State 31-38
  • @ Montana State 33-43

Offensive Stat Leaders

Ryan Howard -QB

Att Comp. Perc. Yards TD INT
200 302 66.2 2380 23 9

Willie Matthews -RB

Att. Avg Yards TD
182 4.1 740 12

Dezmin Lewis - WR

Catch Avg. Yards TD
64 14.8 945 9

I got in contact with UCA color analyst Justin Acri to talk a little bit about the Bears and what to expect when they take the field against Rudolph and the Cowboys in less than a month.

Tell us a little bit about your football team: traditions, uniform schemes, any NFL players, returning juniors or seniors, big question marks, star players, and anything thing else

The school went to D-I (FCS) in 2006 and went 8-3 in that season.  The next year, the Bears played a full Southland schedule and had the best record in the conference but could not be recognized officially as champs because they were still transitioning from D-II.  Went to the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.  Won an NAIA title in 1991.  Coach Campbell is in his second year and had some tough losses on their way to a 6-6 season last year.

Team wears purple and grey.  One of the unique things about the school is the home field which has purple and grey stripes.  The team has done very well at home on "The Stripes" since they were installed.  Just had WR Dezmin Lewis drafted in the 7th round by the Buffalo Bills and have had a couple of others drafted or signed as free agents in last few years.

Feel very solid about the team and don't see any real deficiencies at any position including QB where SR Taylor Reed will be the man, but Hayden Hildebrand who is very talented will also get time.  Committee in backfield, good WR corp and solid, experienced at all other positions.  Kicker and Punter return as does Jatavious Wilson who is one of FCS's most dangerous return men (3 career return TD).  Defense led by All-American Jonathan Woodard who will be drafted after this season.  Has been getting accolades since freshman year.  Had 10 sacks last year and 25 for career.  Big, smart, athletic kid.

What's Central Arkansas' playing style? Do you guy run out of the I or the shotgun? Heavy pass or heavy run? Spread out or two tight end sets?

Very multiple.  Balanced.  Will run from a lot of different looks.  OC is Nathan Brown and was a STAR QB at UCA.  Over 10,000 passing yards in career (10,558) and 100 TD.

Seeing as Central Arkansas will be OSU's home opener, how does Central Arkansas usually play on the road? Coming to a Power 5 school's stadium, how do you think Central Arkansas will play in Boone Pickens Stadium? Do fans travel well? 

The stage has never been too big for this program.  Nearly won at Hawaii in 09 (lost 25-21), Lost in OT at LA Tech 48-42 in 2011, Had Colorado down but lost 38-24 in '13 and led Texas Tech most of last year before losing 42-35.  Fans should turn out but we are talking a few hundred-1500 max I would think.

What's the expectations for the season? New coach or big time recruits coming in? Returning players that could make a difference?

Have some guys who are new that will bolster TE position, but mostly experienced guys back.

Preseason predictions:

2015 Southland Conference Preseason Polls

Coaches' Poll

Pl.

School (First-place votes)

Pts.

1.

Sam Houston State (8)

98

2.

Southeastern Louisiana (1)

86

3.

McNeese State (1)

79

4.

Stephen F. Austin

73

5.

Northwestern State

60

6.

Central Arkansas (1)

57

7.

Abilene Christian

49

8.

Lamar

46

9.

UIW

26

10.

Nicholls

16

11.

Houston Baptist

15

Sports Information Directors' Poll

Pl.

School (First-place votes)

Pts.

1.

Sam Houston State (9)

99

2.

Stephen F. Austin

87

3.

Southeastern Louisiana

77

4.

McNeese State (1)

75

5.

Central Arkansas (1)

66

6.

Northwestern State

51

7.

Abilene Christian

48

8.

Lamar

41

9.

UIW

25

10.

Nicholls

20

11.

Houston Baptist

12

I think they are picked LOW.  But this is a very good FCS conference that sent three teams to the playoffs last year.

From an OSU fan's perspective, many would think that OSU will blowout Central Arkansas. What's the thought with Central Michigan fans about this game? Do you guys think you just have a chance or think you could spring the upset?

I don't know enough about OSU to predict, but I assume UCA will play well and will have some good moments, score some points and get some stops.  The big key from my perspective is not having injuries as there have been some big player losses in these FBS games over the years.

There you have it, that wraps up the nonconference preview series as football is inching closer with each passing day. The Cowboys shouldn't lose this game on paper, but games aren't played on paper and with a few lucky breaks, this game could get interesting for Bear fans.