This Week In the Sun Belt
There haven't been all that many conference games played in the Sun Belt Conference so far this year. That will change somewhat as three league games are on tap this week. By the time Sunday morning rolls around, only Texas State and Arkansas State will still be without a conference game, and the Red Wolves have a date next Wednesday night.
Here's what's happening in the league this week:
*TROY (3-1, 1-0) at IDAHO (2-2, 0-0) (+13') 4:00pm ESPN3--We can't call them the surprise team, because some folks thought they'd be good, but this Trojans team is showing it just might be the class of the league in this, Neal Brown's second season. The Trojans have been taking the ball away from opponents at a high rate and that's part of the reason for their 3-1 start. And, they're scoring a lot of points as well. It's a long, long trip to Moscow, however and they'll face an Idaho team coming off a very good (and very unexpected) win on the road at UNLV last week. The Vandals valued possession of the football and played some decent defense. They'll need to play better than decent defense against this potent Troy offense.
*GEORGIA STATE (0-3, 0-0) at APPALACHIAN STATE (2-2, 0-0) (-18') 11:00 am American Sports Network/ESPN3--Nice win for the Mountaineers last week as they went on the road and dropped an Akron team that is turning out to be much better than anyone expected. It's no surprise App State is 2-2, but we all know that record had a chance to be a little better. Georgia State had the week off last week to ponder their close loss to Wisconsin. The Panthers played the Badgers much closer than Michigan State did last week. Georgia State is showing their defense is pretty good, but the question is whether their offense can generate enough against this Mountaineers' defense. Here's the good news for Trent Miles' club: Forecast is sunny and 67 in Boone. That's a lot better than the blizzard they played in two years ago.
*LOUISIANA (2-2, 1-0) at NEW MEXICO STATE (1-3, 0-1) (+5) 7:00pm, ESPN3--It was a night of what could have been Saturday in New Orleans as the Cajuns fell in 4 OT to Tulane. And, they paid a price. Slot receiver Gary Haynes will be out for at least a month with meniscus surgery. Three of their offensive lineman got pretty banged up as did running back Elijah McGuire. All will play but it might be a little much to suggest they'll all be 100 percent. This turns out to be a crucial game for Louisiana and that secondary, which got torched in overtime last week, will be tested early and often by Tyler Rodgers and the Aggies' offense. NMSU scored only six points last week, but Rodgers threw five picks in the game. NMSU had over 400 yards in offense. And, running back Larry Rose is practicing this week. The Cajuns had better score, because the Aggies will.
ULM (1-2) at AUBURN (2-2) (-33) 2:30pm SEC Alternate -- Matt Viator's club put up a valiant effort in Statesboro two weeks ago, but fell short and now they'll play their second road game against a power five opponent when they travel to Auburn. Little did we know it at the time, but that Buyout Bowl game turned out to be just that. This is one of those games Gus Malzahn can't win even if his team wins by 30. Watch the Warhawks' offense...Garrett Smith is starting to give ULM flashbacks of that Browning kid.
#19 SAN DIEGO STATE (3-0) at SOUTH ALABAMA (2-2) (+19) 6 pm ESPNEWS--The Aztecs have gotten their ranking thanks to a win at Cal earlier in the season, but most knew before that game Rocky Long was going to have one of his better clubs.. The Jags escaped with an overtime win over Nicholls State last week when a Colonels two point try in overtime was thwarted. South Alabama won the game in San Diego last year and the revenge minded Aztecs have had a week off to think about this one.
INCARNATE WORD (1-3) at TEXAS STATE (1-2) 6:30 pm--The Bobcats had their "Party in the Endzone" in week one at Ohio, but they've had a hangover ever since. The Bobcats haven't scored a touchdown since the opening game of the season, although the competition (Arkansas, Houston) has had a lot to do with that. They had better not go to sleep in this one. UIW has played Nicholls and McNeese to one touchdown games and has beaten Northwestern State. This is not a gimme game for Everett Withers' club, which really could use a confidence boost right now.
The first of the midweek Sun Belt games is next Wednesday when winless Arkansas State hosts Georgia Southern. We'll preview that game and the others for week five next week.