Breaking Down the Sun Belt – Week One
Well, the first weekend of college football is in the books and half the fan bases are happy and half are not.
Well, except for schools like Louisiana-Monroe, who don't open their season until this Saturday.
Here are my thoughts about the results around the Sun Belt Conference (Louisiana excluded.)
McNEESE STATE 27, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 21--Am I shocked? Not a bit. Those of us here in South Louisiana know about McNeese State and their history and tradition in the FCS. My guess is the Cowboys are a top two or three team in the Southland this year and there's a good chance we'll see them in the FCS playoffs. With MT coming off a dismal season, well, like I said, I'm not shocked. Folks in the 'boro are probably beside themselves after that loss to open the season and you can't blame them. Stock's stock slipped some more with that loss.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 7, WAGNER 3--Now, I know the name of the game is to win. And, when you're coming off a 1-11 season, you need all the wins you can get. But this is embarassing. The FCS school with only 34 scholarships outplayed the Owls until FAU's depth finally took over. Even with that, FAU fumbled inside the Wagner ten yard line twice and missed a field goal. Graham Wilbert, last year's starting quarterback, came off the bench to keep the Owls from suffering one of the most embarassing losses in the history of the SBC.
TROY 39, UAB 29--Folks may look at this score and suggest Troy should have won by more. And, maybe they're right. But they had a 17-0 lead and were getting ready to make it 24-0 when they fumbled the ball away. UAB then was able to make a game of it. Troy took control with two unanswered scores in the fourth quarter before a meaningless Blazers' touchdown made for the final 10 point margin. Still, Larry Blakeney can't be real happy about giving up 459 yards in offense.
WKU 49, AUSTIN PEAY 10--The Hilltoppers did what they were supposed to do to Austin Peay. The Toppers were up 35-0 at halftime and held the Governors to 154 yards of offense. The running backs averaged six yards per carry, showing there might be life after Bobby Rainey after all. And quarterback Kawaun Jakes threw for four touchdowns. If the heretofore inconsistent Jakes has a solid season, opponents of WKU could be in some trouble. 'Cuz the Toppers can play defense.
DUKE 46, FIU 26--Here's the good news. Jake Medlock had a solid day at quarterback, completing 60% of his 45 passes without an interception. Kedrick Rhodes ran for 130 and had 115 receiving. The bad news? The FIU defense, supposedly the strongest part of that team, gave up four drives of 70 yards or more. And, the FIU kicking game didn't help, as Duke blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown and also intercepted and ran back a PAT. I suppose FIU could play worse, but no one wants to see it. FIU actually trailed by 30 in the third quarter.
LSU 41, NORTH TEXAS 14--The Mean Green were 40 point dogs in this one and, according to the score, didn't do too badly. They hit a long bomb for a touchdown and had a nice fourth quarter drive. But LSU had over 500 yards in offense and the Green could only manage 219 yards in offense, 80 of them on one play. I think Dan McCarney's club will take a step forward this year, but that offense again appears to be pretty pedestrian. Of course, against LSU's defense, most offenses will look bad.
OREGON 57, ARKANSAS STATE 34--Well, congrats to the Red Wolves on their second half comeback (cough, cough). Look, Oregon is really explosive offensively and they can score a lot of points against a lot of teams. But the defending 'Belt champions were down 50-3.....in the first half. There's not enough lipstick to put on that pig. (Whoops, sorry, shouldn't use the term pig....um...wolf). ASU is a good football team, we think. But that first half was really brutal.
UTSA 33, SOUTH ALABAMA 31--Both teams were playing their first game as an FBS school and the bottom line is the Jags let one get away. Four turnovers spelled doom for USA, as did a, to be frank, stupid penalty on the kickoff after the Jags had taken a 31-30 lead. The personal foul call enabled the Roadrunners to start the winning drive from their 46 yard line and six plays later they had a 51 yard field goal and the win. South Alabama gets another shot at win #1 this week against Nicholls State. But Joey Jones will be the first one to tell you they should be playing for a winning streak.