Cajuns Picked To Win Sun Belt Conference Football Crown By Athlon Sports
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun football team is picked to win the 2013 Sun Belt Conference by Athlon Sports.
Louisiana, who is coming off of consecutive 9-4 seasons, in 2011 and 2012, including back-to-back victories in the New Orleans Bowl, are picked to finish 9-3, overall, and 6-1 in Sun Belt Conference play.
The Cajuns went 6-2 in league play last year, finishing in a three-way tie for second place, with the ULM Warhawks and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, one game behind the Arkansas St. Red Wolves, who won the regular season title, with a record of 7-1.
Louisiana is searching for their first Sun Belt Conference championship since 2005, when they grabbed a share of the crown, and their first outright title.
The Cajuns, who open their 2013 schedule on the road on August 31, against Arkansas, in non-conference action, will have to overcome a slight disadvantage in the uneven conference schedule this year, as they will play four of their seven conference games on the road.
ULM, who finished 8-5 last year, and returns quarterback Kolton Browning, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is picked to finish second in the league race by Athlon. The Warhawks, who appeared in the Independence Bowl last year, are picked to finish 7-5, overall, and 5-2 in league play.
The WKU Hilltoppers, who went 7-6, overall, last year, including a 4-4 finish in the league, and an appearance in the Little Caesars Bowl, are picked third. WKU, who will be under the direction of new head coach Bobby Petrino this season, is picked to finish 7-5, overall, and 5-2 in league play.
Athlon picks defending league champion Arkansas St. to finish fourth. The Red Wolves, who went 10-3, 7-1 last year, including a win in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, will have to replace the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Ryan Alpin, and will have to adjust to their fourth head coach in as many years, with Bryan Harsin taking over for Guz Malzahn.
Troy is picked to finish in fifth place. The Trojans won or shared five-consecutive league titles, from 2006-2010, but have finished under .500 for two-straight years, including 5-7, 3-5 finish a year ago.
Texas St., a Sun Belt Conference newcomer this year, is picked to finish sixth. The Bobcats went 4-8 last year, while a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
Athlon predicts South Alabama to finish in seventh place. The Jaguars, in their first year of FBS play, finished 2-11, overall, and 1-7 in league play a season ago.
League newcomer Georgia St. is predicted to finish in eighth place. The Panthers, who just began their program in 2010, and is still in transition into the FBS through the 2013 season, and therefore will not be eligible to compete in the post season until 2014, are predicted to go 1-11, overall, and finish winless in their first year in the Sun Belt Conference.