Sun Belt Hopes for Six Bowl-Eligible Teams
Two down, four to go.
Louisiana-Monroe (6-2, 4-0) and Western Kentucky (6-2, 3-1) became the first two Sun Belt schools to achieve bowl eligibility over the weekend, with wins over South Alabama and FIU, respectively. Neither have ever been to an FBS bowl game.
Now, the question is, who joins the Warhawks and Hilltoppers?
The Sun Belt had a record four bowl-eligible teams last year. This year they’re hoping for six.
Here are the other hopefuls and their road to get to at least six wins.
ARKANSAS STATE (3-1, 5-3)–The Red Wolves got a big win at Louisiana Tuesday night and need just one more win. They’ll be a favorite to get it this week at North Texas. Then comes at Thursday night game at home against ULM, a trip to Troy and then Middle Tennessee. Red Wolves would do well to take care of their business this weekend, because none of the last three are easy wins.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-3, 3-1)–This team has come a long way since the season opening loss to McNeese State that had Raiders fans screaming for the head of coach Rick Stockstill. Since then their only losses have been to league-leading ULM and a pretty doggone good Mississippi State team. MT has a rivalry game at WKU this Thursday night, then travel to South Alabama. Troy is in Murfreesboro Thanksgiving weekend and then a trip to Jonesboro closes out the regular season. This team could wind up at 7-5…or they could wind up 5-7. South Alabama won’t be easy at home, and Troy has been a bane for the Raiders, historically. Odds are MT will get that sixth win. The question is, against who?
LOUISIANA (4-3, 2-2)–The injury-riddled Cajuns have lost two in a row and it doesn’t get any easier the next three weeks. The Cajuns have a trip to league-leading ULM this Saturday, and given the way the Cajuns have won the last two meetings, that’ll be an angry bunch in Monroe. Then it’s a trip to nationally-ranked Florida before returning home against Western Kentucky. The Cajuns close at home versus South Alabama and at FAU. There’s a strong possibility the Cajuns will need them both to get to 6-6, barring an upset. The question will be the psyche of this team if they meet USA trying to break a five-game losing streak.
TROY (4-4, 3-3)–Really, Trojans? At Florida Atlantic? Troy might have played itself out of a bowl game with that unexpected loss in Boca Raton Saturday. Now, they’ll have to pull an upset…maybe two in order to get to 6-6. That four game stretch starts with a trip to Tennessee this weekend. Then it’s back home to take on a pretty good Navy team, before finishing the home schedule against Arkansas State. The Trojans close at Middle Tennessee. Not a single one of those games is a sure win. And, 2-2 in the last four would be an accomplishment.
North Texas is 3-5, but still must play the three top teams in the Sun Belt. FAU is 2-6 and, as of now, they can’t use that win over Wagner for bowl eligibility, meaning they’d have to win out and then hope there aren’t enough eligible teams to fill the available slots. They still must play at Navy and at WKU. South Alabama is in the same situation as FAU. They are technically not eligible for a bowl game this year and would only get consideration if there aren’t enough teams…and even then, their situation is the last tiebreaker. FIU has been eliminated from bowl consideration at 1-8.